Softchoice Corporation

Provide a brief description of the Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative?

Softchoice Axis is an online IT Asset Management repository designed to aggregate a variety of data required to support the IT decision making process. Axis uses web-based technology to present inventory data in an accurate, easily digestible format. The goal is to deliver information that addresses a range of IT business issues – from security and licensing gap analysis, to lifecycle planning, warranty coverage, internal policy compliance and more. Axis is platform agnostic; it supports the import of inventory data from over 40 different discovery technologies (including Microsoft SCCM, LANdesk, Altiris, etc). For customers lacking an inventory collection tool, Softchoice provides its own proprietary technology PiNG, to facilitate the process. Axis’ ability to aggregate data from a variety of sources is what sets it apart from the average inventory tool. Beyond physical inventory data, Axis aggregates information such as product support roadmaps, maintenance/warranty status information, and security feeds to give organizations a holistic view of their environment. It even allows users to benchmark aspects of their environment against industry norms to understand where they sit in relation. When combined with consultations with Softchoice IT Asset Management (ITAM) Consultants, Axis becomes the foundation for a comprehensive ITAM strategy centered on maximizing investments and saving money and reducing risk. An accurate inventory is only one piece of the puzzle. Through Axis, customers can gain actionable insights into the following areas: • How their preparedness compares to known security threats / vulnerabilities • Support technology roadmapping and how the introduction of new technologies will affect their organization in terms of cost and potential compatibility issues • Whether their equipment is in or out of warranty and where it resides • How their installations line up with respect to their entitlements • Whether users are violating internal IT policies based on 8 different, configurable criteria (such as missing anti-virus, blacklisted titles, non-standard OS and office software, etc) • Which software installations represent commercial products, and which can be ignored.

Describe what makes this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative original or innovative.How is this over and above the accepted norm?

By and large, ITAM solutions in the marketplace focus on inventory, and specifically, inventory of notebooks, desktops, and in some cases, servers. Axis goes far beyond merely inventory a given environment. In addition to providing benchmarks and industry norms with which organizations can compare their current state, Axis helps identify gaps or areas of potential concern thereby turning ‘data’ into ‘actionable information’. Axis also corrects many issues present in today’s ITAM tools: • Axis uses algorithms such as our ‘DuperScooper’ technology not available in any other IT Asset Management platform. We use our years of licensing experience to automate the factoring in of rules such as Microsoft’s downgrade rights and the removal of duplicate installations thereby ensuring pinpoint accuracy with respect to license compliance auditing. This ensures not a single dollar is wasted. • Axis handles problematic titles such as SQL Server using specialized, targeted reporting designed to address the specific issues with fingerprinting SQL installations – one of Microsoft’s costliest products and therefore a big area of potential cost-savings for organizations! • Axis’ categorization library allows us to help customers set a realistic scope for the asset management initiatives. We currently have a library of over 30,000 categorized titles that allow customers to not just look at what’s installed, but to understand whether it is something they need to monitor from a license compliance standpoint, whether its freeware or a driver, what the software does from a functional standpoint, and the name of the manufacturer. • Axis also collects and presents aggregate data that allows Softchoice to identify and comment on important industry trends, serving a valuable marketing function for our organization. For example, we published two studies in the last year using this data: 1) our Windows 7 Readiness Report which found that close to 90% of today’s corporate computers could seamlessly support the OS and 2) our July, 2010 study finding that 45% of computers were still running Windows XP Service Pack 2, which has been retired and is no longer supported. These reports generated significant media coverage and have served to bolster Softchoice’s image as a thought leader in the industry. (view reports:

Describe the improvement this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative made to the customer’s sales or revenues. What changed?

• Axis is designed to provide tangible business value – from the moment it is used. A telling example is the experience of a large Canadian food services company with roughly 12,000 PCs. By leveraging Axis, we were able to remove thousands of duplicate licensing installations that would have been miscounted otherwise. This ensured a compliant environment while generating significant savings for the customer. The project also uncovered additional sales opportunities for Softchoice in the process. • Project Highlights: Inventory Technology: Imported Microsoft SMS/SCCM data into Axis for most divisions and used Softchoice PiNG to inventory a ‘rogue’ division without SCCM o Uncovered over-licensing across 3 divisions. By buying and selling licenses between the 4 companies the company saved over $300,000. o Uncovered a substantial increase in SQL Server installations which was unknown to the parties involved. Through the True Up process we realized $800,000 in incremental revenues. o Uncovered a better way to license the customer’s development environment which had been administered by outside consultants saving $300,000 in Visual Studio license fees. o Uncovered an additional 600 Net New Devices that were unknown to the customer delivering incremental revue of $600,000. • Another example involves one of Canada’s largest financial institutions. Using Axis, we were able to identify $1.47 *million* dollars in savings due to the simple miscounting of Adobe Acrobat installations – a problem addressed by our DuperScooper algorithms. These types of findings are part of our day-to-day and speak to our overarching philosophy of helping customers avoid costs through increased accuracy in inventory reporting, and the removal of painful, manual processes through the technology offered within our Axis portal.

Describe the improvement this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative made to the customer’s efficiency. What changed?

In many customer environments, gauging Software License Compliance is a painful activity that can absorb significant amounts of IT time and resources. Using the automated algorithms contained within Axis for data scrubbing, Softchoice can help customers complete a comprehensive audit within days. For many organizations, especially larger enterprises, this process regularly takes a period of months and even with this time commitment, the final reporting is often inaccurate. This is due to the fact that several of the functions carried out automatically by Axis and our ITAM consulting services are typically conducted manually by customers. Thanks to this functionality we have introduced significant efficiencies in our customers’ ITAM and software asset management processes.

How did this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative improve the customer’s ability to serve its internal and/or external clients?

• These offerings are founded on the belief that it is the design of the ITAM process itself that is the most important factor in delivering measurable, long-term business value. • To lay the foundation for an effective process, ITAM-as-a-Service combines access to expert consultative services with a centralized repository (Axis) to help gather, analyze and present ITAM data. The result? More time available for organizations to engineer and action the right decisions that maximize investments, save money and reduce risk. • Softchoice’s ITAM-as-a-Service, delivered via Axis, offers a flexible and cost-effective way to offload the majority of the cumbersome, detail oriented activities required to support an effective IT asset management strategy.

In what ways does this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?

To recap, Axis goes above and beyond industry norms and expectations for the following reasons: • Rather than simply collected data, Axis’ value is turning raw inventory data into information that can be used to drive the IT planning and decision-making process. • Axis is the only web-based solution of its kind that allows organizations to compare the state of their current environment against benchmarks and industry norms. • Axis uses algorithms such as our ‘DuperScooper’ technology not available in any other IT Asset Management platform. We use our years of licensing experience to automate the factoring in of rules such as Microsoft’s downgrade rights and the removal of duplicate installations thereby ensuring pinpoint accuracy with respect to license compliance auditing. • Combined with direct consultations with Softchoice ITAM consultants, Axis saves hundreds of IT resource hours while maximizing investments, saving money and risk. • Axis has saved some of Canada’s largest organizations tens of thousands of dollars in software licensing expenditures. This is beyond the harder to quantify savings associated with reduced risk and diverting resources away from other important IT tasks.

How does this solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

Axis has a substantial impact on environmentally responsible computing. By providing detailed, inventory information, Axis is a powerful tool in optimizing the lifecycle of hardware and networking assets. Most notably, by leveraging data feeds from EPEAT and ENERGY STAR, customers can also compare their current assets with best in class green computing standards. This allows them to create a roadmap they can follow simply by replacing less efficient equipment that has reached the end of its useful life with the latest in eco-friendly computing technologies.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Previous article
Next article

Featured Story

How the CTO can Maintain Cloud Momentum Across the Enterprise

Embracing cloud is easy for some individuals. But embedding widespread cloud adoption at the enterprise level is...

Related Tech News

Get ITBusiness Delivered

Our experienced team of journalists brings you engaging content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured Tech Jobs