Commercial and government IT organizations of all sizes are expected to accomplish more with fewer resources each year. At the same time there are so many wonderful opportunities today to create real value within IT by investing in new technologies, but this is often impossible to accomplish because of the high cost of maintaining existing applications. Why not maximize the return on the resources you have by taking a hard new look at how you license and maintain your existing software applications. Not only is there likely to be a lot of money to be saved each year, but if you put the right tools and process in place, your organization will also be much more secure. Please request our white paper “Software License Management” for details.
These are the main tasks that organizations must perform to implement software license management (SLM). Unlike other SLM tools, Belarc’s approach is to offer an integrated and automated solution with all of these steps, so that the process can be rapidly implemented and continuously updated.
Discovery. This involves the discovery of two things. First is the installation and usage (they are not the same thing) of software on host systems such as desktops, tablets, mobiles, and physical and virtual servers; and second the discovery of the entitlements or purchases of this software.
Unlike other vendors who largely rely on IT operations tools such as Microsoft’s SCCM, BMC’s ADDM, etc. for discovery data, Belarc uses it’s own world-class discovery. This is important because the IT operations tools do not offer discovery for important aspects of SLM such as expensive CAD and GIS software (Autodesk, Solidworks, ESRI, etc.); discovery of accurate usage of applications such as Visio, Project, O365, Adobe CC, which can either be harvested or stopped in the case of SaaS software; discovery of server software from IBM and Oracle, and discovery of the usage on the options and management packs of this software. This means that other SLM tools rely on running custom scripts to try and do this discovery, resulting in a time consuming, inaccurate and manual process.
Normalization. This means creating consistent names or identification for the discovery data, both the installed or used and the entitlement or purchase data.
Belarc automatically normalizes it’s own discovery data with no manual steps involved. Other SLM tools try to match the discovery data from multiple operations tools to a software catalog. This approach requires that the software catalog is up to date with newly released software and custom built software, something that is hardly practical. The result is much manual effort by the end user, SLM vendor or consultants to keep the software catalog continuously updated.
License position. This task involves calculating the licenses required based on the installed or usage data and the software vendor’s licensing rules and metrics, and then comparing that to the end-user’s entitlements or purchases.
Sometimes the license type (Server/CAL or CPU, for example) or whether a license is even required (in the case of bundled software or fail-over instances) can be automatically discovered and Belarc uses this information to automatically apply the correct licensing rules and metrics to these instances. Other SLM products require the end user to always manually apply the correct license type to each instance of the product.
License optimization. This step involves comparing the end-user’s current entitlements and licensing rules to alternative licensing rules typically from the same vendor and looking for cost advantages. For example comparing Server/CAL licenses to Processor or CPU licenses; comparing renewing a ULA (Unlimited License Agreement) or certifying and going off the ULA. Considering other vendor’s products is not usually part of the license optimization step, but it certainly should be.
Belarc’s SLM tool is built on a full featured business intelligence tool and allows our end users complete ability to customize and do what-if analysis on the data.
These points are seen in the following flow charts. The first chart shows the current “patchwork quilt” of products and consultants that are required by most SLM tools. Because these tools are reliant on operations tools for their discovery data they are often lacking the data necessary for SLM and require much time and effort to run custom scripts. Normalization is also a problem because it requires that the software catalog or signatures are always up to date, which is often not the case.
The second chart shows Belarc’s fully integrated (Discovery, Normalization, License Position and License Optimization) approach, which allows for easy implementation and minimal on-going maintenance costs.
Patchwork quilt of products and consultants
Belarc’s integrated and automated SLM process
Belarc’s unique features for SLM
Belarc’s products offer the following unique features to help manage and optimize your SLM task:
Belarc obtained a U.S. patent in 2013 which automatically determines when all installed software was last used. This feature is very useful for software harvesting, where instead of purchasing additional copies of Project, Visio or Office Pro, for example, these packages can be moved from desktops where they are under utilized to those who need them, thereby avoiding the cost of additional purchases and maintenance. Belarc’s method discovers the last used time of all the installed applications immediately and does not need to be installed for six months to a year before the data can be used.
On the server side, BelManage automatically discovers all of the virtual machines (VMs) and the dependency mapping between the VM guests and the physical host machines. This data is essential for licensing server software such as SQL Server, Windows Server and Oracle databases. This information is used in the Data Analytics reports which combine the discovered server data with the licensing metrics for these products and the purchase records. BelManage supports Windows, VMware and Linux hypervisors and the Windows, Linux and Solaris (x86) server operating systems.
This is where a licensing tool such as Belarc’s Data Analytics module can be very helpful, because it combines the discovered instances of software, with our customer’s purchase records and the current product licensing metrics from the vendors. This also allows our end-users to run what-if scenarios to see what licensing scheme works best for their organization.