Apr 25, 2018

Between Heaven and Hell: Solving the License Puzzle in the Cloud

Subscribing to a cloud-based software service seems like license management heaven. Finally, an easy to manage, intuitive and user-friendly approach to compliance. Pay as you go for what you need and spare yourself from costly audits. It couldn’t be easier, and you don’t have to do Software Asset Management anymore.

But, as the old saying goes: there are horrid, monstrous, fire-breathing devils in the data, waiting to lay waste to your cost saving plans and dreams of a new focus for your office.

Or something like that.

Without a comprehensive overview of your environment and your computing needs, you could end up paying significantly more than you need for your cloud services. This is why a cloud software asset management strategy can only be measured from information derived from a foundation of clean, accurate data, only when you have your “rule book” and the measurements can you determine the effectiveness of your cloud cost management.

Know where your software data is coming from

Just like the introduction of on-premises virtualisation where many vendors changed their “usage rights”, the cloud offered vendors to change the rules again. Some changed the “unit of measurement”, some changed the “core factors”, others haven’t made a decision. Some generous vendors gave us dual usage rights, which means that you can licence software for both cloud and on-premises use. Yep, that’s right, both! Therefore it is critical to know whether your data is coming from either a traditional on-premise datacentre or the cloud.

With dual usage, pure discovery data just doesn’t cut the mustard and neither do tools that cannot layer data and merge datasets together to determine “Software Installed on a Cloud Instance” vs “the same software installed on an on-premises instance”. You might think you have three installations and thus need three licences. But you might actually have one on-premises and two in the cloud, thus changing your license demand.

And without knowing where your data is coming from, you won’t have an accurate understanding of your true licensing needs.

That is why finding and managing that data is the most important aspect of a SAM manager’s job. Although Cloud Strategy is typically playing catch-up with the move to the cloud, cloud data is solid. It is the only reliable resource for accurately and cost-effectively managing your software investment.

This is very important. Using the wrong data can lead to high costs and audit risks.

Cloud based software subscriptions

To decide whether a cloud subscription is the best fit for your infrastructure and corporate needs, you have to take a close look at the details. That means having a solid understanding of all of the relevant data. It’s not just usage data that matters. Finding the right licensing model for your environment means finding all of the pieces of the puzzle.

SAM in the cloud has to focus on the following data points:

  • The number of users accessing the software
  • The number of processors on the device hosting the application 
  • Is the software licensed different between on-premise or cloud – For example CORE FACTORS
  • Whether you have a hybrid licensing model, allowing for dual-usage in both the cloud and on-premises
  • Reviewing contracts to ensure you are allowed to run the software in the cloud. Don’t assume you can.

Cloud licensing is harder than it looks

Most people outside the SAM industry believe that cloud isn’t complicated, and so software compliance in the cloud shouldn’t be either.

That is, until they sit with an architect and design their SAM solution together. Software usage for on-premises environments is complex enough. But then drop in the different cloud licensing options: vendor-specific licensing models, licensing subscriptions, and BYOL schemes.

Then people start to understand that cloud licensing is complex, and requires a specific license management solution.

How to identify your cloud software licensing needs

So, if you don’t know what you have, how can you know what you need?

You might opt for a subscription cloud model when, in fact, bringing your own license (BYOL) might make more sense. For example, you may have a large number of users accessing the cloud, but if they are accessing it in shifts instead of all at the same time, then your current license may actually be cheaper than the subscription.

Even in the cloud, SAM doesn’t go away

Keep in mind that when it comes to cloud licensing models, it is still critical to know these things:

  • What you have now
  • What you use now
  • What you need

And these metrics will keep changing. If you take control early, decide on what you need out of the cloud, get all of the relevant data, and monitor, optimise, monitor, optimise, you can keep your cloud heaven from becoming your cloud hell. It’s SAM the old-fashioned way, but in the cloud.

Topics: Cloud, License Optimization, SAM Insights