When looking at improving the management of software licenses across the organization, we typically talk about the reconciliation of two distinct data sets: the software audit/inventory data from PCs and servers on the network and the entitlements held in the license repository. After all, when you know what is installed on the network and how that relates to your current license entitlements, you can start to identify areas where you have a potential licensing shortfall as well as areas where you have capacity or opportunities to reduce costs.
There is, however, a third data set that can help organizations uncover and address even more efficiency and cost savings: software metering. By understanding not only whether an application is installed on a machine, but how it is used, IT and business managers can make informed decisions about what should be done with that application in the future.
How do we determine software usage for applications on the network? There are a number of specialist tools available, but inventory solutions such as Microsoft SCCM, Symantec Altiris and FrontRange Discovery (and indeed, our own License Dashboard Discovery) can increasingly provide a level of software metering that is sufficient for the needs of license management.
Enhancing License Manager
To maximize the value of this data, License Dashboard has recently announced the new License Manager 5 solution which now features the ability to import and report on software usage. Now, in addition to knowing what applications are installed on a PC (and therefore what the Effective Licensing Position is), License Manager has the ability to quickly show managers whether the applications deployed on the network are actively being used. For example, you can now do a simple report to highlight all instances of an application deployed to a PC or server, but not actively used in the last 90 days. Armed with this information, you can make an informed decision as to whether those applications should remain in place, or whether it would be better for the business to uninstall some or all of them from their current devices and then either re-deploy them to other machines and users, or hold them in ‘stock’ for future requirements.
Software metering information is especially useful when your initial reconciliation suggests there might be a potential licensing shortfall for a particular application. The logical next step is to query usage information to see whether licenses really do need to be purchased or whether ‘cleaning up’ PCs might provide a more cost-effective solution.
Configuring the inventory solution
Now, having established that software metering can be very useful, here comes the caveat. Getting hold of this information efficiently can be tough. Configuring software metering so that it collects usage data on target applications without causing a substantial device and network overhead, or bloating the asset repository can be a skilled task. Thankfully help is at hand from a number of specialists (including, of course, License Dashboard professional services) who can help configure your inventory solution.
In summary, while installation data and license entitlements remain the primary data sources for effective license management, adding a third data set in the form of usage data can really make a difference to your ability to make informed decisions about the software on your network. Don’t miss the opportunity to really leverage the value in this data!