One of the world’s largest companies set out to reduce information silos, internally chargeback licensing costs, and decrease audit risk by implementing software license management. The enterprise envisioned license management as part of its mature IT service strategy, where the cost of software licenses would be charged back based on actual usage.
As a global organization, this enterprise needs to be everywhere for its customers. The decentralized structure, which is organized into 6 separate divisions, allows the company to optimally serve local markets in over 190 countries.
The Enterprise Business Services (EBS) division controls, among other areas: corporate assets, corporate procurement, Enterprise IT Services, finance operations, human resources, legal services, and risk management. When managing software assets, software compliance audits, and internal chargeback of licensing costs the decentralized structure and over 300,000 employees posed significant challenges.
In general, licenses and contracts were manually collected in Excel spreadsheets. And while individual tools were sporadically used for specific data, there was no specialized license management tool in place to handle all licenses. This created isolated silos of information.
The key challenges they faced were to consolidate and centralize licensing data as well as introduce processes, roles, structures and a technical system to manage and track all commercial software licenses. The goals set included improving data quality, gaining transparency into software demand, reconciliation of owned licenses with used software (compliance), and charging back the related licensing costs to the associated divisions.
The company decided to set up a unified license management service supported by a dedicated tool and Aspera SmartTrack was implemented. SmartTrack was chosen for its scalability, integrated Master Catalog and data quality management, software financial management functionality and intelligent interfaces to the procurement and ERP systems, and IT inventory and discovery tools, especially for the data center, such as iQuate and ILMT.
The initial phase was limited on the vendor level as the company selected “Top 5” vendors, based on the value and complexity of their software agreements. The first step began with the organization’s SAM team collecting all the accumulated license, contract, and installation data scattered across the globe for these vendors.
Within 12 months, they reached full visibility of all licenses and software assets for Oracle and SAP, which included more than 7,500 individual contracts for Oracle products and over 300 for SAP. During this phase the team successfully identified where they could make substantial reductions by consolidating support and maintenance agreements as well eliminate surplus administration efforts associated with duplicate contracts.
Aspera was chosen for its service-based approach to license management. So, aside from hosting the license management tool and providing the obligatory administration, Aspera provided data management and quality services, process design consulting and role training, in addition to the technical implementation, integration, and any customization required.
Maximum transparency and focusing on the actual value of IT resources ensures widespread acceptance of internal prices and charging methods.
Opponents to centrally managing the data were pleased with SmartTrack’s multi-level security features especially designed for large organizations. The freely configurable, granular security model makes sure each user only sees the data related to his/her role. This means there can be multiple users accessing the same database, but without seeing the entire contents. Roles can be set based on access to data and/or access to tool functionality.
A key obstacle for projects in decentralized environments is the reluctance to share data. As a result of Aspera’s project management expertise and experience aligning and rolling-out processes in large/multi-national enterprises, we were able to work with the company’s decentralized culture and design a process that consolidates the data centrally, while still allowing each division to maintain its own license management, in addition to IT Services’ corporate license management services.
Important factors contributing to the success of the project and ongoing operation were Aspera training staff in each division of the enterprise, our best practice data feed register and standardized templates to help gather the required license and contract information for SmartTrack. The data feed register defines:
- What data must be imported,
- From which sources,
- How often, and
- Who is responsible for the feed.
It is a “people process”—a living breathing document that supports data sharing, quality management, and helps IT Services keep the enterprise license management system up-to-date.
In return, the centrally maintained license and software inventories in SmartTrack allow Enterprise IT Services and divisional license managers to instantly look up (based on their role) any particular organizational unit’s demand for software and licenses. Through this basic benefit of license management they significantly reduced the amount of time required to prepare for contract renewals and true-ups.
EBS Enterprise IT Services has the cost perspective to enterprise-wide software license management constantly in view with SmartTrack’s budgeting and chargeback features. While each division has its own license management, they also have the option to serve itself from Enterprise IT Services’ license management (request licenses, maintenance, etc.) and IT Services is able account the costs back to the respective division.
Each division is charged based on its actual usage and the real costs. So, the invoices cover maintenance, depreciation, and the internal service fee. For clarity the invoices are also separated by software product; additionally, more complex cost keys, such as for Oracle and SAP products, come with detailed account documentation.
Overall, SmartTrack manages millions of license and software records for the organization, although capturing all data is a difficult task faced by every license management program. By providing software resellers with standard (mandatory) templates to deliver purchase data ready for upload into SmartTrack, the company is able to include the resellers in its data management process, while making it much easier to track licenses and avoid losing them in information silos.
Having a grasp on all the data as well as clear knowledge about software demand and license contracts are essential for on-going improvement and continuous cost reduction. Aspera was chosen not only for SmartTrack, its software license management tool, but also for its successful track record, with over 130 customers, many of whom have been efficiently running Aspera license management for over 10 years.