Flexera Software’s Vincent Brasseur, Director of Product Management,
Microsoft’s SCCM is the market leader in desktop software deployment, configuration management and inventory collection. The raw software inventory data is used primarily for day to day software deployment operations but has limited value for software asset management and license optimization.
SCCM provides application recognition capability, which is necessary to get a usable understanding of what software is installed across the IT estate. SCCM’s inventory agent can also collect application usage data, which shows what software is not only installed but actually being used. All of these are important pieces of an overall software asset management (SAM) and license optimization program, but knowing what is installed is only the first step in the process.
For end-to-end software asset management and license optimization, additional features are needed that do not exist today in SCCM. They are delivered by other tools that integrate with SCCM and use it as an inventory and application usage data source. They provide more extensive license management and license optimization capabilities based on ITIL standards. These tools add some or all of the following capabilities:
- Collection of purchasing data from procurement or finance systems and reconciliation of purchased licenses versus installed software. A stock keeping unit (SKU) library is the only reliable way to automate this step by determining exactly what has been purchased according to the PO line item SKUs, and linking those purchases to the installations.
- Reconcile inventory and purchasing data with HR and enterprise data. This will add a needed business view to the reports. Licenses, purchase orders, installations and computers can be tied to enterprise groups (locations, cost center, business unit) or identified users.
- Provide advanced SAM capabilities. This potentially includes many features, such as reporting on license consumption per enterprise business unit, location, cost center or user, providing an audit trail and historical data on installations and licenses, being able to assign individual licenses to users or devices or allocate a license quantity to a department or a site, calculating the purchase versus installed compliance status of each license based on its metric.
- Automated management of license agreements and contracts. This can include such things as wizards to help create contract hierarchies and payment schedules. For Microsoft Enterprise Agreements, next generation software asset management tools can estimate upcoming true-up payments based on software utilization. For Microsoft Select and Select Plus Agreements, the tools can show point consumption over time, for each enrolment.
- Track application usage to enable license re-harvesting when there are unused or under-used applications in one area of the organization, and reallocate those licenses to another group. Usage data can also be used to reduce on-going maintenance payments when the software is not even installed, for example.
- Application of vendor Product Use Rights to optimize license consumption. By taking advantage of use rights, such as right of second use, multiple installations and downgrade rights, license optimization tools can reduce the number of new licenses that must be purchased at true-ups and renewals.
- Recycling of licenses allocated to hardware to be retired.