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Dorset Council

  • Over 100% return on investment through license consolidation
  • Recovered over £60,000 of missing assets for re-use
  • Reduced asset analysis from 3 days to 10 minutes

Dorset Council is a local government authority on the southern coast of England. In 2019, the new Dorset Council replaced the former district and borough councils of East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland as well as Dorset County Council. The consolidated council supports and serves over 360,000 residents.

Challenge

Dorset Council wanted to improve their understanding of which applications were installed across the entire IT estate, where these applications were located, and how they were licensed. Any information they had was stored in spreadsheets which were passed around, became corrupted, altered and quickly out of date.

There was the added problem that often applications had been purchased and installed but there were significant knowledge gaps in the history of how these applications had been installed, delivered, managed and supported. They needed to find the answers to ensure license compliance, consolidate software and to better support the many applications they had within the organisation.

“We needed oversight of what applications we had installed where, how they should be licensed and where there might be massive gaps for applications, as well as consolidation,” said Lauren Maslen, ICT Business Solutions Engineer at Dorset Council.

Solution

It was clear that Dorset Council needed a comprehensive software asset management platform. Snow was recommended by one of their Microsoft partners as a component of the Council’s Smarter Computing Program, which delivered a brand new platform, updated devices and better methods of delivering applications to their estate.

With Snow, Dorset Council was able to fully manage their entire IT estate of 4,500 devices, recognize all applications and find out who was using them. It also allowed them to uncover the history of the installations and better understand the business needs they were addressing.

“Before Snow, we had massive gaps of knowledge where people had left and taken the application knowledge with them,” explained Maslen. “We weren't sure how the application was installed, how it had been delivered or how to manage it. But now, we can easily recognize where these applications are and who uses them.”

Results

As soon as the Council was fully up and running with all the relevant license agreement and alert information entered into Snow, they soon discovered licenses they didn’t know they had purchased, mixtures of volume licensing, computer licensing and some boxed products, all for the same applications.

By analysing and consolidating this information, Dorset Council has recognized software license savings of more than £100,000, including £45,000 on one application alone.

Automated reports are used daily and weekly to give IT and the Applications Support Team the information they need to support Dorset Council’s staff efficiently and effectively.

If a new application is approved by our security officer and installed within the estate, the Applications Support Team are notified through our internal software asset management process and can look for the relevant information pertaining to this application within Snow. They are then able to gather all the necessary information to ensure this application is licensed correctly, consolidated with existing licences, if appropriate, and also to create a catalogue, rich in information, which ensures end users are fully supported in their use of the applications by the service desk.

“Before Snow we would be working from spreadsheets that were horrendous,” said Maslen. “Analysis would probably take me two or three days. Whereas now, I can go in Snow and I can amend a report which would take me all of about five or ten minutes. And then the data is just endless, it’s right at the touch of the button and I have everything I need. Now that we have Snow, it’s much more efficient.”

Snow has also been extremely useful in locating missing devices by utilising IP addresses and when the device was last used. Last logged-on and most-frequent-user data has enabled the correct questions to be asked regarding the location of missing devices.

This has led to recovery of over 70 missing devices. Another benefit is the Snow Agent Update capability, which enables the IT team to update agents in batches alongside the normal security patch schedule. Executing these updates from the Snow server rather than delivering through SCCM allows them to update in specific batches which can be created and maintained via the “views” in the Snow Console.

The Security and Continuity Officer at Dorset Council is also making good use of Snow by checking out new applications, where they are coming from, who’s using them and whether they elicit a black-list alert. They are also working with members of the Infrastructure team to make sure Domain and Certificate information is captured and updated.

“Dorset Council have worked hard, in partnership with our LSP, over the last few years to be in a good licencing position for our Microsoft products,” said Scott McEleney, Infrastructure Analyst at Dorset Council. “This means that without more precise usage information there were few savings to be found in this year’s licencing renewal. However, using Snow to analyze device and application usage, we managed to save £19,800. This was predominantly through reducing fully licensed users to be licensed for mobile devices and web applications only, as they didn’t use desktop devices.”

What’s Next

Following the recent reorganisation of six councils, the newly formed Dorset Council, is using Snow to support the reorganisation of people and technology. The first step has been implementing Snow across the board to help them understand the installations of all applications and servers. Rather than using spreadsheets to maintain this information, as they did in the past, now that all the information is in Snow, details for all council sites can be seen at the touch of a button. This reduces processing and analysis time from two or three days down to five or ten minutes, and the IT team is able to self-serve this information on an as-needed basis.

Dorset Council will also be investigating application convergence to consolidate software applications and to centrally locate data. Snow is helping them better understand what they have installed, where and whether they can better leverage existing applications across the entire council.

They are already seeing a return on investment with this approach. During a recent license audit, they used Snow to identify where the application had been installed and how it was licensed. After consolidating this piece of software, they were able to avoid hefty fines and be compliant.

Some of the Dorset Council ICT team have found that implementing Snow has improved their efficiency and made application management so much simpler that the Operations Managers are now planning to relaunch Snow across the ICT service to practically demonstrate how this has benefited the team and how it can help others too.

“Our relationship from the start up until now has just been excellent. Snow has been so helpful along the way and I’ve always felt like nothing is too much. Gaining full visibility of our estate can sometimes feel scary and present its own set of challenges, but Snow have made us feel comfortable and helped us along our journey. They have such a positive attitude, have answered all our queries and helped us implement new ideas in an efficient way. Our relationship over the years has only become stronger, and we at Dorset Council are massive advocates of Snow.”

Lauren Maslen, ICT Business Solutions Engineer at Dorset Council

“Our relationship from the start, up until now has just been excellent. Snow has been so helpful along the way and I’ve always felt like nothing is too much. Gaining full visibility of our estate can sometimes feel scary and present its own set of challenges, but Snow has made us feel comfortable and helped us along our journey. They have such a positive attitude, have answered all our queries and helped us implement new ideas in an efficient way. Our relationship over the years has only become stronger, and we at Dorset Council are massive advocates of Snow.”
Lauren Maslen, ICT Business Solutions Engineer at Dorset Council