In this blog post I would like to address the best possible ways to create a digital contract management system in Snow License Manager. As you might already know, Snow License Manager contains separate sections for storing agreement and license information. The questions raised many times are:
- How do I obtain all this information
- Where should I start first in Snow License Manager
- Which types of agreements can and should I store in Snow License Manager
- What type of data is mandatory or just nice to have
- What are interesting reports to use for management.....
From a software optimization perspective – that contain different key competencies – it’s recommended to have a repository that shows information about all of your software purchases, including agreement information with the appropriate terms and condition, plus possible amendments that have been agreed upon between your company and the software vendor.
The main question here is: “how complete and accurate are our license entitlement records and what percentage of the procured license entitlements are actually recorded in a license entitlement inventory”?
The most common risks and implications of not having an agreement and license repository are:
- Risk of non-compliance and meeting other regulatory standards due to non-availability of proof of licensing documentation.
- Locally acquired licenses are not maintained in a centrally available license database.
- Risk of over- or underlicensing situations due to lack of global view for all procured licenses.
- Loss of bundling effects with regard to license purchases due to missing global overview over licensing situation.
Especially, global companies that - to a certain extent - allow subsidiaries to acquire licenses locally could end-up not seeing the big picture. For those companies that already have a centralized purchasing department and large volume license agreements that apply to most or all of the subsidiaries, you still wish to periodically review the license entitlement data capture process, either form an optimization or a retirement perspective.
Before I actually show the possibilities from within the Snow License Manager, I think it’s vital to first discuss ways to obtain agreement and license information, so we get a better understanding of the possible percentage that we eventually are able or want to store in our digital Snow License Manager repository. Which steps could we take to increase the maturity (completeness and accuracy) of our license entitlement repository? Important information can be gathered from within your company, but also from the market. Besides, your quest to gather this information, you might also want to have a look at the current processes and tasks that lead up to a license purchase and what happens next.
My recommendations to increase the maturity of your current license entitlement inventory and gather the information you need, would be to:
- Try to reach out to third parties to collect software purchase information. Third parties like large account resellers or value added resellers. Purchase information like; date, quantity, description, part/sku number, metric information, agreement number, maintenance period and maintenance rights, restrictions and other license rights that might be of interest!
- Try to reach out directly to your Tier 1 vendors to request license summaries. Microsoft is well-known to share a Microsoft License Statement with their customers.
- If your company went through joint-ventures or acquisitions, it’s highly recommended to specify what software records you still own or don’t own any more. When you acquired software this way, you need to make sure that you store details like:
- actual proof of purchases
- the approval of the transfer from the software vendor
- the quantity purchased
- license description, including, metric, edition and/or version
- license only and not maintenance (many software vendors don’t allow maintenance to be transferred)
- See if you have made any software purchases that are not based on a volume license agreement, like OEM software that is associated with your hardware purchases and other box-like-purchases. These types of purchases are usually not part of the purchase records kept by vendors. Either you have stored this somewhere in the company or your preferred reseller might assist you with this.
- Review your existing purchase orders so that you might identify (large) software entitlement purchases and know which other entitlement documents you need to locate to complete each record.
- Classify your software estate into Tier 1,2 or 3 vendors based on spend and risk. Tier 1 vendor usually come with a high risk, because of possible audits and account for most of your software spend. Tier 2 vendors have a mid-to- high risk for audits and account for an average of 20% of your software spend, and Tier 3 vendors usually have a low risk for audits and account for a maximum of 5% of your software spend.
- Institute a policy that controls software purchases which need to go through approved procedures, before actually being installed or procured.
- See if you can automate this process by offering a centralized self-service portal from where the business can only select what you offer them, including the appropriate authorization layer(s). This minimizes exceptions and maximizes the creation of license entitlement records and at the same time will prevent entitlement data to exist that does not contain proof of license data.
- Try to validate the existence of entitlement records for the software that is actually deployed throughout your organisation. This way you can ensure which records you need to collect, if available. Due to the facts that Snow License Manager will show you a very large list of normalized software installations, you might also wish to separate that list into Tier 1,2 and 3 vendors.
Of course, you could decide to do this one software vendor at a time, with regards to gathering as much entitlement data as you possible can. The moment that you think that you have sufficient data that you wish to store in Snow License Manager, I do recommend to first analyse your deployment and inventory situation on these vendors. Regardless, which vendor you want to add agreements and licenses into Snow License Manager, first have a look at the application list in Snow License Manager to see what is already installed and especially check is the correct metric is applied! In the screenshot (picture 1) below you can see that you have different filter and grouping options to change the view.
Let’s say, I start with a particular software vendor and I filter on that vendor. I might get a list, that could contain installations of different applications from that vendor and the list might not contain any installations of entitlements I did purchase.
Here’s the challenge and the important things you should take into consideration and might need to do before you actually add a license of this software vendor. First focus on those applications that are actually discovered and inventoried in your estate. A simple example can been see in the screenshot below (picture 2).
In this example, I end up with 9 different applications that according to Snow License Manager require a license. If the metric is already correct, then I can continue and add the licenses. If my entitlement records tell me, that a different metric applies to one or more of these applications, then I need to adjust that metric, so that Snow License Manager is able to calculate the correct compliance delta. The thing is, that in Snow License Manager there are two places where you can adjust or set the metric that should apply! You can either select the metric that you want on the “application” and also on the “license”.
At this moment we are looking at a selection of the application list, because I’ve filter on a particular vendor. So, let’s first have a look at the options that are available when adjusting/changing the metric on application level, as you can in picture 3 below.
To be able to change the metric of an application, you need to select the application and then click on “edit application”. In the next view, you need to select the second tab called “License settings”. Here you have to following options:
- No license required: check this box if you think the application doesn’t need to be licensed.
- Installation: this means that the number of unique installations inventoried are counted and represents the license requirement value.
- Custom compare values: use this option to determine the license requirement value yourself manually or even automatically this by setting up an import/export in the back-end.
- Number of processors: select this metric when the number of processors of each asset is the metric that applies, with the options to even determine a minimum number of processors.
- Number of processor cores: select this metric when the number of cores of each asset is the metric that applies, with the options to even determine a minimum number of cores.
- Users: this will count the number of unique application users for a particular period – which you can determine – and the total sum of users represents the license requirement value.
- Devices: this will count the number of unique devices that are using the application, regardless of the number of installations for a particular period - which you can determine - and the total sum of devices represents the license requirement value. This metric is usually used for Terminal server or Citrix environments.
- Concurrent users: this will count the number of unique simultaneous application users for a particular period – which you can determine – and the total sum of simultaneous users represents the license requirement value. This metric is also usually used for Terminal server or Citrix environments.
- Concurrent devices: this will count the number of unique simultaneous devices utilizing the applications for a particular period – which you can determine – and the total sum of simultaneous devices represents the license requirement value. This metric is also usually used for Terminal server or Citrix environments.
- PVU: This metric is based on IBM PVU (Processor Value Unit) values of computers and we recommend to integrate with ILMT or BigFix, so that this metric is automatically set within your Snow platform. Please contact a Snow representative for more information on this matter.
- CAL (Client Access License): The CAL metric is only a registration of the number of licenses. Select this metric if the license you have purchase is clearly is CAL. No compliance is calculated based on this metric, except when you apply the “custom compare value”
In the current application list I need to adjust only one application. After saving the change, the application will be update immediately as you can see in picture 4 and in picture 5.
What about possible entitlements that I might have within my purchase records, but are not displayed in the application list in Snow License Manager. This basically means that I have purchased a license, but we aren’t yet utilizing the application (it’s not installed and therefore not inventoried). In case you also need to adjust the metric on these applications or you wish to make sure the metric is correct, you have the options to search on applications that are “not” installed.
To do this, you need to go to the “Applications” category in the top main menu and select “Search for applications”. There you need to select the correct search criteria to get the desired overview. In the screenshot (picture 6) below you can see that I have used the following two criteria to create a list of all applications available in the Software Recognition library, regardless if it’s installed or not.
- Criteria 1 = Manufacturer. I have entered the manufacturer exactly the way it exist in Snow.
- Criteria 2 = Also include not installed/used. Just make sure you set this to “Yes”.
The red arrow indicated, where you can add additional search criteria. As you can see, the total result is 209 items. The list also contains the 9 applications that are installed. I should be able to find the other applications in this list and if needed adjust the metric.
Now, that I’ve been able to gather all relevant entitlement and agreement details of the vendor(s) I want to store in Snow License Manager and I’ve also made sure that – as far as possible – the correct metrics are in place, I can finally start to add my entitlement data into Snow License Manager.
If you actually have an agreement, I would also advise you to add them into Snow License Manager. If you don’t have an agreement or any details that you could use to create an agreement first in Snow License Manager, you could simple skip this step or decide to do add an agreement and use other details to store the agreement in Snow. Other details could be your invoice information, budget number details etc.
In Snow License Manager you can store the following agreement types straight out-of-the-box (picture 7):
Picture 7 – main category is “Agreements” & then select “Add agreement” -
The main difference between the type “Software agreement” and the rest of the agreements (except the Oracle agreement) is that you can attached computers/assets to those agreements, located in a specific business unit. An example of this is shown in the screenshot below (picture 8). If you wish to only select just a couple or specific computers/assets, you’ll first need to save the agreement (maintenance / support / purchase) and then go to the computer list, select those assets that you wish to attach and from the context menu select “edit computers”. In the next view you’ll be able to select the agreement that you wish to attach to those computer assets!
Regardless, which agreement type you select, you’ll always want to populate as many fields as possible located in the different tabs before you save your agreement.
- Tab – General:
- add the agreement number here (this number has to be unique in SLM)
- add an appropriate name for your agreement; like “Microsoft Enterprise Agreement E351198”
- subscription agreement = check this box if the agreement is a subscription
- upgrade rights = check this box if all the entitlements in the agreement have upgrade rights
- selectable after expiration = tick this box, if you wish to link licenses to the agreement, even if the agreement period is expired
- Tab – Agreement periods: add the active period of the agreement here
- Tab – Contact info: add contact details about the software vendor and your reseller here
- Tab – Alerts: activate the alerts with three particular threshold so that you are notified in time when the agreement is about the expire. The amount of time you need to renew the agreement should be the minimum amount of time you wish to be notified in advance. I recommend to take more time then you might think you need. In the administration section of Snow License Manager (located under “Home”) you might always wish to active e-mail notification about agreements that will expire.
- Tab – Description: add anything here that you might think be of any interest to mentioned about the agreement
- Tab – Documents: attached actual files here to the agreement or use a redirect link if you should have this available (a document management system like SharePoint)
- Tab – Custom information: add additional fields created by your self here. To create a custom field you need to go to the administration section of Snow License Manager (located under “Home”).
- Tab – Security: here can prevent other Snow user profiles or business units to see the agreement
Important note: The agreement type “Software agreement” is the only agreement that you can use to link software licenses to!
In the screenshot (picture 9) below you can see a possible final result of adding different agreements and types.
Once you have added the agreement(s) you want to be a part of the contract management repository in Snow License Manager, you’ll also need to add the most important part, which is the actual software entitlements. From the main top menu category “Licenses” you need to select “Add license”. This will bring you to the add license section where you’ll need to populate particular fields in different tabs. Let’s have a closer look at the most important ones (picture 10).
The first two tabs will require you to add most of the actual purchase details, like: the purchase date, purchase price, invoice reference and the maintenance period (picture 11).
You can decide to add a maintenance period or check the box if the period is exactly the same to the agreement the license is linked with.
What is rather important from a license rights perspective, is that you always add the correct version and edition of the application. Very recently purchased entitlement grant you the highest and latest version of the application, but always double check what applies each time you add a new license. You can use the application name or the SKU search to find the right applications (1 picture 10).
After selecting the correct application/license, in the drop-down box for Agreement you can link the license record to the agreement, you’ve created previously (2 picture 10).
The options available in the red rectangle (3 picture 10) all depend on the type of license you have purchased.
- Downgrade rights: check this box if the license is purchased with downgrade rights
- Upgrade license: check this box if the license is an upgrade license and then also make sure to establish the correct relation with the base license in the additional tab that will appear.
- Cross edition rights: check this box if the license allows for coverage of applications within the family with the same or lower “edition” rights.
- Cross platform rights: check this box if the license allows for coverage of applications within the family and the same edition, “regardless” of the operating system they are installed on.
- License has a subscription period: check this box and enter the correct subscription period if the license is a subscription license.
Besides the settings and the information in the first two tabs, it is also vital that you determine if the correct metric is applied. As mentioned before, when you adjust a metric of an application, this will automatically be applied when you add the corresponding license for that application. For all other cases, you might wish to change the metric each time you add a new license record.
As you can see in the screenshot (picture 12) above, you do have some options to select from. Please note, that not all the metrics that you saw in an application are also available here. Some are not available and two new ones are available on the license. The first step is that you select the metric and then select the correct assignment type.
- Example: if I wish to assign SQL core licenses to server, the metric should be “Number of processor cores” and the assignment type should be “Computer/datacenter”
- Example: if I wish to assign a named user MSDN subscription license to an employee of my company, the metric should be “Installations” and the assignment type should be “User”
- Example: if I wish to assign a Windows External Connector to a particular business unit, the metric should be “Installations” and the assignment type should be “Site”
- Example: if I wish to assign a Windows Enterprise server 2008 to a server, the metric should be “Installations” and the assignment type should be “Computer/datacenter”
After you adjusted the metric and the assignment type or kept it default, you should always go to the third tab “Assignment” and based on the assignment type that you selected add the correct assets, e.g.; machine, user or business unit.
I recon the other tabs are self-explanatory, so I’ll skip them in this blog. I you should have any questions about one of the other tabs, just let me know in the comments below. In the following screenshot (picture 13) you can see how the end result can look like when you have many different kinds of licenses in Snow License Manager.
Now that we have added some all or just one record and contract in Snow License Manager, it’s also nice to know that under the category “Reports” you can find some interesting out-of-the-box reports, you can use to create, store and share. If you select the two categories as shown in picture 14: Agreement- and License reports, you immediately get a list of all the reports available.
Especially, the reports available in the “Standard reports” group (picture 15) are very interesting to use to manage you whole software entitlement database.
Just to name a few, which I find very interesting and always discuss with my customers:
- Incomplete licenses: If you have any incomplete licenses in the system, you definitely want to make sure these all become complete. Incomplete licenses are not taken into account when Snow License Manager calculates the compliance.
- License compliance reports: it makes perfect sense, that you want to know what the impact is of adding all those licenses in Snow License Manager. With the compliance reports you can see the results straight away.
- Maintenance and support overview: when you have active maintenance and support details with financial figures in Snow License Manager, this is the report to use and find out what your renewal cash flow is from year-to-year.
- Potential software cost savings: this report is all based on software usage, and will inform you about application s that are unused in percentages, but it will also inform you about the compliance delta for those same applications. Imaging you are missing licenses for a particular applications and at the same the business is not consuming the application!
- Unassigned licenses: use this report to see which licenses still need to be assigned to an asset (machine, user or business unit). Unassigned licenses are not taken into account when Snow License Manager calculates the compliance.
I hope this blog shines some light on the steps you need to take to fill your own contract and license repository in Snow License Manager. Don’t hesitate to comment on this blog post or reach out to me or any of your local Snow contacts for more assistance and guidance.