Challenges of License Compliance in Hybrid Infrastructures

The simple question is: “Is there a need for Software Asset Management in the modern Hybrid Infrastructure world?”. Because with all sorts of cloud computing there cannot be any incompliance anymore and managing subscriptions is easy. Right? And the on-premises IT Infrastructures are decreasing in numbers, so the life of CIO’s, IT Managers and Asset Managers gets more simple over time …

The truth is that the world of Software Asset Management (SAM) and license compliance gets more complicated once organizations start adding cloud services to their own IT Infrastructures. Here are some simple considerations which explain increasing complexity.

Partly hosted infrastructure
Organizations who have a part of their IT Infrastructure hosted at a Service Provider pay a monthly fee for the service. Mostly the Service or Hosting Provider is the licensee who holds the contract with the software vendor, like Microsoft. But in some circumstances end-customers can use their right for License Mobility when they have Software Assurance attached to their software licenses. In simpel words, those customers can reassign their licenses from their own on-premises IT Infrastructure to the Hosting Provider and start using the software. But when doing so the entities who are legally bound to software contracts starts to vary. The end-customer (the user of the software) has a contract with Microsoft, but the Service Provider does also. Who is responsible for maintaining compliance? What happens when customers discontinue their Software Assurance? How will both organizations register license assignment, contract renewals, reassigning of licenses and so on?

Public cloud services
Another complicating factor in the IT Infrastructure are public cloud services. Adding just one service might be easy to manage. But when organizations start using multiple public cloud services, like SaaS office applications, SaaS line of business or ERP applications and Azure or AWS for the infrastructure, again, the complexity increases. Not only due to multiple license or cloud agreements, but every software vendor has its own terms of use and those are rarely in harmony.

software asset management hybrid it licensing

Shadow IT
In the two paragraphs above I’m writing about cloud services the organization knows of. But then there is the phenomenon of ‘shadow IT’. When the IT department cannot meet the requirements of departments or individual employees, or cannot meet their requirements fast enough, today, these departments and employees are happy to swipe their own credit card and subscribe to web applications themselves. The cost of the subscription, payed with their private credit cards, is simply claimed as a business expense at the HR or Finance department. When software registrations within the organization are not aligned, the IT department won’t even know this new cloud services is within their IT environment. Not even thinking about the security risks …

Usage optimization
The examples above are ground for serious compliance concerns within todays organizations. But there is another factor: usage optimization. And with that I return to the need for Software Asset Management in today’s hybrid IT environments. With SAM done right, SAM consulting firms collect large amounts of data. Data on usage of software, within departments and business units and by individual users. With this data the SAM partners can consult businesses on license and cloud optimization. This is very much needed, because in the modern hybrid IT environment we encounter as much over usage as incompliance.

Challenge yourselves
Hybrid IT Infrastructures lead to licensing complexity and with that to real challenges. Insight, overview en and control. Technology, people and process. Are you in control? Are you sure? And is your ‘opinion’ backed by data? Challenge yourself! Start with Software Asset Management and find the answer.