Audits are up and tools are not doing so well, so IT asset managers need to ask tougher questions when purchasing new offerings.
Among the keynote presentations from analysts and other distinguished speakers at analyst Gartner’s first IT asset management (ITAM) event in Europe recently, a number of points were raised that made the IT asset managers in the auditorium wince.
Namely, that the trend of increasing software vendor audits continues, while at the same time ITAM software is in a Hype Cycle phase that Gartner calls the “trough of disillusionment”.
More organisations are being audited by vendors and must respond with tools in which they have little or no faith. This is hardly encouraging if you are the person responsible for managing and reporting on IT assets across the corporate network.
We probably do not need to spend a long time investigating why software audits are still proliferating; it is a legitimate business and one that provides much-needed revenue to the software industry in otherwise tough times.
I believe that ITAM tools are currently held in low regard. Tools vendors need to take a share of the blame here, and maybe customers do too. For vendors and resellers, it can sometimes prove all too tempting to oversell the capabilities of a product.
If you want a fully integrated discovery and application deployment capability, you may not be told, for example, if they are actually two applications with completely separate admin consoles and reporting interfaces.
If you wish to import audit information from a third-party discovery tool and use this for licence management, you may not be told that you can import only a subset of the audit data, which has limited value for licensing.
If you desire 100 per cent automatic software recognition, you may not be informed that the process is not actually automatic at all and takes a team of outsourced workers about two weeks to turn around.
By asking more difficult questions, resellers and their customers can hopefully avoid experiencing a brief honeymoon period with software asset management (SAM) followed by a fall into the trough of disillusionment.
Do not merely ask whether the product can do something, also probe how exactly it does it. It is far too easy for a vendor to say yes to the “if” question, while covering up shortcomings when it comes to the “how”.
Another potential danger is that many ITAM tools were never designed for the purpose for which they are now being used. Many started life as a discovery tool, an asset register or an application deployment solution.
With licence management and SAM requirements on the increase at a far greater rate than other ITAM areas, it is no surprise that many tools are not delivering. So choose carefully for your customer.
There are, of course, many benefits to opting for a suite approach where you select the one offering that meets most requirements.
The problem is that if it meets 95 per cent of your deployment requirements but only 60 per cent of your licence management requirements, it is effectively useless for licence management.
Some advanced licence management tools are designed to be implemented as an overlay to existing or co-purchased ITAM solutions.
That way, the customer really can get the best of both worlds: a comprehensive ITAM solution for the majority of their needs, and a dedicated licence management overlay that works alongside the ITAM tool set to deliver the level of information required to manage software entitlements.
Sean Robinson is a director of Licence Dashboard
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