You are here

Managing multiple software versions and editions

Unless you are in the extremely unlikely position of being in an enterprise with thousands of users and servers that all have exactly the same software versions and editions running (having always removed any legacy software and only deployed the latest, shiniest editions) you’re more than likely already familiar with the challenges that come with managing multiple versions and editions of the same family of applications and databases.

There are many good reasons to be concerned about the number of different versions and editions of software running across the network, including:

  • Increased support burden for help desk staff & workload for software deployment teams
  • Security risks associated with older/ unpatched versions
  • Different licensing rules applying to various versions and editions
  • Costs associated with using ‘professional’ or ‘enterprise’ editions for run-of-the-mill IT needs

The nirvana scenario described above, where just a single version of an application or one edition of a database exists across the network is little short of a fantasy for the vast majority of organizations. 

Even in advanced or highly-regulated organizations where policies exist to strictly govern the deployment of software, it is unlikely you will ever see less than two or three versions and editions of a given application or database.

One Snow customer recently told me that they had discovered no less than fifteen editions and versions of Microsoft Office across their IT estate.  Another discovered software that was well past the software vendor’s end of service date.

Much of the debate over the benefits of consolidating software versions and editions is for another time and another blog. 

Instead, today I want to focus on why it matters specifically to Software Asset Management and what SAM managers can do when faced with real-life scenarios like those described by our two customers above.

Life is complicated enough, don’t make it worse!

If you’ve spent any time in software licensing you’ll know one thing for sure: vendors like making changes!  Whether it’s simply changing the prices of applications or the terms and conditions around application licensing (moving from per device to per processor licensing, for example) it is highly likely that the more versions and editions that you have to support, the more different licensing schemes you will need to be expert in.

What’s more, you need to know what licensing conditions or obligations apply to each and every application you’re managing.  Not to mention whether the license for Version 7 professional can be used to cover Version 7 standard, or whether Mike in accounts can use Version 5 on both his laptop and tablet on the same license…

So we’ve established that trying to support too many versions and editions in the above scenarios is bad; but what can you do about it?  How can you identify which versions should possibly be retired and what should become the ‘standard image’? 

Unsurprisingly, it’s very difficult without a consolidated view of what’s installed and what’s being used across the network.  If only there were a way to see in a single view what versions and editions of an application were installed and in active use!

The situation in the the datacenter, where the procurement of hardware and software has evolved over a long stretch of time (see our earlier blog Managing the Datacenter), and where virtual machines can easily and quick spun up (see Virtualization Management), presents even more of a challenge. 

It can be near-impossible to manually establish an optimized environment that is fully compliant and have sufficient reporting so that you can make decisions on the software and hardware configuration. Complex licensing schemes and managing products from multiple vendors can add to the risk of over- and underlicensing.

SAM managers are having to find the disconnect between deployment and licensing – should Server A have a standard edition, and will the virtual machines residing on it be covered? Does Server B’s premium edition have the appropriate upgrade rights?

Has the minimum number of licenses been assigned to Server C for the virtual machine running on it even if it is assigned less cores than the license requires? And what about the core factors for Server D, does it have the right asset hardware specification when running Microsoft SQL Server? Datacenter and SAM managers regularly have to make decisions based on the configuration changes without having an overview of all licenses in the datacenter.

As discussed in our earlier blog A New Way to View SAM, while the tabular and granular detail is still very important, in order to make the SAM team as productive as possible, it makes sense to make this data as easy as possible to both report in management dashboard form as well as drill down into the detail. This makes it easier for the SAM team and other authorized stakeholders to quickly identify potential issues that need immediate action.

View from above

Having a holistic view of a software title gives you an immediate understanding of the spread of the licenses in the organization – intelligence with which you can optimize your estate, ensure compliance as well as give you the necessary information to trend and forecast the software needs for the business.

In just a couple of weeks Snow will launch reveal the next generation of Software Asset Management reporting in Snow License Manager 8 where you’ll be able to access application families with all instances of a single software product in just one screen.

This new and powerful view illustrates in this single pane of glass, the consumption of the product in the virtual environments, it makes a comparison of physical and virtual resources for assessment of optimal licensing, it displays and overview of deployment and compliance for a single application or a whole product family with all the different versions and shows your total investment compliance risk and overspend.

Watch the video to learn how these new features can save you masses of time, and give you all the information you need to optimize your software estate.

 


With immediate insight into the total investment, compliance risk and overspend for either a single application or a whole product family, whether on the desktop estate or in the datacenter , SAM managers can see the potential optimization opportunities or overspend and take action to re-harvest or recycle licenses, resulting in cost avoidance and greater availability of licenses to other users.