Managing Software Licensing with Multiple Inventory Tools
Organizations often struggle to achieve efficient management of their software assets when there is a need for multiple discoveries and inventory tools in their organization. Knowing what software is installed on an organizations network is important to accurately evaluate software compliance and expenditure. However the inventory of installed software often comes from configuration management tools which are primarily purchased for other operational IT activities, for example, many organizations use Microsoft SCCM primarily for application deployment. Using SCCM as a source of inventory data for license management is typically a secondary afterthought.
In larger organizations, especially those operating on a multinational scale, inventory tools may differ per department or division, or there could be multiple instances of the same tool. However, this issue isn’t isolated to large enterprises. It is not uncommon for our customers in the education sector to have multiple sources of software inventory data. For example, they may use SCCM to manage server and desktop configurations, LANSweeper for SNMP discovery of network devices such as printers and the G Suite Chromebook Management console for student Chromebook configuration. Needless to say, there is a reluctance to install yet another discovery and inventory tool when embarking on a software asset management project.
As discussed configuration management and discovery tools can provide installation data that is useful for software asset management. Organizations that use multiple solutions may have to manually consolidate and cross-reference the report and exports from multiple solutions. Multiple sources of entitlement data further add to the complexity of software asset management. The task of manual consolidation and cross-referencing is not trivial as the data is often presented inconsistently between solutions. For instance, tools may identify Microsoft SQL Server as MS SQL Server or Microsoft SQL Server 2017, or not clearly identify the Express version which has different licensing implicants; this can cause confusion and result in incorrect cost calculations.
Centralization and normalization are key to management of inventory lists from multiple tools.
Having a centralized solution can minimize the time spent going over multiple lists produced by multiple tools. The integrity of the data is maintained with a centralized solution. With maintaining databases, the cardinal rule of database design is to eliminate redundancy. Using multiple tools increases the possibility of repeating of asset information across the organization, which can lead to consequences when calculating software expenditures, or simply result in a higher workload when it comes to consolidating information. Additionally, a broad range of reporting can be compiled from a centralized solution, as multiple departments assets can be compiled in one location, allowing for a comprehensive look at the software usage across the organization.
It is important that the details concerning installed software such as edition, version, publisher, and title are consistent so that information can be used reliably for license management. A software asset and license management solution refines data after it has been identified, or in other words, normalizes the data. After normalization raw inventory data is transformed into actionable information. This makes the data optimal for efficient reporting of software compliance and expenditure.
Software asset and license management tools can perform a large amount of heavy lifting reducing the time spent in centralizing and normalizing data that is obtained from multiple sources. Look for a license management tool that can integrate with multiple inventories and discovery tools and will comprehensively compile the data into a single central and normalized repository. This will eliminate the need for manual consolidation and cross-reference. In doing so it will dramatically reduce the time required to produce the reports you need for efficient software and license management.