BITMARCK gains software license cost transparency and audit-proofing with Aspera SmartTrack

BITMARCK is the biggest IT service provider for state health insurers with more than 1,300 employees. They implement intelligent IT solutions that benefit over 46,000 workspaces. Since 2010 BITMARCK has been using Aspera’s expertise and technology to support its Software License Management program.

Change Management in the Organization and Technology

BITMARCK is the biggest full-service provider for German state health insurance in the IT-market. 85% of state health insurers and 26 million insured benefit from BITMARCK services. To remain competitive and innovative, the cooperative founded an IT alliance encompassing all types of insurers and based on ITIL regulations, in 2008.

While setting up this new organization, emphasis was put on synchronizing various IT methods, processes, infrastructures, tools, and maturity levels – a considerable organizational and technical challenge. One of the major projects of this year-long transformation program was the purchase of software and – inextricably – license management.

Due to growing software portfolios and heterogeneous, highly complex IT infrastructures, the company-wide Software License Management that was established focused primarily on providing compliance and legal security through continuous tracking of and proof of entitlement for used licenses. Another key focus was getting and maintaining up-to-date and transparent license data to increase productivity in software purchasing and beneficially influence software contract negotiations and true ups.

For the above reasons, BITMARCK decided to invest in a professional Software Asset Management solution, and in 2010 decided on Aspera due to the consultants’ expertise as well as SmartTrack’s functionality and out-of-the-box connectors.

From Paper to Automated License and Software Inventories

Creating the license inventory posed a serious test, as all commercial data was available in hard copy only. Hence, contracts, invoices, and delivery notes needed to be examined and evaluated while heterogeneous data needed to be normalized and successively entered into the system– quite a challenging endeavor which was tackled successfully. This data clearing was followed by the data’s import into SmartTrack so that the Master Catalog could verify the records and supplement them with the Product Use Rights and other important information.

After working through the historical and current data in the above process it was decisive to determine and connect suitable data sources to ensure an automated process going forward. Furthermore, the interfaces for software usage had to provide the required data needed to manage the license metrics and contract models owned by BITMARCK.

In order to ensure that the required data is delivered, the complex dependency between individual data sources needed to be taken into consideration. The interfacing of the systems to SmartTrack ran smoothly because Aspera provides standard connectors to most common systems and databases. BITMARCK’s current license inventory is comprised of more than 1500 positions from more than 100 vendors.

“Aspera’s A-Model proved to be a structured best-practice method during the project phase,” says Thomas Stange, Head of License Management Department at BITMARCK.

Thanks to Aspera we now have a transparent, company-wide overview of licenses, software installations, and license demand. Our software inventory covers over 1,500 items from more than 100 software publishers. We’ve been able to increase the productivity of the employees in software purchasing by 10%.

Thomas Stange, Head of License Management Department

Down the Road to Software Value Management

The production stage of license management was kicked off at the end of 2012 and Thomas Stange is convinced that “decisive milestones have been achieved on the road to an economically efficient and audit-proof license management.” The benefit can be seen, for instance, in the case of 200 training PCs blocking licenses for software that weren’t being used anymore. A simple uninstall releases these licenses for productive use again.

A transparent overview of software installations and the software inventory allows for easy and efficient license control. As a result, not only are efforts for upcoming software audits minimized, but purchase processes for new licenses are, too. Knowledge of the license metric and common stumbling blocks in contracts is important as well.

New Way of Thinking

According to Stange, the above project has triggered a new way of thinking and awareness within the organization, which also contributed to the success of the project. Earlier it was just about full installation packages, but today uninstalling is also considered. Moreover, the acceptance of license management has increased considerably and led to improved, measurable results in more complex scenarios, such as the dynamic control of virtual machines.

Even though a lot has been achieved so far, BITMARCK and Aspera are keen on further optimizing Software License Management. The next steps planned include further process automation and optimization by realizing an ITSM interface. They intend to tackle the question of how to improve data quality in the ITSM system. Another area where both companies would like to co-operate is the direct connection of discovery tools. The latter ensures that the balance between compliance and efficient IT operations is maintained.

Do you know your license situation?

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