Effectively Managing Your Software Vendor Relationships

Effectively Managing Your Software Vendor Relationships

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Managing relationships with key software vendors needs more than great negotiation skills, having the right Software Asset Management (SAM) processes and tools in place means you can have a solid foundation of critical data and intelligence to hand at the right time.

Anyone that has come near a software license agreement will know that they can be hideously convoluted with numerous license metrics that the enterprise needs to manage. A properly deployed SAM environment within the enterprise is critical to ensure that investments in software technology are managed correctly within the terms of the licensing agreement/s so that the consumption and usage access across the enterprise is optimised and that technology investments can be successfully deployed and adopted across the organisation.

What SAM tools are needed?

When considering deploying a SAM tool into the enterprise, the organisation needs to ensure that it possess a set of essential capabilities.

First, a tool needs full visibility of installed software. This includes versions, editions, downgrade and upgrade rights etc. Another key requirement for optimal software license management is the ability to manage cloud licenses. This means a SAM tool should be able to find, identify and administer cloud-based applications such as Microsoft Office 365.

Usage stats are important to be able to see how software products are being accessed and consumed by your users – something that also applies to systems accessing the software too.

You’ll also require complete visibility in your datacentre environment and, as such, should be able to take an inventory of what’s where and what applications are being used. Furthermore, as well as traditional software running directly on hardware, you need to have the same visibility and inventory of applications running on virtualised platforms.

Financial management will also be required as you need to proactively manage all costs related to your organisation’s software estate.

The last essential capability needed is the capacity to figure those “what if?” situations. These will help in discovering any compliance changes or costs savings if your organisation undertook particular activities.

What about the cloud?

It is important to understand that (and as mentioned earlier) your organisation still has to mange its relationship with your software publishers (and their licenses) even if they are delivered from the cloud.

While non-compliance is harder with cloud services, the license is still an asset for your organisation. In effect, you are managing user accounts more than licenses, but you have to make sure that your users only access the software they have an entitlement for. It is essential to look after the cloud-based license contracts and any updates Microsoft delivers via the cloud to users.

Organisations need to confirm that updates sent out by your publisher partners remain within the parameters of the software license agreements; SAM tools should ensure that license metrics around this are emphasised too.

Getting maximum value from your software estate

The right SAM tools and processes can help in getting the maximum value from your software estate. Whether it is the desktop, datacentre or cloud, these tools should help in managing and deploying licenses properly.

The datacentre

Licenses used in the datacentre can be very expensive. So this can be a good place to start when looking to maximise your investment in complex technology. Decreasing, optimising or altering the licenses within the datacentre can often reap significantly higher financial rewards in the short term than hunting around on the desktop estate. It also tackles the biggest compliance risks within the organisation.

Many audits often unearth huge amounts of non-compliance here, so a good SAM environment can get visibility into the datacentre and manage software licenses there, reducing costs and materially reducing risks of non-compliance.

Virtualised environments and the cloud

Datacentres are becoming more and more virtualised, so it is very important to manage and use software licenses installed on virtual servers. These too can pose a compliance risk and be costly through misuse if not properly handled.

The cloud should be an easier job for organisations looking to manage software assets and ensuring their correct usage. Licensing metrics can be easier to understand, allowing quick optimisation of licensing arrangements.

The desktop estate

The desktop estate is a less complicated beast than the server room. SAM products can be used to confirm that desktop software is being used efficiently and by the right users. It can identify users who are inactive and those with the wrong license type.

By having data such as software contracts and licenses integrated into SAM environment, the organisation can monitor and manage software compliancy pre-emptively with an accurate license position. Once established, the organisation can tackle compliancy and risk problems.

Conclusion

Managing your relationship with your software publishers cannot be done without deploying and using SAM tools and processes. While all the publishers provide some tools to help, a holistic SAM environment will really pay dividends in allowing your organisation to optimise your investment in complex technology and to minimise the risks of non-compliance.

However, deploying an optimal SAM environment across the enterprise is a specialist task requiring a deep knowledge of the required tools and processes and significant experience. The task is made more difficult as organisations across the world are finding it harder and harder to find and attract specialist SAM and ITAM talent. Indeed Gartner predicts that by 2018 over 50% of global enterprise with a SAM environment will be relying on expert third party SAM providers and experts.

I am the Group Chief Marketing Officer at Crayon. My team are focused on driving enhanced lead generation campaigns and nurturing for our sales organisations across multiple geographies though the utilisation and coordination of all online and offline communication channels. We are driving increased brand awareness in the business's core competency areas of Software Asset Management (SAM), cloud and volume licensing solutions and associated consultancy services. I have over 20 years of senior business leadership experience within direct marketing/direct sales and mass distribution businesses, in both the B2B and B2C markets serving on the boards of both private and public multinational corporations.