For most people outside of IT, clouds are those things up in the sky, but even within technology, the cloud can mean many things to many people.
In essence, the cloud is a collection of servers that organisations can connect to via the internet to access software, storage and services. This compute resource usually sits somewhere in a datacentre. Virtualisation helps in provisioning the right amount of hardware and software an organisation needs, and this can be charged to an organisation down to the second if necessary.
Indeed, the cloud is often considered to be a relatively inexpensive and flexible means to store data and access services without having to make sizeable investments in hardware and software.
But this poses problems for IT asset management. While it was thought that going all in on the cloud would mean the end of ITAM, the complete opposite has happened. The cloud has changed the way you manage software, not eliminated the need for effective SAM/ITAM.
Cloud-base licenses bring new elements to ITAM, such as user management, deployment management and contract management. While the emphasis on old style on premise compliance lessens, other parts of licensing and software need to be managed properly.
If a license states that a user can install software onto a number of devices, including any at home, an ITAM professional needs to make sure that a process is in place that should an employee leave, they are no longer able to use a license that belongs to the company.
ITAM professionals need to be at the top of their game insofar as having a deep expertise and knowledge of cloud-based licenses so that they can understand their organisation’s rights in relation to cloud software and services. Having a legal expert on hand when negotiating cloud contracts is important as well.
A new start
As cloud becomes part of the mix, organisations need to make sure that existing IT asset management policies and process fit in with it. These need to be updated to reflect this new paradigm in order that companies optimise their investments in the cloud.
Organisations also need to keep up to date with what software asset management tools offer when it comes to cloud management. With existing ITAM solutions present, organisations need to know what new capabilities and features they will have to manage cloud-based software and licenses. There needs to be a transparency when looking at how many installations a user has in order to maintain compliance.
As and when employees start and leave the business, ITAM professionals need to have a hand in this process. Users could install a corporate license on a personal device just by logging onto a vendor’s site and downloading the appropriate software. The ITAM team needs to make sure that when someone leaves the organisation, that user can no longer use the license.
Recycling cloud licenses could also be more of a challenge than re-using perpetual licenses. User accounts and login details need to be changed with assigning a license to a different or new user.
Why more to the cloud?
Most software vendors now have services accessible via the cloud or cloud-based licenses and these are necessary if you need the latest version of the vendor’s software. Fewer perpetual licenses will update to the latest versions of their software.
Cloud-based software will get updated regularly while you have a contract with the vendor. This means the organisation will always have the latest version running. However, upgrading may also result in downtime or other issues.
The trend nowadays is that if you want the latest software, you will have little option but to move to the cloud. This means careful migration planning is needed; having an appropriate tool that can manage cloud-based licenses is as important as having policies and processes that help ensure employees use software and services in the proper manner. Your ITAM tool should also be able to work out if a license is cloud-based or perpetual in order to help manage both compliance issues and usage.
Like many things before it Cloud doesn’t remove challenges that SAM/ITAM professionals face, it’s just changed them and in many ways it’s more important than ever to have a competent SAM/ITAM environment deployed across your estate if you really want to optimise your investments in the cloud.
For further information and advice in optimising your IT estate, our team of experts is on hand to help.