2 Important Considerations for Successful SAM Planning

Change is tough. Adjusting the way you’ve been tracking IT assets across your business for years is a harrowing process, and one that will certainly get some grumbles from employees. But as you know by now, having a software asset management (SAM) plan is a way to tighten up your licensing budget and catalogue of IT assets. With a holistic approach, your organisation will have an easier go at implementing an effective SAM plan.

1. Executive sponsorship and delineated roles     

As with any project involving a major change to operations, Datacom has found that identifying an executive sponsor and key stakeholders is crucial to the success of your SAM program. These individuals will be the champions of the IT assets management overall, and can help plan the roadmap to change that will be necessary for SAM to be effective. In addition to this overall leadership, your organisation should nominate individuals who can carry out the daily responsibilities needed to initiate and operate a SAM program. These activities will include implementing SAM policy, tracking and recording IT assets and liaising with vendors.

2. Visibility across all IT assets          

Just because the focus in a SAM program is on software doesn’t mean you should forget about the hardware in your organisation. If you’re not managing the hardware lifecycle, you could easily forget about installed software on an old PC sitting in storage. Unused hardware means two things: legacy hardware and new hardware that no one is yet using. Tracking the software sitting on these unused pieces of hardware contributes to your overall catalogue of IT assets and gives you a clearer picture of the various versions of the same software you have running.

When tracking these IT assets, make sure to also consider virtual environments, and create plans for hardware and software retirement planning. If these tasks are beyond the current capacity of your organisation to manage, consider an IT provider that can supply tools and resources to identify, track and manage the lifecycle of these IT  assets.

The top 5 questions to ask for SAM planning

  1. Have you taken an inventory of your current software installations and other IT assets?
  2. Are you centrally managing and purchasing software?
  3. Have you identified the main gaps and areas of risk when it comes to IT assets?
  4. How will you track and optimise your licenses?
  5. Have you determined an approach to SAM in which you will continually renew processes and requirements?

When it Comes to BYOD, Don’t Forget Software Asset Management

Software asset management, or SAM, has largely been the concern of organisations with a majority of employees still using traditional enterprise desktops. Then camethe rise of BYOD and mobile solutions. The mobility trend adds another layer to SAM that your IT department can’t afford to overlook. IT departments must ensure they are still tracking all software, even if it sits on multiple devices, to maintain software licensing compliance and maximise cost savings.

BYOD Risk 1: Over-purchasing software licensing

When it comes to software licensing, your organisation runs the same risks with a BYOD program as it does in the traditional desktop scenario. If left unchecked, employees could be chronically downloading applications onto their devices that they don’t actually use. You can imagine how this BYOD situation makes application “creep” and associated software licensing costs skyrocket.

Handling this BYOD software licensing issue might require a SAM approach with mobile device management incorporated. These tools can give application usage data and also assist with a “reclamation” process in which unused software licenses are taken back, enabling better cost efficiencies for your business. Another solution to reigning in the ropes on mobile software licensing is through establishing an enterprise app store through which your IT department can offer a select set of business productivity tools. This still enables BYOD users to select the apps they want to do their jobs, but prevents duplications of similar software and the IT department from having to manage an infinite number of apps.

BYOD Risk 2: Non-compliance due to tricky BYOD software licensing rules 

By now you’re well-steeped in the controversy surrounding Microsoft’s new licensing scheme for companion devices with the rollout of Windows 8. But the truth is that software licensing for BYOD through any provider can be complicated. BYOD is still a relatively new phenomenon in terms of how it dictates the way in which technology companies will structure their software licensing going forward. In the meantime, these companies are scrambling for a suitable approach to software licensing so that individuals don’t run their products for free. Does your organisation know if it’s required to have a license for an application that an employee accesses through the corporate network on his or her own mobile device? How many copies of each application need to be licensed for each user in a BYOD scenario?

Questions like these would be best put to software asset management and software licensing consultants, who can help determine which licenses you’ll need depending on the devices in your organisation and the applications you want to use. Going forward, these software licensing experts can help your organisations build a software asset management plan in which you look for opportunities to boost business efficiency and save on software costs.

Making the Most of Your IT Budget in an Uncertain Economy

By Lauren Fritsky

Whether you look at the bright side (Australia’s economy posted an annual growth rate of 4.3 per cent) or the bad side (the ASX and dollar are playing tricks on us), economic uncertainty will likely continue to hover as the new financial year dawns. Organisations are still treading lightly, and budgets now face new hurdles such as extra energy costs brought on by the carbon tax.

What’s an IT department to do? Take inventory of your technology and make the right investments to help your organisation grow and save costs in the long-term.

Check what you already have

Simple advice, but how many organisations actually take stock of software and hardware sitting idle that they could be using or that they no longer need? Conducting a software asset management programme can help organisations get a better handle on software needs. You likely have multiple versions of the same software at your organisation, which could be increasing costs and adding a support burden to the IT department. A SAM programme also helps you track software licensing investments to ensure they are cost-efficient. On the hardware front, there could be buy-back and trade-in options for hardware and special savings through your vendors over the course of the year.

Streamline your outsourcing

Outsourcing certain IT functions can save your organisation up to 30 per cent and allow greater flexibility during peak and off-peak times. Opting for a pay-as-you-go model and amenable contract ensures you can match the level of service to your budget and business needs; there’s no need to commit to a year-long agreement that you might no longer need three months in.

Choosing one provider that supplies a variety of services such as help desk support can help streamline the IT environment and offer lower costs than might be accomplished through using multiple providers. One government agency in New Zealand was able to achieve significant cost savings by reducing the amount of IT partners to one provider that could supply a pay-as-you-go model, which allowed the organisation to ramp up during times of peak demand. Cutting the IT fat also enabled the agency to gain better consistency in IT operations and avoid duplicating certain functions.

Clear up extra costs with server consolidation and cloud

Gartner found that 60 per cent of the Australian IT budget goes toward operations and infrastructure. Consolidating servers is one way to cut down this spending by as much as 20 per cent; cloud is another. Organisations can diminish infrastructure costs and increase efficiency of operations through cloud investment. Research has shown businesses can save up to 25 per cent on IT costs over the first three years by outsourcing data storage, critical business applications and email to the cloud. Businesses facing heat from the carbon tax can also decrease their footprint by 30 to 90 per cent using cloud for business applications thanks to the drop in data centre heating and cooling costs and reduced hardware use.

Opting for a cloud services provider with pay-as-you-go models, flexible contracts and colocation services allows businesses to slowly transition into the cloud while retaining the ability to scale up or down and shorten or extend their agreement depending on fluctuating business needs.

How is your IT department saving money?

Get the Star Treatment with a Volume License Enterprise Agreement

By Lauren Fritsky

Does your organisation have more than 250 computing devices, whether they are traditional desktop computers, thin clients or mobile devices? Are you considering transitioning to cloud in the near future? Do you need help managing other aspects of your IT environment?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, the Microsoft volume licensing Enterprise Agreement might provide the most beneficialvolume license to your enterprise.

Organisations that choose an Enterprise Agreement for their software licensing get purchasing discounts in addition to star treatment in the form of immediate software upgrades when new versions, such as Windows 8, are released, 24-hour technical support and access to other services such as desktop support that could benefit their overall IT strategy.

Obtaining a volume license through a Microsoft volume licensing Enterprise Agreement can solve the problem of having individual desktops with different software licensing, which could lead to compliance issues. The Enterprise Agreement streamlines and simplifies IT management by offering a single company-wide agreement. Your organisation might have 300 PCs, but this volume license allows you to manage them as one.

Datacom has also found in its experience that certain organisations can save up to 40 per cent compared to other licensing arrangements through an Enterprise Agreement. Plus, these enterprises gain access to a full range of Software Assurance benefits, which include immediate software upgrades and releases, user training and technical support. If you obtain your agreement through Datacom, you can also potentially gain access to our desktop deploymentdesktop support and software asset management services. Additionally, you can transition to cloud and shift employees between onsite software and cloud under your Enterprise Agreement.

If your organisation started out with an Open Value agreement and is ready to grow past 250 desktops, Datacom’s licensing experts can help you make the transition to an Enterprise Agreement.

4 Reasons to Do Desktop Virtualisation Now

By Julian Buckley

Good on you if you’ve already virtualised your servers. But you’re missing out on immediate manageability benefits and key long-term cost savings by not virtualising your desktop too – something CIOs still shy away from due to cost and implementation concerns, according to an article on CRN. Going that extra step in IT virtualisation to manage your desktops from a central location will bring quick improvements in four key areas.

Mobility leads to productivity

Think of how productive your staff could be if you could immediately let them work from the road or at home. IT virtualisation lets employees connect to the desktop from anywhere and any portable device. Allowing staff to use mobile applications to manage email, projects and tasks increased productivity by 45 per cent at enterprise businesses surveyed by research firm Aberdeen. Virtualisation can let you quickly deploy desktops and applications to overseas or remote workers and allows employees to work from home during a natural disaster or other major event.

Energy savings

Want to cut next month’s energy bill? Desktop virtualisation brings many of the same energy-saving benefits of server virtualisation. One of the main ways you can help the environment through a desktop virtualisation deployment is by replacing clunky, high-power PCs with lower-energy machines.

Streamlined security

Imagine being able to quickly and efficiently identify and solve security issues on any machine. IT virtualisation of the desktop lets you do this. In fact, more than half of CIOs surveyed by Citrix said immediate isolation of a compromised application was a top security benefit realised by virtualising the desktop. Secure data and application delivery was an additional reason for deploying desktop virtualisation, according to 66 per cent of CIOs surveyed.

Through IT virtualisation for the desktop, you can maintain control over data, applications and devices from one place without temporarily reducing end-user access to these areas. Virtualised desktops also allow you to issue security updates and patches to all systems from one location, giving you instant time savings.

Better compliance

Imagine how much time your IT staff can save by removing the hassle of checking each individual employee’s machine to ensure he or she is complying with security, search and usage guidelines. Virtualising the desktop allows you to immediately start monitoring employee behaviour from a central platform. Managing the desktop from this unified location also allows IT staff to ensure volume license compliance across all desktops and improves Software Asset Management by allowing faster software inventory.

As a company that supplies managed IT virtualisation services to enterprise businesses, Datacom has seen this solution help companies reduce operational expenditures and cut the time it takes to conduct certain IT tasks from weeks to minutes.

Julian Buckley is the Business Manager of Professional Services for Datacom in QLD.  Julian leads a team of solution architects, project managers and consulting engineers that evangelise, design, scope, deliver and implement purpose-built, client-focused infrastructure and virtualisation solutions for our customers. His team in QLD focuses on long-term relationships with clients, building end-to-end enterprise ICT architecture for corporate, education and government clients across Microsoft, Citrix and VMware technology sets.  A local leader in virtualisation in the QLD market, Julian’s team can help all clients achieve greater return on investment, reliability and performance through best practice, industry-leading solutions.

Are You Merging Your Business? Check Your Software Asset Management

By Tracy Toth

There is a lot that needs to get done following a merger or acquisition and, unfortunately, software license management usually doesn’t rank high on the to-do list.

But ignoring software assets post-merger is a mistake — software facilitates workforce productivity and the failure to properly manage software assets can bring productivity to a grinding halt, jeopardising the organisation’s ability to achieve targeted goals and business objectives.

At Datacom, we regularly guide enterprise organisations through the process of addressing software assets post-merger. In our experience, there are at least five software asset management tasks that need to be performed immediately following a merger or acquisition:

  • Software Audit. Right out of the gate, the organisation should perform a comprehensive software audit. By auditing the enterprise’s current software, licenses and related assets, the organisation gains visibility into the existing enterprise software environment and sets the stage for an informed strategy development process.
  • Policy Review. A comprehensive software policy review should be another post-merger priority. Whether the organisation realises it or not, there are likely discrepancies in the way software assets are being utilised in the two organisations. If those discrepancies aren’t resolved, it could result in internal confusion, productivity losses and other negative outcomes.
  • Role Review. In addition to reviewing the organisation’s software asset policies, it’s important to review the roles and responsibilities that are connected to software asset management across the enterprise. In some cases, it will be necessary to assign individuals to fill gaps in coverage; in others instances, it may be helpful to combine redundant roles in order to create a more efficient SAM system.
  • SAM Assessment. It is absolutely imperative for the organisation to perform a full-blown SAM assessment post-merger. Assumptions that existed when the organisations operated independently may no longer apply and it’s likely that the merger will create opportunities for additional software-related efficiencies, which can be accessed by evaluating and adjusting the organisation’s SAM plan.
  • Desktop Support. Finally, ongoing desktop support must be delivered without interruption. While it can make sense to rationalise and consolidate the help desks, the initial priority must be on ensuring that all workers are able to productively contribute to the business via their hardware and software assets. Moving too soon on desktop support consolidation, without a well-structured plan, is not advised.

Software Deployment Best Practices

By Tracy Toth

Enterprise-wide software deployments are important milestones in the life of growing organisations. Whether the company is facing the deployment of a Microsoft volume licensed solution or the enterprise-wide implementation of another software solution, it’s imperative that the deployment occur on time, on budget and in a manner that optimises the return to the organisation.

In enterprise organisations, successful software deployments are typically grounded in a handful of best practices:

  • Strategy Development. Effective software deployments hinge on sound strategy, including the development of a robust Software Asset Management (SAM) plan. If it’s done right, SAM has the ability to optimise the organisation’s software investments and create a solid foundation for a more intentional deployment process.
  • Process Clarity. Many organisations prioritise the development of a deployment strategy, but then fail to communicate the details of the process to stakeholders across the enterprise. The best enterprise deployments priority organisational clarity in the roles, responsibilities, procedures and intended outcomes associated with the deployment.
  • User Engagement. The ultimate gauge of success for any software deployment is its value to end-users. Consequently, effective deployment processes look beyond the mechanical aspects of the deployments and target user engagement through end-user training, help desk support and other features.
  • Asset Retirement Planning. First-rate software deployments address the full lifecycle of software assets, including software retirement planning. Organisations that don’t pay sufficient attention to the redeployment, transfer or disposal of deployed solutions eventually suffer from cost inefficiencies and other endgame snafus.

Finally, collaboration with a qualified software deployment consultant can also be an essential best practice in enterprise organisations. Datacom consultants are available to help your organisation master the deployment of Microsoft volume licensed solutions and other software assets that are integral to your enterprise.

Software Asset Management Roles and Responsibilities

By Tracy Toth

Software Asset Management (SAM) optimises the value of Microsoft volume licensing and other software deployments in complex, enterprise-level organisations.

Yet many SAM plans fall short of delivering desired outcomes because internal stakeholders focus exclusively on the technology and fail to discern the roles and responsibilities associated with a robust SAM strategy.

In general, SAM roles and responsibilities can be broken down into two broad categories: (1) The role of the SAM owner, and (2) Local roles and responsibilities.

The SAM owner, or the individual(s) responsible for the governance of software and related assets across the enterprise, plays a pivotal role in the development of the organisation’s SAM plan and the deployment of the resources that will be necessary to ensure its execution.

As high-level stakeholders, SAM owners shoulder the final responsibility for the MS volume licensing compliance, the achievement of targeted software asset management outcomes and seamless SAM coverage across the enterprise.

Local SAM owners and stakeholders, on the other hand, play a more granular role in the software management process. Typically, these individuals are responsible for documenting software assets and assigning management activities to specific individuals in the organisation.

In most enterprises, local SAM stakeholders are also responsible for the implementation of SAM policies and procedures, the management of vendors, contracts and internal customer relationships, MS licensing needs assessments, and other essential software management functions.

In our experience at Datacom, effective software asset management boils down to planning and strategy. By carefully delineating SAM roles and responsibilities, and communicating them clearly across the enterprise, you can lay the foundation for optimised software deployments and SAM success in your organisation.

How Software Asset Management Gives Companies a Competitive Edge

By Tracy Toth

Software is a key competitive element in complex, enterprise organisations. Highly optimised software assets equip the enterprise with the resources and efficiencies it needs to compete in the global marketplace, while poorly managed software programmes limit the organisation’s ability to adapt to changing conditions and competitive pressures.

Software asset management (SAM) methodologies inevitably enhance the enterprise’s ability to compete by providing information that is critical for timely decision-making. Leveraging a strong SAM programme,Microsoft volume licensing and related software decisions can be made more rapidly and with better information than the competition, allowing the organisation to exploit opportunities in the marketplace.

SAM also allows enterprise organisations to achieve a scalable approach to MS software deployments. Since software is closely matched to the enterprise’s actual business needs, deployments are more efficient — but increased software capacity and functionality can be quickly achieved should the enterprise find itself poised for rapid growth or expansion.

In enterprise-level organisations, mergers and acquisitions are part of a normal growth process. But in many cases, mergers frustrate the organisation’s ability to compete in the short-term due to IT and software challenges. Software asset management enhances the organisation’s ability to compete by targeting software-related challenges and helping the organisation make better use of its existing software assets.

Finally, organisations that leverage SAM methodologies and technologies are better able to compete because personnel are focused on business activities. Rather than wasting their time on Microsoft licensing issues or IT snafus, workers can dedicate their time to core competencies and functions that generate additional revenue for the organisation.

Tap Into the Power of Software Deployment Consultants

By Tracy Toth

Software deployments that exclusively leverage internal IT stakeholders are viable in small organisations. But as the organisation grows, the issues and challenges become more complicated — and the need to tap into the power of an external software deployment consultant comes into much sharper focus.

At Datacom, we specialise in helping enterprise organisations maximise the value of Microsoft volume licensing and other software asset management tasks. We’ve seen firsthand how the use of external software consultants can free up internal IT resources for value-added tasks.

But more importantly, we’ve discovered that our experience with a range of companies helps our clients avoid implementation delays and other missteps that have a real dollar cost to the enterprise.

For example, in many cases, consultants offer software deployment automation software and ancillary services (e.g. help desk support or end-user training) that streamline the process and generate efficiencies in the implementation of enterprise solutions. A server virtualisation programme can also be a smart move because it allows new systems to be deployed with reduced hardware costs.

Every organisation is different. One may be wrestling with delivering core infrastructure support services across distinct business groups. Another may have a more technical priority, such as moving key software assets to a cloud-computing platform. Still others may simply be in an exploratory mode — wondering how their software deployment and software asset management infrastructure can be improved upon. By working with a large and experienced software deployment consultant, enterprises can ensure that their needs are met.

With good software deployment consultants on the project, the work will get done and internal resources become more productive. Leveraging a combination of expertise and resources, consultants ensure that deployments stay on schedule and on budget — critical objectives for organisations that are depending on a software deployment to achieve targeted business goals or growth objectives.

Finally, enterprises purchase software to increase organisational productivity. If the deployment of the software acquisition is bungled, it has an adverse effect on ROI and can unleash a cascading set of problems on the organisation. By utilising a software and desktop deployment consultant, the organisation gains the ability to maximise both ROI and the outcomes generated by the solution across the enterprise.

If your information technology assets are spiraling out of control, or if you think there’s room for improvement, it’s a good idea to have an initial conversation with a third-party consultant to see what ideas they might have on how you can take things to a higher level.