“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”
That was said by the French statesman and general Charles de Gaulle who was exasperated at trying to lead a nation brimming with so much determined individuality. Oddly, it is a sentiment that could be shared by the folks at any large organization’s IT department. In their version it would read more like, “How do you manage an IT infrastructure which has tens of thousands of different machines?”
In many cases, these are a diverse set of endpoints including mobile devices used by individuals who hardly think twice at installing some new piece of software. In those instances, how is a manager even supposed to know where the devices are? Even once they are located, how does he or she find out what software is on it and whether or not it is up to date?
The issue of software asset management (SAM) is a critical one that organizations have been struggling with for almost as long as there have been computers. Unless addressed properly it poses direct financial and security risks to the entire company.
According to a study by Ernst & Young, software licenses currently account for about 20 percent of typical IT costs. Not knowing the status of your company’s software puts you in danger of possible vendor fines for being out of compliance with their license agreement. As the study notes, “While settlements of vendor audits are normally confidential, vendor audit activity has been increasing. There have been settlements in many cases in multiples of millions of Euros per vendor for unlicensed application. A recent Gartner report indicates that more than 50 percent of their clients polled have been audited by at least one software vendor in the last 12 months.”
It also means you may be spending more than you need to because of license “overbuying.”
Additionally, if software is inadequately licensed it may mean some devices are running counterfeit and/or unauthorized software. Bogus software is a very popular among criminals as a way to deliver malicious code and programs into a system.
For the most part, companies have had to do SAM manually. Doing that well has meant having people whose only jobs are monitoring license compliance or adding that responsibility to already existing positions. Either way it has also meant that compliance checks are only done periodically, putting the company at risk for the entire time between checks. There’s also the difficulty of getting users to cooperate with the process. Let’s face it: in a world where just getting people to use something other than “1234” as their password is a challenge, it would practically require a miracle to make them care about software licensing issues.
So the best way to deal with SAM is by automating it and making it something very few people even have to think about. IBM’s Endpoint Manager can oversee assets on hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Windows, UNIX and Linux endpoints. It runs continuously so there is no lag time between audits and can check devices whenever they are on the network, avoiding the problem of having to arrange specific times for devices to be checked.
Furthermore, its Software Identification Catalog has information on 5,000 publishers, 5,000 software products and more than 105,000 application signatures all of which simplifies asset identification and support. It also makes it easier to monitor software license consumption, which lets you base your software budget on actual inventory and usage trends.
Finally, it does all of this through one console so it decreases peoples’ workload. And it does it quickly. IBM Endpoint Manager can be installed throughout the entire enterprise in hours instead of weeks or months.
Charles de Gaulle wished for a solution like this to help him manage the vibrant diversity he sought to govern. The great news is today as an IT manager, you have one.