An Ottawa software provider is hoping to help IT managers keep better track of the applications in their porfolio with a tool that acts similar to those used to by finance and accounting departments to monitor other purchases.
Inc. said its Licence Management Module would consolidate information about software that was bought at different times or places and reconciling it with what is actually used in the enterprise. It also tracks the version name changes, bug fixes and compliance with ISV licensing programs, including situations when upgrade or downgrade rights apply, the company said.
Steve Duncan, AssetMetrix’s vice-president of marketing, said the Licence Management module includes a software lookup table that includes information on more than 300,000 titles. This list is updated daily by staff dedicated to the task, he said.
Duncan said the challenges around compliances have sent many IT managers in search of tools that would monitor both the expense and income side of software asset purchases and deployments. Though some manual systems exist today, he said, more automation is required.
“They’d have some sort of database or records of purchases that they made from other sources. They might have bought some licences directly from the company, others from a software reseller, but all those records weren’t consolidated, they were in a filing cabinet or a spreadsheet somewhere.”
Some tools, for example, might offer the ability to discover an installation of Microsoft Office, Duncan said, but would not indicate if it was part of an Office suite purchase. “There are a lot of tools that allow you to keep records of the licence you bought, but not what brings them both together and applies intelligence to the data found in the field,” he said.
Ray Wang, an analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research who explores software licensing issues, said many companies might have bought 5,000 seats of a licences at a discount, even though they only employ 3,000 people.
“Once you realize what’s in production, you realize you’ve bought more than what they really need. With the maintenance costs of unused software, it does have a huge impact,” he said.
Forrester is recommending to clients that they include provisions in their contracts with vendors that they can obtain additional licences at a pre-determined costs if and when their organizations grow large enough to need them.
MacroVision is probably the best-known provider of tools to help manage software licenses, according to AMR Research analyst Jim Shephard, but the availability of software has not been the issue.
“It’s surprising how little impact tools have had, given the amount of time people spend trying to manage this and the time they complain about the difficulty,” he said. A bigger problem, he suggested, was getting the go-ahead necessary to introduce more automation around software licensing.
“They can get approval to spend money on tools and application and development for almost every department except their own, and they tend to want to build the stuff themselves,” Shepard said.
Though the Licence Management Module is being added to AssetMetrix’s service for existing customers, Duncan said the company is hoping to attract first-time customers as well.