Software Asset Management - How Do Catalog Based Tools Work?

By Kacey Weinberg, Aspera GmbH, Aspera GmbH |  Software, license management, SAM

This unique approach integrates software asset management with enterprise procurement.

Software Asset Management (SAM) is nothing new. For years, managing software assets meant: “Sure, we have a discovery tool that tells us what applications are running on our computers and a software license inventory to compare for compliance. The procurement department also keeps excel sheets that document what licenses we own.” Software asset management – not really.

Today, SAM means much more than just tracking assets. It has developed to encompass all aspects of efficient, cost-effective administration. For one, just tracking your software licenses for compliance purposes doesn’t help you in M&A when you need to reconcile software assets. Can you reallocate your Microsoft Office 2007 licenses to the new division in Dubai? Your company purchased licenses with downgrade rights, do you know which ones? Being able to easily handle these types of issues requires accurate information on license parameters.

In large enterprises recording this data manually is simply not an option. Can you picture the poor soul hired to type in all the required data for each of the thousands of licenses purchased? He would never see the light of day.

Welcome to catalog based software license management. This unique approach integrates SAM with enterprise procurement.

How does it work?
In order to automate the time consuming and error prone task of manually entering license parameters into the system, the SAM tool integrates into the company’s chosen procurement system. When licenses are purchased the tool pulls out the unique manufacturer SKU numbers assigned to each software product. Each SKU contains information such as: price, license type, maintenance terms, time period, geographical restrictions, language, up/downgrade rights, etc.

The SAM tool validates the SKU numbers of purchased licenses against its SKU catalog, which contains all the information mentioned above. The license terms are automatically recorded by the tool for each purchase, ensuring accurate data, which is immediately made available by the click of a mouse to the SAM manager.

Depending on the type of license you purchased, which the tool will identify, you'll know whether you can send your Microsoft Office licenses over to Dubai or not. You can immediately see which licenses have downgrade rights and even observe how much you could save by downgrading instead of purchasing new licenses. All this and more following ITIL Best Practices for SAM. What’s even better, that poor guy in the basement can go on vacation.

Availability
Unfortunately, not many tools available on the market provide this service. But the good news is catalog based SAM is out there and it isn’t something new. Aspera GmbH has, for example, been offering its catalog based tool, SmartTrack, since 2000.

Will more tools providers develop catalog based SAM tools in the future? The need is there and some vendors are considering developing an index. However, it takes years to compile a reliable catalog due to the sheer volume of software products available, different product signatures, and new releases that come out. It also demands constant updating and maintenance on the part of the provider to keep the catalog accurate and current. But most importantly, this type of tool is process oriented and requires process changes in the company. This means the provider is selling much more than just a tool, but a SAM solution that entails training IT staff and supporting them on a long term basis.

In your company's RFI, be sure to ask the SAM tool providers if they offer this service - and the support needed to ensure its success in your company.

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