Don’t Miss Out on the Full Scope of Possibilities from Snow License Manager
In the past, the motivation for adopting a software asset management (SAM) solution was often compliance. This has now largely changed as more organizations are waking up to the idea that SAM intelligence has a much greater commercial value. This sentiment was evident from the findings of a poll of Snow customers where 36% of our customers said they now placed greater importance on achieving software cost savings through their SAM program than simply ensuring they were compliant with their licensing obligations. Only 22% of users said their SAM program was still primarily focused on reacting to a vendor audit.
To support this change in priorities, SAM solutions have in turn been evolving to support better decision-making. They can now provide an asset repository, IT risk register and a source of detailed information to support a variety of functions – from procurement, HR and finance, through to security and facilities management. But, although the awareness exists that there’s more to SAM than simple compliance, behaviours have yet to follow and many users are not fully utilizing the broad functionality now available. Returning to the same customer survey to back this up, 91% of respondents said they were still only using their SAM solution for hardware and software asset tracking; and they also admitted that they use less than 60% of the software’s functionality.
As a rich source of information, a SAM solution could and should be used for so much more. This article proposes three additional ways that data within SAM could be used to improve organizational decision-making.
1: Measuring Success
Consider the example of a head of internal training within an international organization that has just deployed a brand-new HR app, allowing employees to update their own profiles, complete timesheets, set training requirements and career goals. A SAM solution can monitor the uptake of this application, enabling further trend analysis to find out which regions or departments are “struggling” with the use of the app and where to direct additional training resources. No software change program can really be considered successful without this level of user acceptance analysis.
2: Providing an IT Risk Register
Today, Snow’s GDPR Risk Assessment identifies more than 23,000 application versions that hold or transmit personal data, and can flag devices which are insufficiently protected, for example, due to lack of encryption and/ or anti-virus software. This solution continuously analyzes applications and surfaces issues through out-of-the-box management reports so organizations can see, understand and mitigate risk.
With minor changes, it’s possible to extend a SAM solution to also provide an IT risk register. Banks and other financial institutions now have a greater number of regulatory rules imposed on them. GDPR being one of them that isn’t limited to the finance industry only, however some of the regulations require banks to have the ability to track what software and hardware is in use by their different business units during day-to-day operations. A SAM solution can provide this and will show what is installed and where, plus which users are accessing those applications.
It is also possible to extend the information with some additional fields (for both hardware and software) to record, for instance, a risk category that indicates how critical the relevant asset is to the business. Combining this with standard information such as “end of support” and “end of life” dates. Reports can be run such as highlighting all hardware that is reaching the end of support phase in the next 6-12 months, sorting hardware according to how critical it is for maintaining business as usual (BAU), identifying where upgrade or replacement priorities should be and investigating potential extended warranties. It is also possible to model which business units/ departments/ users are likely to be most affected by outages and what the financial impact could be.
Tracking Financial Expenditure
A SAM solution is also very useful for the finance function because it can be used for internal cross- charging and budgeting of IT services provided by an organization in the same way as it can monitor software spend and match it with licensing entitlements. SAM data forms the essential ingredient in a cross-charging policy because it helps to isolate exactly how software and other IT resources are being utilized based on:
Cost of ownership
Number of installs
General usage levels by individual users and departments
The data from SAM solution can also be used to obtain tax relief or cash rebates from the taxman. In the UK, HMRC offers all companies the opportunity to obtain a generous level of corporation tax relief or a 14.5% tax credit on 125% of qualifying expenditure. In very simple terms, if your company is involved with innovative “R&D” projects (based on HMRC’s criteria), you could obtain tax credits to cover costs incurred on the hardware, software, energy, property and human resources used by that function during the project. By configuring a SAM solution in the right way, it is possible to quickly identify many of the relevant assets involved and extract the data needed to submit as evidence to support a claim.
Set SAM Free
Your Snow License Manager is essential for organizations wanting to understand their compliance position and it is a way to avoid overspending on software for all the major vendors ranging from Microsoft to Autodesk, Adobe, Oracle and SAP.
But, it is also much more than that. When used in conjunction with the right people and processes, Snow License Manager can become the de facto IT intelligence tool. It is a source of constantly updated data that can enable business operations from the boardroom to HR, from business resilience to procurement and contract management to be optimized. And let’s not overlook its value for IT too.
It's great to see Snow once again shortlisted as the 'Tools Provider of the Year' in the ITAM Review 2017 Excellence Awards. And you just know that I'd love Snow to win! So if you have a spare 60 seconds, I'd really appreciate you following the link below to place a quick vote for us!
I'd also like to quickly congratulate all the Snow customers (David, Mark, Christian, Daniel), staff (Jelle, Julia) and partners (Civica, Softcat) that have made it to the shortlists for 'ITAM Professional of the Year', 'ITAM Project or Implementation of the Year' and 'Partner of the Year'.
I'm so proud to be part of this great community! Good luck to all nominees and hopefully see you at the awards in November.
I regularly get asked the question of what is SAM all about?
Before I answer I always sit back and think about, who is asking the question? What is their function? What industry are they in? What are they looking for? What keeps them awake at night?
And then answer their question with the fact it is about compliance, it is about audit defence, it is about cost reduction and optimization.
But I’m thinking, isn’t the answer in the title? SAM or to give SAM it’s full name Software Asset Management.
The management of software assets! All of the above are by products of SAM.
First of all, you have to accept that software is an asset. A piece of software whether it is the multi million pound ERP platform or the ‘free’(nothing is truly free) download development tool. They are assets to your business. They keep the business running on a day to day basis. They can improve your bottom line and company efficiency or vice versa, harm your bottom line and efficiency if they don’t work.
So SAM is about knowing what software you have within your business, it is about understanding what the functionality of the product is, what product family does it belong to, what version is it, when does it go end of life, who manufactured it?
It is about knowing any and all associated information such as, where is the software installed? Does it run on Windows, Unix, Linux, Mac? Is it on a desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, server? Are they physical, virtual, in the cloud?
It is about capturing financial and entitlement information. What are the terms and conditions of the contract, when does it expiry? What are the agreed metrics by which you are measured for compliance? What is the cost of the product license? What is the cost to maintain it?
It is about understanding how the software is used? By whom, how, when, where? It is about what influence business requirements have on how the software is used, whether the requirements are regulatory or internal policies and procedures, it is about understanding and visualising the trend.
Does that mean you can just capture all of the above and stick them into a database/spreadsheet and run your own algorithms on the data? Sure you can but using tools such as Snow License Manager where a lot of the hard work has already been done, you will get to your compliance answers and or optimization answers a lot quicker.
A platform like Snow License Manager already has the intelligence that tells you whether software has not been used, what product family it belongs to, what metrics you need to apply for compliance, whether you are entitled to upgrades or downgrades based on contracts, when software is nearing end of support or end of life.
To go back to the original question, what is SAM all about?
It is about control, it is about collecting all relevant information about the assets, to then analyse said information. Enabling you to provide a compliance position, to help you optimize your software spend, to provide you with regulatory information(GDPR), to alert you to exceptions, to catch vulnerabilities before they become a problem, to help you run and control your business.
What wonderful complex and clever creatures we are, the amount of decisions we make and information we ‘compute’ consciously or sub-consciously every single second of the day is staggering.
Image you are on your way into the office, apart from the bare essentials such as breathing, sub consciously we are processing things like, the route we are taking, the weather conditions, the feel of the steering wheel, the sound of the radio, the engine of the car.
We are comparing our surroundings to the last time we travelled the same route, the fact that the building across the road has been repainted, the bike that was chained up against the lamppost has moved. All this is happening without conscious thought.
We take in the other traffic on the road, the bike that this coming round the corner, will it turn right or left? Will it stop in time? Will the car behind you stop in time should you have to brake suddenly for the bike? All these are happening in a split second.
On top of all that you are thinking about your work day, reminding yourself you have to talk to the Oracle database administrators and request the detailed information to complete the Oracle Server Worksheet, the fact you have to pull information out of several databases to work out how many Windows 7, 8 and hopefully no XP machines are left in the estate, what software is running on them, can the software be transferred onto the Windows 10 computers, whether you have enough licenses, what departments are going to be affected, how long will it take to roll out and train everybody. Oh and make a start on the IBM PVU calculations.
It is going to be another busy day if only you could do some of these things sub-consciously (automatically)!
Wait you can!
You could use Snow software to perform these tasks, it can tell you what Oracle options are installed and being used, it will fill in the majority of the Oracle Server Worksheet, it will tell you how many Windows x machines you have and what software is installed, whether the licenses are transferable, where they are in the estate, who uses them, it will run the IBM PVU calculations for you and lots more.
Don’t forget to use your data and analyse. Ask the questions and make the decisions.
A couple of nights ago, the Kingfisher Information Technology Services team won the Overall Project/Strategy award at SAMS Europe 2017. “The implementation of Snow Optimizer for SAP® Software allows Kingfisher to measure, understand and optimise our use of SAP licensing as we develop a new unified IT platform, based on a single global SAP solution.”
The award was collected by Colin Simmons, Group IT Asset Manager, on the team’s behalf, from SAMS Europe compère Philippe Stern
There was a man called Ian T. Man who installed a software asset management solution. He rolled out the clients to the whole of his computer estate and received data back on a daily basis.
He then went to his boss, Charles I. Oliver and told him,” You know that software asset management issue we had? It is a problem no longer.”
“Great, thank you well done Ian”, said Charles.
For six months they lived in relative peace with the thought that the software asset management solution had everything covered. Early one morning a letter arrived on Charles I. Oliver’s desk from one of the big bad software ogres demanding an audit of the estate.
Charles thought no problem we have a software asset management solution and promptly instructed Ian T. Man to invite the ogres in.
After a few months of disruption the main ogre presented Charles with an audit report, promptly followed by a bill totalling a third of their annual IT budget.
What?! Ian, How is this possible?! We have a software asset management tool?!!
Ah ehm yes. I forgot to make sure the license data was entered, oh and we only rolled it out to our Microsoft estate.
You know the desktop refresh we did two months ago? We managed to install the professional version instead of the standard version. We thought installing the software asset management solution would be enough.
So what can we learn from this ‘fairy tale’?
Well to start with most tales have a grain of truth to them they started as a true story and in this case it isn’t that far-fetched (names have been changed to protect all parties).
Software asset management is not a project or a self-serving solution. It is something that should be managed and be part of your companies day to day operations. Deploying a technology is only part of the whole picture. The picture can be broken down into three main components;
Technology: ensure you have visibility of your entire infrastructure from desktops to servers, physical to virtual, Wintel through to UNIX and Linux. Make sure that data collected is correct, software recognition is accurate, detailed metering data is also an important component to being able to analyse the information.
People: define roles and responsibilities for your SAM team, train them on what SAM is, how to interpret the data, what to look for from a licensing but also from a business perspective. Educate them on the financial, contractual and legal risks. Communicate SAM to the business. What is it? Why do it? The benefits to the end user as well as the board level.
Process: ensure that SAM processes are in place, that the technology and data are used in the decision processes for IT procurement, project management, HR joiners and leavers, moves and disposals as well as governance to oversee all of the above.
Lastly be aware of external forces on your Software Asset Management function such as BYOD, BYOA, shadow IT, SaaS, IaaS, vendor mergers and acquisitions, licensing changes due technology advancement even market demand for experienced SAM resources can have an impact due to staff turnover.
With more than 1,000 SAM, IT and Procurement professionals taking part in 2017, SnowStorms represented the largest global gathering of stakeholders charged with managing their organizations' consumption and optimization of on-premise and cloud software.
As we begin the process of making the SnowStorms even better in 2018, we invite you to have your say and help us ensure that we meet your needs.
Please take this simple nine-question survey, which requires no more than two minutes to complete:
CEOs and CISOs rely on IT teams to protect their companies from cybersecurity issues, but they may not be covering all their bases. After the necessary firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and anti-malware products have been put in place there is one area of IT infrastructure that companies are leaving wide open to attack: their software portfolio.
Software is the ultimate attack vector. Rogue applications are a popular tool among cyber-criminals, who use malicious software to mount attacks on corporate networks. Unless a company has a complete picture of what is running on its systems, it could be under attack and not even see it.
Cost of Security Failures
A company’s awareness of its own software inventory directly affects its corporate risk, at a high level. The cost of data breaches in the UK is soaring, according to research published this year by the UK government, in conjunction with PwC.
In 2014, cybersecurity breaches for large companies cost between £600,000 and £1.15m on average. IN 2015, the average cost window ranged between £1.46m and a whopping £3.14m. Smaller businesses are also finding data breaches more painful, with the cost rising from £65,000–£115,000 IN 2014 ago to £75,000–£311,000 IN 2015. Factored into these figures are costs incurred through business disruption, lost sales, asset recovery, and compensation. This years costs will be significantly higher as the fall out of ransom ware like WannaCry and Petya are still being counted.
The Dangers of Software Blindness
One of the biggest vulnerabilities in an organization is old software. Many companies have difficulty organizing security patches for current versions of software, but older versions represent an even bigger security threat. Outdated browsers, for example, are a gift for attackers.
Similarly, unauthorized installations of software on corporate PCs represent a big threat. Pirated, unlicensed software is frequently infected with malware, for example, while software legitimately paid for but not authorized by IT can also broaden the attack surface because it will inevitably contain its own security vulnerabilities, or offer features that could lead employees to compromise the company’s data.
How SAM can help
Board executives need to be sure that their IT departments have control of this situation, and are using the appropriate tools to both lock down unauthorized software installations and keep track of what is on the network. Software asset management tools can help in a few ways.
Two of the most useful features in these tools are blacklisting and whitelisting. Blacklisting prevents particular software from being installed on the system, typically based on a digital fingerprint or signature, effectively locking out a known subset of dangerous software.
Whitelisting takes this a step further, allowing only a pre-authorized list of software products to be installed on a system. This enables IT administrators to lock out anything that their software team hasn’t approved by default.
Whitelisting not only protects corporate computers from unauthorized software, but can also form a platform for improving the level of service that IT provides to employees. Armed with a whitelist and the tools to enforce it, IT departments can create self-service portals that enable employees to install software from this pre-authorized list as they need it. Imagine the equivalent of an online app store for your company, and imagine what this would mean to employees who want the same kinds of experiences as with consumer devices.
Competent software asset management tools will also scan installed software for out-of-date versions, bringing them to the IT team’s attention. This empowers them to update that software, negotiating new licenses with their vendors if necessary.
Companies can also use SAM to avoid one of the other threats to corporate security: unauthorized users. When employees leave a company, poor management practices can leave their software user accounts open, enabling attackers to impersonate them and use the software to access company resources.
Automating the reassignment of named licenses for company software helps to eliminate this risk, ‘tying off’ loose ends when an employee leaves or changes their role within the company, and closing those potential loopholes.
Companies without the tools to gather information and enforce these policies risk a chaotic and opaque software environment, in which security threats go unnoticed. So, the first question that board-level executives should ask in the next meeting with the IT team is: how confident are you that you know what’s running on our networks?
We want your experience on the Snow Globe to as relevant and personal as possible.
By updating your profile to include a little more information, you will be able to more quickly access the right information for the products you have, the country in which you are located and your role in the organization.
For example, moving forward we will be using functionality on the Snow Globe to automatically send information about important new releases to community members who have (or have an interest in) those specific products. But that only works if you update your profile to include your product preferences!
Updating your profile is quick and easy.
Simply click on your avatar at the top right of the screen and select 'Edit Profile' from the drop-down list. On the Edit Profile page, you can add extra information such as your job title, the Snow products you want to know about and your location. Feel free to tell everyone a little about yourself as well, using the Biography section.
And that's it! You will immediately be able to use the 'My Products' tab on the home page to quickly view updates that are relevant to your products. And in the near future we will implement the proactive notification functionality mentioned above. We'll also be running local events for Snow customers, so your location information will help us make sure you don't miss an invite.
I hope you are enjoying this first phase of the Snow Globe. There is much more to come!
We are very proud to share the news that, last night in California, Snow License Manager won the 2017 SIIA CODiE award for "Best IT Operations Management Solution". A fantastic accolade and another proof point that Snow License Manager is at the top of its game, driving value to organizations committed to optimizing their IT operations across all platforms and vendors.
We are very pleased to congratulate the fantastic team at Civica for recently winning the Microsoft SAM Partner of the Year award! Top work guys!
In fact, that makes it five years in a row that a Snow partner has won this prestigious award. Not bad if we say so ourselves. It seems award-winning SAM services teams know a thing or two about selecting the right technologies to help them deliver the very best services.
Snow Team of the Year: ABN AMRO bank & ITAM solutions (Netherlands), GfK (Germany), Sky (UK).
“These awards celebrate the achievements of true legends in our industry,” says Axel Kling CEO of Snow. “Our customers are great example of how SAM helps optimize estates and ensure cost containment. When organizations start their SAM journey, they can be daunted by what they might unearth but they quickly realize license optimization and reduce IT spend on a scale well beyond their initial expectations.”
As we strive to deliver brilliance to all members of our Snow global community, 650 Snow Yetis will this week fly from all over the world to meet in Stockholm for three days of working together, understanding best practices and sharing knowledge about helping organizations achieve their goals of optimizing software and cloud spend.
Luckily for us, we will be spending time on the beautiful island fortress of Vaxholm, in the Stockholm archipelago.
Unfortunately for you, the wifi and phone signal on Vaxholm is sketchy at best.
So, that does mean that our Snow experts might be a little slower than normal to reply to questions and conversation on the Snow Globe between July 11th and 13th. We hope that you will bear with us during this time, in the understanding that our brief absence will be more than repaid going forward.
We look forward to resuming ‘normal service’ as soon as possible!
Struggling to find an answer to your SAM related question? Struggle no more!
Our crack team of support experts are standing by to get you the answer you need!
With the launch of our new Snow Globe community we want to make sure our customers are getting the best support available, so we will be hosting regular online discussions, focusing on the most popular topics. This will give you the opportunity to engage directly with Snow subject matter experts.
Our first discussion will start tomorrow and will focused on everything Snow License Manager (SLM)! We will have the conversation monitored by our support staff to ensure that your questions are answered quickly and thoroughly. While this conversation is not a direct replacement for support, it’s purpose will be to answer those quick hitting questions you have around SLM.
The thread will be posted to the Snow License Manager product space and will be live on Thursday of this week. After that, the replies will be disabled but the conversation itself will still be there and searchable. So get your questions ready and we hope to see you online!