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Why are we metering windows application usage? The primary focus is to measure the usage of desktop applications. If a user is using Microsoft Office 2016 Excel and then locks the computer, we know that the application will not be used until the computer is unlocked again. Since we are not interested in the time that we know Microsoft Office 2016 Excel is not used, we disregard that time. The main drawback with this approach is that we will not measure scheduled tasks and other background processes, such as anti-virus software, as used during the time that the computer is locked, although these processes might be executing in the background. 


To deliver this information, our agent gathers the necessary raw data. To enable Snow License Manager to calculate a combined duration of use for an application, the agent subscribes to start and stop events in the operating system, collecting the open and close timestamps for running applications. Deeper analysis of the user’s activity within a running process is not collected. So, a user can open Adobe Photoshop, for example, without doing anything within the application – the start and stop timestamps will be gathered by the agent anyway. However, the times that a computer is locked, in sleep mode, or hibernating are not included in the usage calculation.

The Snow License Manager web interface is currently the place where metering information is shown and below are three examples of what it can look like:

(The green boxes have been added to highlight where the metering details are shown)

We are looking at Jimmy Hill’s computer, COMPUTER01583.

By clicking the small arrow next to "Microsoft Office 2016 Excel", we expand this product to see the usage details:

Name, the name of the user that was using the application.

Last used, the date and time of the last known usage of the application, using the date/time settings (time zone, etc.) of the local computer.

Run, a "Snow interpretation" of how many times the application has been run. I will explain further down what we mean by Application usage (the "run count").

Total time (days:hh:mm), the total duration that the application has been run. This time does not include time when the screen is locked, in sleep mode, or hibernated. Multiple instances of the same application are disregarded. For example, if a user has 10 windows of Microsoft Word open for an hour, the total time is 1 hour, not 10 hours.

(The green boxes have been added to highlight where the metering details are shown)

We are looking at the specific application " Microsoft Office 2016 Excel " and the computers that have this application installed, with the following information from metering:

Last usedthe date and time of the last known usage of the application, using the date/time settings (time zone, etc.) of the local computer.

Runa "Snow interpretation" of how many times the application has been run. I will explain further down what I mean by "Snow interpretation".

Per run (hh:mm), the average time per run. For example, the average time per run is 44 min if the total time is 22 hours and the application has been run 30 times.

(The green boxes have been added to highlight where the metering details are shown)

We are looking at the "Application per user" report with report criteria Application like Microsoft Office 2016 Excel, via the Column selector we removed the columns Organisation and Application manufacturer and we added the columns Per day (hh:mm) and Total time (days:hh:mm): 

First usedthe date and time of the First known usage of the application, using the date/time settings (time zone, etc.) of the local computer.

Last usedthe date and time of the last known usage of the application, using the date/time settings (time zone, etc.) of the local computer.

Runhow many times the application has been run. I will explain further down what we mean by Application usage (the "run count").

Per run (hh:mm), the average time per run. For example, the average time per run is 44 min if the total time is 22 hours and the application has been run 30 times.

Per day (hh:mm), the average time per day. 

Total time (days:hh:mm), the total duration that the application has been run. This time does not include time when the screen is locked, in sleep mode, or hibernated. Multiple instances of the same application are disregarded. For example, if a user has 10 windows of Microsoft Word open for an hour, the total time is 1 hour, not 10 hours.


Application usage (the "run count") is calculated as follows:

  • The agent will check for events every 5 seconds (default value). Use the wmi.poll_interval setting in the agent configuration file to change the interval; 5 seconds is minimum and 120 seconds is maximum.
  • The agent increases the run count of an application only when it gets notified of a start event. If an application is started before the agent is running, that application will get a run count of "0".
  • When a scan is performed and the inventory result file is created, the run count will be set to "1" if the run counts reported from the agent sum up to "0".
  • When multiple instances of the same application are started, the agent counts all individual run starts during that session. However, the total duration will be counted from when the first instance is started until the last instance is closed.
  • A scheduled scan will contain all metering information that has been gathered since the last scheduled scan. A scheduled scan will clear all temporary metering files stored on disk, and new ones will be created after the scan with a run count of "0".
  • A manual scan will contain all metering information that has been created since the last scheduled scan. During the manual scan, the metering files stored on disk will be deleted, but their content is kept in memory. After the manual scan, the agent will recreate all metering files as they were before the scan.
  • At midnight local time, the agent will finalize the metering files for the currently running processes with an end time of 23.59.59. New metering files will be created with a start time of 00.00.00 on the next day


The primary focus of metering is desktop applications.

Metering of usage is performed whenever a Windows process is running. Processes are measured whether the application is open on the desktop or running in the background The following meta data is uniquely gathered per process:

  • File name
  • if the process is local
  • if the process is virtual
  • virtual app package name
  • username
  • date
  • File version info
  • usage data type (web, RDP, or VDI).


Criteria for showing application metering.

The criteria for the inventory client/agent to be able to track and display metering is that the application itself is recognized using a main executable file and the executable needs to create a service upon start, so that the client/agent can meter a start- and stop time of that application.

Keep in mind is that the client/agent might sometimes not pick up applications that are automatically started when booting the system if the application, and then also the service, is started BEFORE the inventory client/agent is, then the client/agent will not be able to get the start time of the service, which is criteria for it to be able to display metering data.

Harri Carroll (harri.carroll) and I recently visited the London School of Economics when the SAM team presented to the wider IT department about how they’ve been able to make savings and ensure license compliance with Snow.


Floriana Molone – whom we must first congratulate on recently winning a prestigious Women in IT Award for Future CIO of the Year values the end to end visibility she gets with Snow: “Up until we deployed Snow, we couldn’t track how many licenses we actually purchased for a specific area of the business. Now, we can clearly see who's got what and if it's utilized. Now we can look to redeploy licenses that were purchased for software that’s unused rather than buying license after license.


She adds, “We go into Snow, see how many are currently being used, and for whatever is not used, we can look to redeploy those licenses rather than buying new ones. We can also look at being smarter with our budgets and assess whether we should have enterprise agreements or buy licenses individually.


“If you don't have a solution like Snow, you won't be able to have the end-to-end visibility. You might lose track and keep buying, even when you have licenses available across the School. For us at the LSE we are talking about 24 departments plus research centers plus professional services divisions, so it’s a lot of businesses using licenses, and we have to be smart at spending the money we've been given.”


Chris Andrews (ChrisAndrews) and James Harvey (JHarvey) of LSE are at the coalface of managing licenses every day. They were recently approached by a vendor who was concerned about a particular area of compliance which they were able to quickly deflect, as James says: “After we mentioned we had Snow the conversation took a different route. The situation was quickly resolved, by generating a particular report that we shared with the vendor where they could see were in compliance.”


Chris adds, “Using Snow, we’ve been able to calculate risk avoidance of £300,000 (US $416,000). Also, we can now look at doing drastic cost-saving exercises because we can see exactly what's being used and what's not being used. We can enforce our policies and our procedures about making sure that people install the right versions of the license that we've bought. Previously we had a lot of different versions, incorrect installs, and incorrect and unauthorized upgrades not to mention the shelfware we had with Microsoft and Adobe, all of which [thanks to Snow] we’ve been able to monitor and make changes to ensure software compliance and optimize our estate making significant savings along the way.”

Snow Software Guest Blogger Abhinav Mittal advises how to quickly identify which vendors you should concentrate your efforts on first when it comes to #SAM. This is an approach which Abhinav has found useful in dealing with the overwhelming number of software applications discovered during a SAM implementation.


Read the full blog here.

Alastair Pooley to lead global IT strategic and operational planning

London, UK. February 15, 2018: Snow Software (Snow), the global leader in Software Asset Management (SAM) and Cloud Spend Management solutions today announced the appointment of Alastair Pooley as Chief Information Officer reporting to Ulf Kasshag, Chief Financial Officer.

Pooley will drive the company’s strategic direction and future growth and lead all aspects of the company’s IT development, ensuring that Snow’s information systems deliver efficiency and enable the company through adoption of cutting edge technology.

He will provide the strategy, direction, architecture, standards, guidelines and planning for information systems and technology for Snow Software globally, to ensure efficient and secure operations.

Pooley joins Snow after five years at multinational security company Sophos, where he was Vice President responsible for Global IT infrastructure, providing service to 3300 staff globally and live services to over 100 million endpoints.

Announcing the appointment, Kasshag said, “We are delighted to welcome Alastair to Snow. His skill in delivering strategic direction and his extensive senior management experience will be pivotal as we continue to deliver innovative solutions and services for our customers and partners.”

Pooley comments, “Being a customer of Snow at Sophos, I knew it was the market leader and its reputation within the industry is second to none. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work in a company with such a spirit of collaboration and innovation, and the technical knowledge to back it up. My priority will be accelerating the company’s IT development, ensuring Snow’s information systems provide the foundation for it to maintain its position at the cutting edge of Software Asset Management innovation.”

In a previous post, Raging with the Machine, I talked about the benefits organizations gain through automating processes: doing things better, doing more things and containing costs through continual optimization. In this post, I dig deeper into ‘the doing things better’ part, and specifically how IaaS automation can be designed to systematically uphold security measures.



When a provider puts a service into operation, be it a car-rental facility, mobile-phone repair, or a digital streaming capability, the processes to build and provision the hardware to support the service, and the security measures needed to protect the service, are crucial elements of the overall solution. Building and maintaining the underlying architecture for consumer-facing services requires investment in terms of time, IT expertise and security knowledge. For many providers, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is an ideal hosting solution, as it relieves many architecture headaches; such as aging hardware, the cost of idle machinery and the lack of storage and processing flexibility to cope with peaks in demand.


In my opinion, the challenge IaaS presents is not running a service, but developing it. By providing the means to spin up diverse types of machines, IaaS enables concepts and code to be tested in a way that isn’t economically feasible with on-premise solutions – which in turn enables the organization to develop more interesting, revenue-generating services.


For live services, reliability, availability, performance, security and user experience are crucial success factors. In contrast, during development, the need for infrastructure is temporary and success is measured in the ability to deliver and test an outcome rapidly.


To ensure that devices are correctly provisioned, protecting from the cost and security risks associated with zombie VMs and incorrectly provisioned devices, most organizations entrust the responsibility for IaaS to their IT department, or to a couple of expert individuals. Unfortunately, this approach tends to be costly and inflexible. It is a sure-fire way of promoting shadow IT and one of the root causes of the ever-widening Disruption Gap. Service desks tend to be busy ensuring operations and often lack the bandwidth to deliver specialized infrastructure services.


What’s needed is a secure way to enable development teams to spin up and decommission VMs as and when they need them. But this is not as simple as it might seem. Creating a virtual machine, even via the portal of a top cloud service provider, is a multi-step complex process that requires expertise and detailed information to complete correctly.


For example, the process to spin up a virtual machine using the official AWS guide to Launch a Windows Virtual Machine is described in five steps. Counting the sub-steps, there are 16 decision-making points in total – each one with the potential to expose your system if you lack access to the right information.


Figure 1, illustrates the process to create a VM. I’d like to stress that the complexity is in no way specific to Amazon Web Services (AWS), or any other cloud services provider, building an IT infrastructure requires expertise.


Figure 1: Walking through the steps to create a virtual machine


So, let’s take a closer look at some of those decisions. For me, one of most annoying aspects of this type of decision-making is that there are no rules, answers are often empirical. Which communication protocol, for example, should you choose for your VM? TCP or UDP? Well, it depends. For example, if you are testing a streaming service and you are not concerned with losing a bit of data here and there, but you are concerned with latency, you’ll probably want to go with UDP. However, if the purpose of the virtual machine is to gather user input, then the more data-reliable TCP protocol might be the best option. But, if you are just testing a piece of software, it probably doesn’t matter what communication protocol you choose.


Moving on. What instance type should you choose? Again, it depends. But for this decision alone, there are almost 70 options to choose from. 


And whatever instance type you choose in turn impacts your choice for storage. What type of storage does your virtual machine require and what can the instance type support? Again, it depends on what you are trying to do, SSD is probably the right choice if your application is input/output heavy, or you may need file-system type storage if you want to share information among virtual machines.


And the process continues until you’ve completed all the decision points.


Snow Automation Platform together with the Automation Books for AWS, Azure, and Google Compute Engine (GCE) provide a systematic approach to program the information required at each decision point into a workflow. Workflows can be made available directly to the business teams that need access to infrastructure, and multiple workflows can be configured to cater for different scenarios, such as: basic test, high-performance demos, training and large storage.



But there’s more to be gained from such a systematic approach than freeing up IT resources, ensuring security protocols are upheld and empowering users.


To spin up a machine in a cloud environment, users need some sort of admin credentials. When VMs are instead spun up by a machine rather than an individual, the need to provide individuals with superuser credentials disappears – this information is handled programmatically. An extra check for improved security.


To ensure that the right people in the organization have access to the infrastructure service, role-based control can be implemented, with business users (rather than IT) approving access for newcomers. Role-based access has the double effect of enabling users while ensuring that unauthorized personnel are kept out. An additional check for security, plus one for flexibility and one for cost control.


With a systematic approach to spinning up VMs, automatic logging plays a key role in security and cost management. Automatic logging can track who, when, and for how long resources are being created. Logging may not sound that innovative, but without it there is no means to control your environment.


Imagine, for example, a large VM is running in your estate, costing you a lot of money. Without a log you have no idea who is responsible for it. If the VM is incorrectly configured according to your security protocol, it needs to be updated without impacting business operations. Automatic logging provides instant access to the information needed to take the next step. An extra check for security and one for cost control.


For demo/ event scenarios, VMs may need to be spun up with specialized images. Again, a template can be created once and used by multiple sales personnel who need to focus on demonstrating product capability and not the technical aspects of how to manage VM deployment. An extra check for security, one for compliance, and one for revenue generation. 


Sometimes, customers will allow developers to use their environment data to recreate a bug or test performance issues. It is vital to protect such customer data with appropriate security measures – not least for relationship management but also for GDPR compliance. A secure, customer-data template VM could be created to cover this use case. An extra check for security and one for compliance. 


If you are worried about an attack on your system, revealing programmatically-entered access codes; each workflow can be created with a different system account, so that even if one part of the system is attacked, exposure to your entire cloud infrastructure will not happen.

Several weeks ago I was in discussion with the CIO of one of our customers. Some of his comments made me think. He said to me, “I don’t know where the value is in SAM and the Snow toolset. Whenever I ask my SAM team (and they are an experienced team) a question they can’t give me a straight answer.”


Unfortunately, the second part of that statement is one that is all too familiar. Regardless whether your organisation has had a SAM function for 1 year or 5 years it crops up time and time again. So why is that?


Suppose the CIO asks the SAM team the following seemingly straight forward question; “What is my financial risk exposure for vendor X?”.  The CIO is expecting a black or white answer. However, for the SAM team answering this simple question it means a lot of other questions need to be asked first and lots of data needs to come together.


Questions like:

What products make up the vendor’s portfolio?

Which of these products are installed on our network?

Who is using these products?

Where are they using them from?

Are they full-time employees or contractors?

Do we have visibility of the whole of the network?

How are these products procured?

How are these products packaged?

Do we have a contract?

What are we entitled to use?

What is the entitlement for each product?

What is the compliance metric for each of these products?

Are there maintenance contracts?

Are the software costs OPEX or CAPEX?

Is the CIO expecting to see purchase cost or running cost?

Does the CIO need to see potential audit fine cost?

Do we need to split the risk across the organisation?

What does the organisation look like from an IT or business perspective?


This is to name but a few of the possible questions!


A lot of these questions can be automated and answered by toolsets, however only if the data is accurate. We have all heard of People, Process and Technology. One can’t do without the others. Very true, however I would like to see Data broken out of the Technology piece. If the underlying data is not accurate or incomplete then the People Process and Technology will inevitably fail. The old adage of you don’t know what you don’t know comes to mind.


I notice that more and more of our customers are starting to use SAM data in different parts of their organisations to answer non-SAM related questions. This means augmenting automatically discovered information with additional metadata from other systems, of course this augmented data needs to be accurate as well so identifying the ‘golden’ source of truth is crucial.


The other lesson we can learn from the above questions relates to transparency and clarity. Make sure you have a clear communication plan in place and you know what it is the CIO is actually asking for. What is he/she expecting to see? Have a clear understanding of what is cost to them? If your system is set up to produce apples but your CIO is expecting pears, then you will never satisfy the CIO.


Ultimately, the CIO and any other functions in the business that are consuming your data are your customers and customer satisfaction is based on knowing and fulfilling their expectations.

In Snow License Manager 8.1.0., we released a new pane that shows what Snow refers to as user activity for Microsoft Office 365 subscription plans. Given the customer feedback we have received, it seems we may have over complicated the way we presented this information, so in the upcoming release of Snow License Manager – version 8.2.5 – we have updated the pane so that it provides clear starting points for license reharvesting and subscription plan optimization. This post explains the changes we have made, and how to best use the information provided.


As I mentioned in a previous post Understanding the Office 365 user activity view, the purpose of the user activity view is to identify opportunities for harvesting and optimizing Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions based on the usage information provided by the Office portal for your organization – and that still holds. But, we hope that both the information we have chosen to present and the way it is displayed in the updated version will help you to identify cost saving opportunities more readily.


One of the first changes we made was to the data shown under total users, which as you might expect reflects the total number of unique users assigned with an Office-365 subscription – not the total number of subscriptions.


Changes in terminology

Figure 2: Microsoft Office 365 – Total users for E3 plan


The biggest change, however, is to our terminology, which we have been able to improve by digging deeper into the information provided by the Microsoft portal. We have categorized users into either: no activity or active within the last n number of days, where n = 7, 30, 90, 180, or 365. The definition of no activity remains the same, meaning that a license has been assigned to a user who has never opened any of the applications included in their subscription plan. Note that users that are not linked will show up in a separate list.


We have also modified the definition of activity to mean use of any application within the user’s subscription plan.

The number of days parameter is based on the most recent import of Microsoft Office 365 data. Users shown as active in the last 7 days, means users that have opened at least one of the applications included in their subscription within the 7 days prior to the most recent import. To ensure this information is clear, the timestamp of the most recent data import is shown in the bottom right-hand corner of the main Microsoft Office 365 menu.


What counts as activity?

Figure 3: Microsoft Office 365 – Application Usage


Activity depends on the applications included in the subscription plan. For example, E3 includes Skype for Business, Exchange Online, and the ProPlus Suite, which includes installed versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive for Business, OneNote, Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only). So, those users assigned to an E3 plan, who open any of these applications within the last 7 days (of the most recent data import) will count as active.


Total users - All users

As shown in Figure 1, we have simplified the total users overview tab so that it provides a visual summary of Microsoft Office plans showing the name of the Microsoft Office-365 subscription purchased, how many users have been assigned a license, and a bar-graph representing the activity of these users, grouped into last 7, 30, 90, 180, and 365 days, as well as no activity (shown in gray).

Figure 4:  Activity bar graph


The purpose of this view is to highlight potential starting points for subscription reharvesting and optimization. A well-optimized estate will show most users as active within the last 7-30 days (indicated by the first two bars of the graph – reading left-to-right).


For most volume licensing agreements, a subscription can be reharvested (assigned to another user) after 90 days of assigning it, although there are some exceptions to this rule-of-thumb. The other bars of the activity graph show the potential for reharvesting.  


For subscription plans where activity data is either not available or doesn’t make sense, the Activity column shows Not Applicable N/A. Primarily, this applies to subscriptions that do not include the applications for which usage information is available, such as EMS E3. Exchange online archive can be added to an E3, and PSTN calling, for example, currently tracking information is unavailable.


To reduce the amount of information, content can be filtered on the Active last column. For example, to identify candidates for reharvesting, filtering on More than 365 days ago will show the users that have not used their subscription in over a year.


Total users - Not linked users

For Snow License Manager (SLM) to show information about subscription assignments, what plan users are on, and how much they have used their Office-365 applications, a connection needs to be made between a user’s identity in Office-365 and in SLM. This connection cannot always be made automatically by SLM because of the way the systems involved identify users.


When the connection cannot be made automatically, the user shows up in SLM in the Not linked users list. More details are available in one of my previous posts: What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM.

We have also added links to linked users, so that when you have identified a user who may be a candidate for subscription harvesting or optimization, you can click the link directly to the view for that user, where you can investigate further. As indicated in Figure 2, linked users are identified by their domain\username pair which has the visual appearance of a weblink.


Try it out

To summarize, I would advise you to first ensure that your users are linked, and then just play around with the information, filter it, and get a feeling for user activity and the potential candidates for rehavesting. Start with some of the obvious users, like those who are showing no activity and those who haven’t been active for more than a year. I’d love to hear what you have to say about the new presentation, so please leave a comment below.

New Blog post today:



To ensure the CIO and CFO don’t spend the year tackling massive, unexpected bills for their cloud usage, here are three recommendations to help contain cloud costs. 

2018 Resolutions for cloud cost containment


Read it in full here




Problem space

Snow License Manager 8 saw the introduction of a new feature that enabled licenses to be assigned to specific computers or datacenters. The purpose of this feature is to support the management of complex licensing scenarios, which high-end server software and engineering applications sometimes pose. 

However, while the introduction of this feature solved one issue it created another. In this case, the license assignment feature proved to be cumbersome for environments with large numbers of servers, as manually sifting through the resulting list of computers to assign a license to was prohibitively time-consuming. And so, we created a support function: license assignment search. 

The assignment feature and license assignment search are used when editing a license to assign it to a consumer – in this case, a computer, or a datacenter. Edit a license and then select the Add button under the Assignment Tab. A search field and a number of options are available to refine the search – as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Search options

Unfortunately, the original search function wasn’t smart enough. For example, checking the Show only machines requiring a license box filtered just for the specific version and edition of the application of the license, ruling out additional possibilities enabled through, for example, upgrade and downgrade rights. And the capability to shortlist/filter the list of computers, to show just those machines to which the given license can be assigned was missing.

A smarter version of the license assignment search function was released in Snow License Manager version 8.2.2, and here is the story of what we did and how the new function works.

The investigation 

So, armed with the desired outcome, we needed to build a smart search function that would isolate computers and datacenters to which the available license could be applied. To do this, we first needed to determine the range of application versions to search for that are covered by up/downgrade use rights, and then find all computers and datacenters where this range of application versions is installed. This dataset then needs to be culled based on the options checked by the user.

Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that the steps required to search through the Snow License Manager database and narrow down the results was almost as complicated as performing a compliance calculation – a process that requires a dedicated service running on our server, which in some cases can take some time to complete. So, obviously this was not the right approach for building a useful search function. 

So, after putting our heads together, we turned instead to the data provided by the most recent compliance calculation to give us the information we needed. For each computer connected to the network, compliance calculates the license requirements for every application installed, determining whether it needs a license, and whether it has a license assigned. Paring down the compliance calculation to just the dataset for the application the user wants to assign (plus up/downgrade versions) turned out to be a viable solution to meet the performance requirements of a search.


How does it work now? 

By default, every search now filters the search results to only show the computers or datacenters that include an installation of the application that can be covered by the license you are trying to assign.  

If, for example, downgrade rights are checked for the license, the search results will include the computers and datacenters where an install has been detected, for the version of the license or any version below it.

If upgrade rights are checked for the license, the search results will include the computers and datacenters where an install of higher versions has been detected, up to the highest version your agreement entitles you to – which Snow License Manager determines based on the maintenance period for the license. 

 When Show only machines requiring a license option is checked, the search results will show all computers and datacenters to which you can assign the license and which also require a license (according to the most recent compliance calculation).

But, what if, for some reason, you actually want to search for computers or datacenters that you cannot assign the current license to? You can still do this by checking the Ignore use rights option.

Figure 2: Search options with ignore use rights

Many of our customers have been requesting an enhancement to this search function since we launched Snow License Manager 8, so I sincerely hope the improvements we have made meet expectations. 

Victoria Barber from Gartner Inc. becomes Director, Product Strategy


AUSTIN, USA. January 22, 2018:   Snow Software (Snow), the global leader in Software Asset Management (SAM) and Cloud Spend Management solutions today announced that Victoria Barber, one of the most respected SAM analysts in the world has been appointed Director in its Product Strategy Group.


Barber joins Snow after eight years as a Research Director at Gartner Inc., where she helped countless organizations embrace SAM best practices.  In addition to authoring and contributing to more than 100 research and advice papers, Barber has been a regular speaker at global events. 


Barber joins the company as a Director in the Product Strategy Group which is headed by Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Matt Fisher. 


Fisher said: “We’ve always evangelized that effective IT Asset Management goes beyond technology, and to drive best practice needs a holistic program to also address people and processes. This is where Victoria brings a wealth of expertise and experience that will help our customers better understand how to build effective SAM capabilities on the Snow platform. By establishing close working relationships with customers and partners, she will help ensure that Snow continues to stay ahead of market needs and build solutions that deliver real value.” 


In addition to advising organizations on how to organize and prioritize their Software Asset Management programs, Barber will expand her speaking presence, representing Snow at industry events around the world and provide best practice advice to our customer, partner and prospect community.


Barber added: “Snow has demonstrated its commitment to best-in-class SAM which is evident from its consistent accolades, strong online customer community (Snow Globe), a successful advocacy program and the largest gathering of SAM professionals at its user conferences. I’m incredibly excited about building on this customer commitment and ensuring organizations which choose the Snow platform have all the capabilities in place to fully benefit from this fantastic technology.”

The IT world of 2018 woke up to an unwelcome bang in the form of Meltdown and Spectre – two widespread hardware vulnerabilities. To encapsulate the problem, which security experts have classified as catastrophic, billions of computers and devices are at risk as the vulnerability exposes the data stored in the most protected part of a device’s hardware; the place where passwords, encryption keys, and other credentials are stored.


The ensuing headache for IT managers and security personnel has not been to figure out if the systems they are responsible for are vulnerable – because they are. But to figure out the extent to which the many patches needed to dampen the threat posed by Meltdown and Spectre have been installed.


The backdoor that Meltdown/Spectre opens to would-be attackers is unlike anything the IT security world has previously witnessed. The wannacry ransomware worm, for example, which caused millions of dollars’ worth of downtime in major systems in May 2017, exploited a flaw in an out-of-date version of the Windows operating system – for which Snow released a script to gain insight into the reach of the worm.


By stark contrast, the Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities exploit a performance feature purposely built into hardware design – significantly in Intel processors as well as AMD, ARM, and Apple. With a far greater attack surface than the wannacry worm, Meltdown/Spectre has had vendors scrambling to release patches. 

What we don’t know at this time is:

  • If an attack has been carried out that exploits the Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities
  • How to detect an attack – the vulnerability can be exploited without leaving a trace

What we do know:

  • Vendors are continuing to release software patches to protect against the Meltdown/Spectre threat.
  • Figuring out to what extent your organization has been patched is a complicated time-consuming process.

Rumors abound that the software patches degrade system performance by up to 30%. But I would say, that that’s something organizations need to be prepared to manage, while chip manufacturers return to the design table to address the vulnerability. But it’s going to be many years before all the chips used in the billions of devices across the world have been replaced, if that is even feasible. So, the best solution is to manage the threat.


And that’s where Snow comes in. Just as our software helps to protect your organization from risk in the form of unpaid license fees, shelfware, audit fines, and inaccurate software budgeting, the data provided by our agents will ease management of the risk posed by Meltdown/Spectre.


Assessing the level of risk posed by Meltdown/Spectre to your organization, needs to be addressed on different levels: the hardware, the operating system, and applications. You need to be able to determine what endpoints in your estate are affected based on the processor type they are running, the operating system version, and the level of patching implemented on applications that are affected, like web browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla’s Firefox.


The good news is that Snow agents already extract the hardware, operating system, and browser version information needed to determine the extent of your risk – all packaged in a customized Snow License Manager report called RISK Meltdown/Spectre (as shown in Figure 2). For customers running Windows, we have made an additional script that can be used by our agent, enabling it to automatically detect the patch status of the Windows operating system by running the official script provided by Microsoft, and capture the result as part of the inventory scan. This agent script add-on and the customized Snow License Manager report is available on-demand to our customers using Snow Inventory (3.x and 5.x), Software Recognition Service, and Snow License Manager (8.x). As our products communicate with all inventoried machines over the internet, our solution overcomes the issue of detecting the status of remote machines.


Figure 1: Official assessment script provided by Microsoft:


Figure 2: Customized Meltdown/Spectre Report in Snow License Manager


For more information on how to access the agent script and the customized report, check out the how-to available on the Snow Globe. And if you have any additional questions regarding the report, reach out to our Snow experts, like erik.sarnbrink2 on Snow Globe.

OEM partners can rapidly enrich their solutions with world-class Software Asset Management technologies

Austin, January 17, 2018 – Snow Software (Snow), the global leader in Software Asset Management (SAM) and cloud spend management solutions, today announced the launch of its OEM Program. OEM partners can now rapidly enrich their solutions by leveraging Snow’s world-class asset management technologies. This will enable them to discover, recognize and monitor consumption of commercially-licensable applications running in their customers’ IT estates.


Snow provides OEM partners with a comprehensive, consolidated and normalized view of all enterprise assets across on-premise, cloud and mobile, enabling them to better monetize their products and services, and differentiate from competition. OEMs will be able to integrate Snow’s repository of asset, configuration and risk data to provide additional value with add-ons to their existing offerings. The program goes beyond software optimization and includes OEM components for:


Discovery and Inventory – enabling OEMs to collect comprehensive hardware and software asset data across their customers’ entire IT estates to find every application running regardless of where that application exists (Mobile, Virtual Machines, Cloud, IaaS, DaaS, Endpoint or Server).


Data Normalization – allowing OEMs to normalize asset data with Snow’s community-sourced, professionally-validated, recognition database. This database is built on application and hardware analysis of Snow's 4,500+ customers which will enable them to export raw executables into Snow’s Normalization Service which will cleanse, dedupe, normalize and return the raw data as contextually meaningful application information.


Software Intelligence – helping OEMs to enrich asset data by adding context around software licensing rights, GDPR risk, security and vulnerability by providing them valuable insights around their customers’ security posture, governance, risk and compliance position.


Workflow Automation – supporting OEMs by combining order and workflow management with embedded process automation. By facilitating the transformation of massive numbers of unconnected manual tasks into automated processes, Snow enables OEMs to streamline workflows, improve productivity and increase ROI for their customers.
Snow’s asset management software catalog is the most comprehensive in the world, and it includes more than 515,000 applications, 81,000 vendors, and 1,021,000 SKUs. This catalog of ready-made asset data will enable OEMs to accelerate time to market and eliminate resource-intensive data gathering.


Axel Kling, CEO, Snow Software: “To stay competitive and meet rapidly evolving customer demands, software vendors have to be agile and constantly innovate to deliver greater functionality and value. By providing our OEM partners with access to the world’s most comprehensive asset management software catalog, we provide them with a new opportunity for innovation. Through this collaboration we enrich their offerings by integrating them with our best-of-breed SAM technologies.”


For more information on the program and details of how to join, visit:

This is to notify you of upcoming maintenance to your SUS and SRS services. There will be upcoming maintenance to your software that may require up to three hours of downtime. To minimize this downtime, Snow will be proactively performing maintenance at the times provided below.

In an effort to minimize impact to your application, we are proactively relaunching this instance during the following maintenance windows:



Maintenance 1 - Database Move


08:00-11:00 CET

Maintenance 2 - WebApp Move


08:00-11:00 CET


Service Window

Impacted Systems


Maintenance 1 - Database Move

SUS - Snow Update Service

SRS - Snow Recognition Service

Unable to use SUS and SRS services during maintenance window.

After that everything should be up and running as before.

Maintenance 2 - WebApp Move

SUS - Snow Update Service

SRS - Snow Recognition Service

Unable to use SUS and SRS services during maintenance window.

AND, if you have set up a firewall between your environments

and SUS and/or SRS, you need to open up your firewall for the

new IP address as the IP address will change to: 


It is urgent this maintenance proceeds in order to ensure we can provide continued high quality of service that you have come to expect from Snow. Thank you for your assistance in this effort.





First of all Happy New Year to all. I hope 2018 is going to be a year full of SAM savings and abbreviations.  In this last Alphabet edition I cover the letters from O to Z. I know I will have missed out some acronyms, abbreviations plus new ones are ‘invented’ everyday. Please feel free to add them to the comments.

The Alphabet of SAM Part 1

The Alphabet of SAM Part 2





The Oracle license and Services Agreement (OLSA) is the standard contract, subject only to local country legal requirements, for use across all sales channels, in all countries, and for all customers. The OLSA is a transaction based agreement that is included with every license order and contains the general legal and business terms governing your use of our programs. To fully understand your license granted under the OLSA, you need to review the relevant List of Definitions for the licensing metrics and term designation as well as the licensing rules. link to Oracle website.


Oracle Management Option.  Snow Oracle Management Option is the most effective way to optimize your investment in Oracle databases, reducing the reliance on costly consultants by automating key data collection tasks.

Oracle Management Option enables Oracle administrators and license owners to easily track, manage and optimize the configuration of Oracle databases. With the ability to create on-demand Oracle Server Worksheets, administrators can avoid compliance risks, unnecessary costs and save time.

The solution gives organizations control of their Oracle estate thanks to the ability to collect data and report on all server hardware and configuration, database products and editions, database Options and associated usage, Management Packs and associated usage, feature usage and named users


An Oracle Server Worksheet (OSW), when fully complete, is a spreadsheet which represents a declaration of the Oracle products you have deployed in your network, the license metric applied and the infrastructure you have assigned the licenses too. This spreadsheet is then submitted Oracle License Management Services(LMS) and compared to the products that you have purchase to see if there is a gap in licensing. Depending on which version of the OSW you have been asked to fill, each line represents either a database instance (older format) or a server instances and details of what has been deployed, when, for what, the physical and virtual environment.


Proc is a common term used primarily in game programming to refer to an event triggered under particular circumstances. However in Snow terms it stands for Processor (Central Processing Unit) For certain software application, predominantly Server based, it is the main metric by which compliance is calculated.


Product Use Rights (PUR): A document that contains use rights for licenses acquired through Microsoft Volume Licensing. From now on referred to as Product Terms. The Product Terms contains all the terms and conditions for how you purchase licenses for software and online services through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs. The Product Terms document is updated monthly as a successor to the Product Use Rights and Product List.


A Processor Value Unit (PVU) is a unit of measure used to differentiate licensing of software on distributed processor technologies (defined by Processor Vendor, Brand, Type and Model Number). IBM continues to define a processor, for purposes of PVU-based licensing, to be each processor core on a chip (socket).


Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, which provides a user with a graphical interface to connect to another computer over a network connection. The user employs RDP client software for this purpose, while the other computer must run RDP server software.
Clients exist for most versions of Microsoft Windows (including Windows Mobile), Linux, Unix, macOS, iOS, Android, and other operating systems. RDP servers are built into Windows operating systems; an RDP server for Unix and OS X also exists. By default, the server listens on TCP port 3389[1] and UDP port 3389.[2]
Microsoft currently[when?] refers to their official RDP client software as Remote Desktop Connection, formerly "Terminal Services Client".
Within Snow License Manager any application detected to be ran through an RDP or Terminal Services Session will be prefixed with "TS-". The reasoning for this is that these application will require a different type of license metric(usually number of usr or device connections within a specific time span)


Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) is a Microsoft maintenance program aimed at business users who use Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and other server and desktop applications. The core premise behind SA is to give users the ability to spread payments over several years, while offering "free" upgrades to newer versions during that time period.


Software as a service is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as "on-demand software", and was formerly referred to as "software plus services" by Microsoft. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.


SAP SE is one of the largest vendors of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and related enterprise applications. The company's ERP system enables its customers to run their business processes, including accounting, sales, production, human resources and finance, in an integrated environment.  Snow Optimizer for SAP Software, an SAP-certified application, provides SAP license optimization and management automation in a single integrated console.
Snow Optimizer for SAP® Software enables companies to achieve the transparency and visibility necessary to actively optimize and manage their SAP deployments. SAP licensing is complex, and a lack of insight can result in significant financial and legal liabilities, whether from direct or indirect usage, and paying for assets that are not even utilized.
The solution provides organizations with the insight and intelligence required to ensure SAP licensing is always right-sized to actual needs – both preventing unintended overspend and putting the SAP administration team in the driving seat when it comes to SAP license and contract negotiations.


System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM, also known as ConfigMgr), formerly Systems Management Server (SMS) is a systems management software product developed by Microsoft for managing large groups of computers running Windows NT, Windows Embedded, macOS (OS X), Linux or UNIX, as well as Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS and Android mobile operating systems. Configuration Manager provides remote control, patch management, software distribution, operating system deployment, network access protection and hardware and software inventory.


A software development kit (SDK or devkit) is typically a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar development platform. To enrich applications with advanced functionalities, advertisements, push notifications and more, most app developers implement specific software development kits. In Snow often referred to in rel;ation to vmWare vSphere connector as it is a required component.


Snow Device Manager brings Mobile Device Management (MDM) functionality to the enterprise and adds content and application management making it a full-fledged Enterprise Mobility Management solution (EMM). On top, combined with other Snow solutions, it adds best-in-practice SAM-functionality to handle the costs of mobile apps and hardware.


Service Integration and Management (SIAM) is an approach to managing multiple suppliers of services (business services as well as information technology services) and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organisation. It aims at seamlessly integrating interdependent services from various internal and external service providers into end-to-end services in order to meet business requirements


Snow Integration Connectors. The collective term for Snow Integration Manager connectors. To accelerate the speed of Software Asset Management (SAM) adoption and minimize the disruption associated with implementing a new technology, Snow makes it easy to integrate the SAM platform with existing investments such as autodiscovery tools, IT Asset Management (ITAM) solutions and Service Desks. 


A stock keeping unit (SKU) is a product and service identification code for a store or product, often portrayed as a machine-readable bar code that helps track the item for inventory. In Snow the Manufacturer SKU code can be used to import entitlement information against an application or to find the correct application when entering entitlement manually


Snow License Manager is designed to reduce the risk, cost and complexity associated with software assets and licensing. Thousands of organizations around the world rely on Snow License Manager to help them avoid overspending on software entitlements and cloud resources while ensuring that they are fully compliant with licensing rules.

Snow License Manager is the hub of Snow’s advanced Software Asset Management (SAM) platform – providing a unified view of all the software, cloud and hardware assets, license entitlements and application usage metrics.


Snow Management and Configuration Center. The main console used for the configuration of settings and behaviour of Snow License Manager and Snow Inventory.


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is an Internet standard for electronic mail transmission. First defined by RFC 821 in 1982, it was last updated in 2008 with Extended SMTP additions by RFC 5321, which is the protocol in widespread use today. In SMACC the SMTP server is configured to enable manual and automated reports and alerts sending


The Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) is for service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to license the latest eligible Microsoft software products to provide software services and hosted applications to end customers


SQL, Structured Query Language) is a domain-specific language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS), or for stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS). In comparison to older read/write APIs like ISAM or VSAM, SQL offers two main advantages: first, it introduced the concept of accessing many records with one single command; and second, it eliminates the need to specify how to reach a record, e.g. with or without an index. In Snow's terms SLM uses Microsoft SQL as it main databases.


Snow’s Software Recognition Service takes the legwork and guesswork out of recognizing and understanding what software applications have been installed across the multi-site, multi-platform network. The Software Recognition Service provides Snow License Manager customers with daily updates, supporting automatic recognition, normalization and categorization of more than 513,000* applications from around 80,500* software publishers. (* as of 20 December 2017).


User acceptance testing (UAT) is the last phase of the software testing process. During UAT, actual software users test the software to make sure it can handle required tasks in real-world scenarios, according to specifications. It is recommended to include the Snow Agent in the UAT process so that any new applications being tested are automatically added to the Snow Database for recognition and licensing purposes.


The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a taxonomy of products and services for use in eCommerce. It is a four-level hierarchy coded as an eight-digit number, with an optional fifth level adding two more digits. Snow's recognition service applies the UNSPSC coding to its applications under the application type. this can be used for optimisation and rationalisation of the software estate.


Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) is an authorization strategy that requires each device seeking access to a Windows virtual desktop in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to be licensed.  The goal of Windows Virtual Desktop Access is to simplify licensing requirements in a virtual environment by licensing the devices that seek access to virtual desktops, instead of licensing the virtual desktops themselves.


Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is virtualization technology that hosts a desktop operating system on a centralized server in a data center. VDI is a variation on the client-server computing model, sometimes referred to as server-based computing. The term was coined by VMware.




Kind regards,


In Snow License Manager 8.1.0, we added the Microsoft Office 365 user activity view to the Snow License Manager interface. Given the feedback we have received, it seems the purpose of this page is unclear. In this post, I aim to shed some light on how you can use the data provided by the view to harvest subscriptions and optimize parts of your Office 365 landscape. As a primer on the concepts we have developed to harvest and optimize Office 365 subscriptions, I suggest you read this post first. But if you want to dig in to the product directly, a detailed guide with steps and screen dumps, can be found in an accompanying post, How to use the Office 365 user activity view for subscription harvesting and optimization.


The purpose of the user activity view is to highlight potential opportunities for harvesting and optimizing Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions based on the usage information provided by the Office portal for your organization. For the moment, the view in Snow License Manager shows billable subscriptions – it does not display free-of-charge apps. The view shows all Microsoft subscriptions purchased; unfortunately, however, usage information is not yet available for all plans.

The opportunities for harvesting – reassigning a subscription to another user – and optimizing subscriptions by moving users to cheaper plans are limited by the data available. For the moment, we can track use of Exchange, Skype for Business, or any of the applications in the ProPlus Suite (such as Word and PowerPoint), but this will evolve as we expand and improve the user activity view in upcoming releases.


Harvesting unused subscriptions

The best volume-licensing deals are often based on an up-front annual commitment, and indeed for Office 365 ProPlus, and Enterprise plans E1, E3, and E5, the 12-month obligation is a requirement. And depending on the deal you have with Microsoft, cancelling a subscription before the renewal date may incur early termination fees.


So, what can you do with subscriptions that you are paying for that are not being used? Currently, Microsoft allows an Office 365 subscription to be assigned to another user after 90 days. As a means of filtering candidate subscriptions for harvesting, we created the concept of Active user. Users that have accessed their Office 365 subscription, by say opening Word or Outlook within the past 30 days fall into this category.


Hopefully, most of your users will be active and they can be ignored for the purposes of subscription harvesting.

For inactive users, deeper investigation is needed, so we created some additional user categories, including: no activity, no recent activity, and no recent application activity.


Users who have been assigned with a subscription, but have never opened any of the Office applications we can track are categorized as: no activity. The information displayed on the user activity panel shows the number of users that fall into this category, and by selecting it, more details about who these users are and the number of days since they were assigned a subscription is available – details that can be used as a basis for determining if the subscription can be harvested. Users showing no activity may, for example, have left the company, they might be consultants no longer working for your organization, out of the office on leave, or migrated to another organization. Whatever the reason, these users provide you with a good starting point for subscription harvesting.


The second place to look for potential harvesting candidates is users that fall into the no recent activity category, which identifies users that haven’t opened any tracked applications for more than 30 days. Like the no activity category, additional details about the users and the duration of their inactivity is available as you dig deeper into the view.


Optimizing subscriptions

User behavior changes over time, they stop using applications as their needs change – they use new software and come back from time to time to old favorites. Sometimes, on-boarding processes may assign a subscription plan to users based on their roles rather than need often leading to overspend on some users and missing functionality for others. The enterprise plans offered by Microsoft differ quite significantly in functionality and price – providing many opportunities for optimization, if you know what your users are doing/need.


So, we created the no recent application activity category to pinpoint users who have not used the installed version of the applications included in their Office 365 subscription. An E1 subscription plan, for example, only includes the online version of Office 365 applications as opposed to others, like the E3 plan, which includes full installation of applications on up to 5 machines. By identifying online-only users, you may be able to move users with no recent application activity to cheaper subscription plans.  



If decisions to harvest and optimize were straightforward, I would suggest automating these processes. However, for the moment, the data provided by the user activity view needs to be considered within its limitations. Given that we can only track use of Exchange, Skype for Business, or any of the applications in the ProPlus Suite (such as Word and PowerPoint), users that don’t use these applications will fall into the no recent activity and/or the no recent application activity categories. Most users will of course use at least one of the basic applications, so filtering the remainder shouldn’t prove to be prohibitively time-consuming.


The E5 plan includes PowerBI Pro and Skype for Business PSTN calling features – applications that are not included in the cheaper E3 plan. For the moment, the Office 365 connector does not track these two applications, and so the information provided by Snow License Manager does not yet support E5 to E3 optimizations.


And lastly, users in Snow License Manager need to be linked to their Microsoft Office 365 user accounts to connect usage information to the correct user. I’ve written more about this in another post What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM.


So now it’s time to dig into the product and see where you can optimize and harvest Office 365 subscriptions. As I mentioned, I’ve put together a how-to here:

If you have any additional questions, please ask one here on the Snow Globe or post a comment below.


Tom Sautelle – Product Owner Snow License Manager