- Aug 10, 2017
- Hirsa Navid
Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB): Laying Track for SAM Success
A railway is a good metaphor for the modern IT environment. Much like an IT environment, a railway system is a vast network of interconnecting hubs and stations of different sizes, each with its own unique customers, tasks, goals, needs, and personality. Lines and stations develop over time, making it hard to see how everything fits together. Though it’s decentralized, a railway must still coordinate to transport goods and travelers as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In such a complex system, making the trains run on time is a daunting challenge, but one which the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) meets exceptionally well. Despite its size – the transportation and logistics provider has around 40,000 employees – 96% of its services run on time.
Running the Software Asset Management “train” on time
When the ÖBB went looking for a Software Asset Management (SAM) system, our group demanded the same level of flexibility and efficiency that we provide every day to our customers. After vetting several SAM solutions, ÖBB found that Aspera SmartTrack combined the flexibility and expertise to meet our individual needs and to best negotiate our heterogeneous organizational structures.
These were the main challenges, which ÖBB solved by implementing a strategic Software License Management solution:
- An IT infrastructure with:
- heterogeneous and complex landscapes
- many legacy applications with older versions
- in-house developments and customized software
- A large number of assets
- A complex and constantly changing organizational structure
- In-house IT operations distributed over various data centers
- Transitioning to automated SAM processes
- Increasing the understanding that licenses are valuable assets
Organizations tend to be shaped by immediate needs and challenges. So, the IT structure can become complex, making it hard to get a clear picture of how everything fits together.
This also results in problems with stakeholder engagement. Individual IT managers across a decentralized and active company simply can’t see the problem. Professional SAM means seeing licenses as assets and understanding how Software Asset Management processes can save them time, money, and effort across the organization.
Successful SAM demands enthusiasm
So, to meet these challenges, we need more than just software! Software Asset Management solutions have to engage every level, designing new organizational strategies, new tools and techniques for capturing and storing license information, and enlisting stakeholders support. And that’s just what the ÖBB did.
The ÖBB developed a strategy to meet the following goals quickly and efficiently:
- Establish a centralized software license management system throughout the whole company
- Define roles, responsibilities, and standardized processes for a successful SAM program
- Implement a Software Asset Management system for both client and server sectors
- Create and ensure compliance in a highly heterogeneous setting
In the end, the ÖBB was able to lower their IT costs significantly.
Software License Management means streamlined workflows
The SAM project started in 2014 with collecting information about the hundreds of software products and license agreements. Because we had to build the infrastructure first, data needed to be gathered manually, proving to be resource-intensive task. Yet this also gave us the opportunity to enlist IT colleagues from a variety of departments, integrating them into the process as “license coordinators” and “application owners”.
Starting with the Microsoft licenses, the next step was to gather the information from all of the different IT domains into an Active Directory, but even this was not without its difficulties. There were problems with recognizing interfaces and signatures, problems reading Citrix and server data, and relational issues in assigning virtual and physical hosts.
Use your power, use your data
Once one set of license data was finished, an iterative process was established and applied to Adobe products, and Oracle data, successfully importing it all into Aspera SmartTrack. The ÖBB now has quick access to the latest data, putting them on a level playing field in negotiations with software producers, lowering their internal audit expenses, and helping them to gear master agreements to actual use. This guarantees compliance, and grants ÖBB more flexibility in its IT environment.
This project was a huge team effort and a true success story, and it shows. For this challenging project, we were proud to have been honored as a winner of the prestigious SAMS Europe Award in 2016.