Friday, December 12, 2008

Software Licensing - IT Cost Savings Opportunities

If you've followed this blog at all you know that a recurring theme is the money saving opportunities inherent in a successful Software Asset Management program (just ask our client who has outsourced their SAM program to us...and already saved double our annual fee in just the second month of the program). However; this month I want to focus on some specific technology projects that can save significantly on software licensing costs.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so if you've had success with others please share!

1) Server Virtualization - it's on everyones list anyway...but it's also an area where I see frequent mis-management of licensing so please, do it right! See the Microsoft licensing snapshot below and then do the math of what is the most effective for your organization (and as always, consider future growth).

Microsoft virtual server licensing in a snapshot:
  • Windows Server Standard allows for 1 install (and technically 1 physical instance to enable the virtual environment),
  • Windows Server Enterprise allows for 4 virtual instances and 1 physical instance (but that instance is only allowable to enable the virtual environment, this does NOT mean that Enterprise allows 5 fully functioning installs),
  • Windows Server Datacenter allows for unlimited installs but is licensed per processor (and typically costs about the same amount per processor as Windows Enterprise does per server).

2) SQL Server 2005 upgrade - if you still have a SQL Server 2000 environment, consider upgrading.

OK, this could come under the category of spending money - but considering how many of these I've found were never fully licensed in the first place you might find it helps you finally get fully licensed but for less money.

SQL Server 2005 technology and licensing enables many companies to move away from the need for the Enterprise edition and duplication of licensing through higher ceilings on size for Standard and the change in clustering and failover licensing.

3) Look at your network utilities. How much redundancy do you have between your products?

I see it time and time again, a company has a patch management tool and a desktop configuration tool and a asset discovery tool and a software deployment tool and a ....

However; take a took at the toolsets offered by your 3 primary tools. Do not be surprised to find that they've expanded functionality into an area you're covering with a different tool. Find out if you're paying the extra money because it truly adds value to the organization or if it's simply out of habit and a need for education on a tools features.

On a wrap up note, there's plenty of money left on the table with technology. This might be a really good time to gather that money up and put it back to work for your company.

I've found a new site focusing on ITAM and SAM, I recommend checking it out...The ITAM Review.

Happy Holidays and a successful and joyous New Year!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Software Licensing and Tough Economies

Is your company tightening its pursestrings? Have you been told to hold off on all "unnecessary purchases" for a couple of quarters? Did your 2009 budget just go through rather drastic cuts? Have layoffs occurred or are they looming?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you're not alone. For any of us who came through the "Dot Bust" of the early 2000's (particularly in Northern California), we may remember these signs well. I remember heading into it (as a not yet 2 year old consulting business) and the phases that it went through. However; I also have worked with many businesses since and have seen the outcome of decisions they made to "save costs" that had long term negative impact.

Here are some things to think about:
1) You can't manage what you don't know. Software costs are one of the line items you're going to be watching closely - make sure you have the tools in place to tell you exactly what is being used and what you own. Then you can continue to provide your business users with the tools they need to do their job but ensure that you're not over-purchasing in this category.

2) Servers and client access licenses - get expert advice. This is consistently the area where I see costly mistakes being made, typically on the basis of relying on the knowledge of someone who doesn't keep current with publisher's product use rights. A recent half day consultation with us saved one of our clients $30,000 in server licensing costs. This is an area where it doesn't cost much to get advice that can save you a bundle!

3) Review your maintenance agreements and renewal contracts - in the past several "lush" years we've seen many clients opting for convenience over cost savings. Now that things are leaner, you might need to re-think some of your past decisions to ensure they are meeting your current goals.

4) Evaluate your reseller. Just like #3 above, are the "value added services" provided by your reseller justifying their markup on your software? This is another area where that client we mentioned in #2 received significant benefit from that consultation. They needed to change resellers and leveraged us to make the change - it resulted in $15,000 in free consulting services from us as a "thank you" from their new reseller...that's paying for them to have us manage their software license situation monthly for the next year!

5) If you're downsizing and having to "do more with less", we can ensure you still have the information you need on a monthly basis to get full value of your software assets...for a fraction of the cost of doing it internally - call or e-mail me and free up some of your staffs limited time.

These are just some suggestions, the important thing to remember is times of financial hardship it is our responsibility to ensure our decisions help our companies (a) survive the downturn, and (b) are positioned to prosper immediately in the upturn.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Digital Asset Management - Respecting IP and Staying Out of Trouble!

Intellectual property rights cover a wide spectrum, and while I typically talk to software licensing IP - I don't want to overlook other forms of digital IP that can place an organization at risk if used improperly.

Just because something is available in digital format doesn't mean it can be readily copied, shared or paraphrased. Check those licenses! The hard part is that the digital format frequently makes it that much easier to do something wrong when it comes to IP.

It cost this California company $300,000 because they were internally distributing "press packages" that included unlicensed copies of articles. This was not an intentional act, it was a mistake made by someone who didn't know better...could this happen to your company?

I attended Scott Bain's (SIIA's Litigation Analyst) presentation "Reduce Legal Risks by Managing Digital Content" in June at ECPweb's SAM Summit 2008 in Chicago - a terrific presentation and education for me (I try to be very aware of potential IP issues...but I found that even so I had unknowingly acted illegally in the past when it came to digital piracy).

Let's think about some common examples of potential piracy: Music or Video's stored on your corporate network, subscription based content forwarded through e-mail or stored to the network for others to use, excerpts from e-mail newsletters that you copy and send to others...the list goes on.

I'll let you in on my most professionals I get a number of newsletters e-mailed to me on a regular basis. Before I had it pointed out to me that it was wrong, I would think nothing of copying the full contents (author, etc) of an article and sending it to someone I felt would be interested. The problem - those e-mail newsletters are sponsored by companies that pay to have people see their ads...but circumventing the advertising I was cheating them. If you want to share, use the built in mechanism most newsletters have to "Share with a Friend", or send the link to the owners website so the person you're sharing with can access the source. Better yet, check the license terms for sharing the content.

There's a great educational site by the SIIA to help you and your employees make the right choices ( Digital assets are a bit tougher to monitor than software assets, but they are every bit as important to manage them appropriately.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do It Yourself or Have a Professional Do It For You?

Sorry I've been rather quiet the past couple of months...we've been launching a new service (or more accurately - finally marketing an old service) and that's been distracting me a bit.

What we're doing is finally offering our SAM managed services offering (LOL...OK, when we started doing this 10 years ago we were calling it Outsourcing) to all of our clients.

Basically, we do everything to give you the information you need to run your business with the appropriate software licensing at the appropriate cost. See, for us - that's easy. We live and breathe software licensing, processes, controls and negotiations. We keep up with what's going on in the marketplace, because it's our business. Typically companies (excluding large enterprises) simply can't dedicate the resources to do this in a cost efficient manner. For us to do it, the service pays for itself and you're not running the risk that you're relying on a staff member whose knowledge is from 2 versions ago.

We're not looking to replace your current staff members...we're looking to free up their time so they can focus on areas that move you forward.

Our service has been extremely successful - we've been told by our clients that the price is attractive, the deliverables timely and needed, and the independent relationship (not the reseller, etc) extremely beneficial and ties in well with internal governance programs.
However; I'm curious, what are your thoughts?...What would you want in such a service? How often would you want it? What would you want to pay for it? Would you want a service like this?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Here We Go Again...

Let's take a walk down memory lane....the year is 1994 and a mid-size national firm (1,200 PC's) has a new software manager who realizes that the firm needs to be buying their software on a volume license, so she starts down the path of finding out everything she needs to know to make this happen.

Since there's no one she can find who can educate her on this, she turns to her reseller...who invests a lot of time and energy into educating her. Finally, time comes to seal the deal and another reseller walks in the door and tells her a few more things that the first reseller didn't tell her....things that would have a strong impact on the financial viability of the purchase.

Time passes, this software manager continues to learn and comes to realize that there were even more things she should have been told that neither reseller told her...that money was lost on the deal because she hadn't known them when the deal was made. Unfortunately, there hadn't been anyone to advise her that didn't have a vested interest in the deal.

Fast forward to 2008, that software manager (and yes...that was me) would no longer have to rely on the advice of a reseller...there are instead a number of small Software Asset Management (SAM) consulting firms that would appropriately advise her on all important aspects of the deal - helping her make the right choice and the best deal for her business.

However; we have to be careful that this valuable source of independent information remains available to consumers.

Most major resellers are now starting up SAM consulting businesses in response to publisher requirements. Here's the problem with that...since consulting isn't the primary business line a reseller can price their consulting services at a price that an independent firm can't compete with...and the next thing you know, the only source of information for you on that major purchase is someone who has a vested interest in the outcome...

Are we coming full circle? I hope not - the reason I started my firm in 1999 was because I saw a need for companies to have someone on their side of the deal....whether it's me or another small SAM firm, I don't want companies to lose that independent perspective.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Realistic IT Budget Cuts and Finding More Money...'s so cyclical. We go through lush years when the primary focus is just "getting things done" and we grow fat, then we hit a slow down and we suddenly have to watch our dollars and the primary focus becomes "get it done...but don't spend any money" and we are forced on a diet.

Unfortunately, in the directive to cut costs - we don't always do it in the best fashion. There are costs you can cut in your IT budget without impacting service - they never should have been there in the first place...they came from lack of time and desire for convenience.

Where to look:
1) Software licensing agreements and maintenance plans
2) Telecommunications costs
3) Outsourcing agreements

If you don't have the talent in-house to do this, hire it out.

A reputable consultant will be able to tell you after a quick look if there is money to be saved - so you should know without incurring costs (or possibly very minimal costs) to what magnitude your savings opportunities are - they should full justify the cost of the consultant plus significant savings to your organization.

Additionally - there is money on the table when you are signing or renewing a deal. Make sure you're working with an expert who knows how to get you the most from your negotiations.

Don't wait until your budget is due to start this process...get a jump start and get it done now - you know budget time is always a crunch...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stop wasting money on your software purchases!

LOL...OK, don't misread my probably still need to spend money on software purchases - my point is, you should stop the waste that goes on in most purchases.

Are you getting the most you can out of your software purchases? I doubt it. Frankly, I've proven time and time again that companies aren' see, there really are "tricks" to doing this right and unless your purchasing agent has lived the experience from both the consulting and the reseller side, they're not going to know them.

A couple of examples of major savings we negotiated this past year:
  • $260,000 on a $1.6m purchase through leveraging publisher relationship
  • $65,000 in free services on that same purchase through leveraging vendor relationship
  • $150,000 in savings on hardware purchase associated with that same software purchase
  • $180,000 in savings through education on product use rights options
  • $15,000 in free services on a $200,000 purchase through leveraging vendor relationship
  • $52,000 in free services on a $900k purchase through leveraging vendor relationship
  • $250,000 in savings through education on product use rights options

Now, these were all fairly large purchases....but percentage wise these are still sizeable dollar savings. In all cases, these companies had saavy purchasing agents...but these are not deals those purchasing agents would have been able to negotiate. It requires someone who specializes in this industry to know the ins and outs and negotiate the best deals.

CIO Insight says 44% of the CIO's reported "cutting costs" as a top priority for 2008 (

CIO's know they are going to have to watch their spend this year...unfortunately too many assume that they're getting their best deal on their software because they've compared prices and negotiated agreements. But they don't know the money they're leaving on the table.

Call us before you make that next purchase...let us show you how much money we can save you - money you can spend on new projects rather than on just maintaining your software!