1 SW WHITE PAPER WHY SCCM AND SW CREATES SUCCESSFUL SAM HOW TO ADDRESS THE REAL-WORLD CHALLENGES OF MANAGING SOFTWARE ASSETS ON TODAY S NETWORKS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY For organizations that have spent time and money deploying Microsoft SCCM, there is a temptation to think that they have SAM covered. And indeed, SCCM can play a vital role in the successful management of the software assets across the organization. However, SCCM was never conceived as a SAM solution and, as such, it falls short in a number of key areas. That s not to say implementing SCCM was a wasted effort far from it. This paper highlights how organizations can combine the power of SCCM with specialist SAM capabilities from Snow Software creating a highly effective and affordable integrated SAM solution that maximizes an organization s existing investments.
2 1.0 INTRODUCTION Microsoft SCCM (or System Center Configuration Manager, to give its full name) is one of the most popular inventory tools for Windows environments - it is an effective solution for tracking the deployment of hardware running Windows and has the ability to find and audit the software files installed on them. SCCM is often available to Microsoft volume licensing customer either free or at discounted rates. Recently, SCCM 12 has expanded its capabilities to inventory some non-microsoft applications and platforms and has made improvements to the way license entitlements are recorded in the repository. As such, Microsoft SCCM is becoming a credible multi-platform inventory tool. And let s not forget that SCCM s real value comes from using its abilities to configure and deploy software out onto the network, facilitate remote PC diagnostic repair and manage user rights. Notice that Software Asset Management (SAM) isn t on that list. In fact, take a look at Microsoft s own website and you ll see they don t position SCCM as a SAM solution (http://www.microsoft.com/en-in/server-cloud/system-center/configuration-manager-features.aspx). Where it is already in place, SCCM can and should be an integral part of the overall SAM solution. But asset managers should be aware that SCCM still requires complementary solutions to fully manage the effective reconciliation of installed software against the license entitlements owned by the organization. Where does SCCM excel and where does it fall short? The table below outlines the key technical requirements of a successful SAM solution, and shows where SCCM delivers and where it doesn t: SAM SOLUTION REQUIREMENT Inventory of Windows-based hardware Inventory of non-windows hardware Inventory of non-microsoft hypervisors Inventory of software applications on Windows Inventory of software applications on non-windows platforms Automatic identification of commercial applications & suites Tracking of software usage on Windows devices Tracking of software usage on non-windows and thin-client devices Tracking of applications based in the Cloud Ability to input licenses for Windows software Ability to input licenses for non-windows software Application of licensing intelligence such as upgrates and downgrades Bulk upload of license entitlements Automatic upload of MLS Management Reporting options Creation of a compliance / Effective Licensing Position statement Collaborative multi-user interface and reporting SCCM?
3 2.0 STRENGTH AND WEAKNESSES OF MICROSOFT SCCM Based on the table above it is clear to see what, while SCCM is good at some tasks such as Windows hardware inventory and software file auditing, it is far from a complete Software Asset Management (SAM) solution. That s not to say SCCM is redundant or should be replaced. For those organizations that have already taken the trouble to deploy and configure SCCM (and who are happy with the results it is providing), SCCM can make an important contribution towards the overall SAM system by providing audit information from the Windows portion (and some non-windows platforms) of the estate. But it is important to accept that SCCM is not a fully-featured SAM or license management solution and at best is only the start of the solution. To be truly effective, SCCM needs to be paired with other technologies that enable organizations to manage the assets and entitlements across the organization. The following sections offer some advice on how to address the SCCM weaknesses identified above: 2.1 INVENTORY OF N-WINDOWS HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE THE CHALLENGE: Despite adding support for some flavors of Mac, Unix and Linux, SCCM is still limited in its ability to audit the platforms commonly used by enterprises. In particular, SCCM has difficulties in accurately identifying the software installed on non-windows devices (due the differences in how software is installed and indexed on platforms such as Mac OSX, Linux and Unix). It s also worth noting that using SCCM in large organizations create a lot of bandwidth, as traffic from the local clients back to the server is not compressed. THE FIX: Organizations with a mixed-platform network should consider additional technologies that can provide better visibility of non-windows hardware and software. Using a solution like Snow License Manager, both SCCM and other third-party inventory audit data can be collated into a single repository, giving complete visibility of all platforms. Snow also compresses all data sent from clients to the servers, minimizing network overhead. 2.2 INVENTORY OF N-MICROSOFT HYPERVISORS THE CHALLENGE: A growing number of organizations are deploying multiple virtualization technologies not only Microsoft s Hyper-V, but also VMware and Citrix. With software licensing, it is increasingly important to understand not only the configuration of the virtual device, but also the physical host. With SCCM, the configuration of hosts running VMware or Citrix hypervisors cannot be identified, which means that the licenses consumed by physical and virtual machines based on those virtualization technologies cannot be accurately managed. THE FIX: If an organization currently uses, or plans to deploy, non-microsoft hypervisor technologies, SCCM will not provide the required host configuration data. SAM platforms like Snow have the ability to integrate with all major hypervisors and give license administrators access to the information they need, eliminating the risk of non-compliance on virtual estates. 2.3 AUTOMATIC RECOGNITION OF COMMERCIAL SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS AND SUITES THE CHALLENGE: Microsoft SCCM attempts to do software recognition (the transformation of raw software file audit data into recognizable commercially-licensable applications) in-product. Put bluntly, it often doesn t work well even for Microsoft s own products, let alone applications from other vendors. For example, knowing that excel.exe has been found on the hard drive is only of limited value to a SAM or licensing manager. They need to know whether Excel has actually been installed, whether it was installed standalone or as part of a suite (and if a suite, what edition). So while SCCM does a good job of collecting the raw data, all too often it fails to deliver the added intelligence required for the SAM process. THE FIX: Taking the raw feed from SCCM (and a growing number of other inventory solutions), Snow Software s unique Software Recognition Service (SRS) transforms raw data into actionable intelligence letting SAM managers know exactly what is installed, how it is installed and what the licensing obligations are. The Snow SRS automatically recognizes over 170,000 applications from more than 28,500 vendors out-of-the-box. Where an application is not immediately recognized, it is automatically sent to the Snow SRS team for further investigation and the recognized application details are returned in just a few days. As such, Snow is the only SAM solutions provider in the market able to offer a 100% recognition guarantee. 2.4 IDENTIFICATION OF PRODUCT VERSIONS AND EDITIONS THE CHALLENGE: When identifying certain types of software especially expensive server products such as SQL SCCM can only recognize the product name, not the edition. With huge differences in costs and licensing obligations between standard and enterprise versions of applications, this shortfall can create both compliance and cost management issues across the network. THE FIX: Snow software uses a more intelligent software recognition engine (also see Software Recognition Service above) to accurately identify the product, version and edition of server products. This ensures that asset managers have an accurate view of what is actually deployed on the network and therefore what their license obligations are.
4 2.5 TRACKING OF CLOUD-BASED APPLICATION USAGE THE CHALLENGE: Over half of organizations now use one or more business applications hosted in a cloud. Traditional inventory solutions like SCCM can t track applications accessed through the web, which leaves a growing hole in the asset and usage information available to the SAM managers. This can easily lead to over-spend, as organizations fail to identify where licenses have been purchased but are not used regularly. THE FIX: Snow offers organizations the ability to track the use of cloud-based applications, so that SAM managers can ensure they are getting value for money from suppliers and not over-paying for unused licenses. All results are shown in the main Snow interface alongside the organization s on-premise software. 2.6 MANAGEMENT REPORTING OPTIONS THE CHALLENGE: SCCM is a tool typically used by a small number of skilled technicians, whose reporting requirements are very technical and detailed. Other stakeholders involved in SAM across the organization typically cannot access SCCM or generate their own meaningful management reports and so have to ask the SCCM administrators to prepare this information, which can be a slow and tedious task. THE FIX: Snow not only cleans SCCM data, it also provides a multi-user roles-based web interface that enables authorized stakeholders across the business to create their own management reports which deliver a real business focus, rather than purely technical detail. Authorized users can create vendor-specific compliance and licensing reports in a matter of minutes. These reports can be delivered to recipients via and can be scheduled to run automatically. 2.7 USER TRACKING THE CHALLENGE: SCCM can be configured to track the use of individual applications on the Windows network. This has to be done manually per application and the tracking is limited to reporting on whether the application is used on a daily basis, weekly, monthly and so on. The main issue with this approach is that it lack any kind of user-based tracking you can t see who is accessing applications on each device. As the data returned by clients to the server is not compressed, some organizations can be reluctant to enable usage tracking due to the heavy increase in bandwidth consumption. THE FIX: Some solutions like Snow make tracking application usage easier and more effective, with both less administration and more data. In Snow s case, all applications are tracked by default and the usage information includes details on individual users. Because the usage data is compressed before transmission to the server, the bandwidth requirement is dramatically reduced when compared to SCCM. 2.8 CREATING EFFECTIVE LICENSING POSITION (ELP) AND COMPLIANCE REPORTS THE CHALLENGE: SCCM has a powerful reporting engine, but it is difficult to use and often not available to more than a small cadre of power users. Compliance reports are basic and are often inaccurate due to a lack of real licensing intelligence in the solution. This creates a real bottleneck in the creation of reports as multiple stakeholders from various non-it departments have to rely on these SCCM administrators to define, execute and forward reports based on the SCCM data. THE FIX: Solutions like Snow have been designed from the ground up to give organizations the information they need to accurately assess and report on their compliance status. Snow features a full suite of management reports that can be generated by multiple authorized stakeholders across the organization with no specialist training. Further, Snow also highlights unused entitlements, where an organization isn t utilizing the latest licenses or its full allocation. This helps turn SAM into a business value for the wider organization.
5 3.0 SCCM + SW = SUCCESSFUL SAM To be clear, despite the shortcomings outlined above, we re not advocating an SCCM or Snow debate. Rather, we strongly believe that together SCCM and Snow deliver a far more effective and valuable SAM solution. SCCM is a capable solution and has an important role to play in the provision of data into the SAM process; but as we have seen it is lacking in a number of key areas. The table below shows how Snow adds value to the SCCM solution to provide a complete license management and SAM solution that will drive real value to the organization: Requirement SCCM SCCM+SW Inventory of Wintel hardware Inventory of non-windows hardware Inventory of non-microsoft hypervisors (virtual environments) Inventory of software applications on Wintel Inventory of software applications on non-windows platforms Automatic identification of Commercial applications & suites Tracking of software usage on Wintel devices Tracking of software usage on non-wintel and thin-client devices Tracking of applications based in the Cloud Ability to input licenses for Wintel software Ability to input licenses for non-wintel software Application of licensing intelligence such as upgrades and downgrades Bulk upload of license entitlements Automatic upload of MLS Management Reporting options Creation of a compliance / Effective Licensing Position statement Collaborative and multi-user interface and reporting To make it as easy as possible to gain the advantages of SCCM and Snow working together, Snow has developed an automated import system that uses a pre-defined schedule to collect the source data from SCCM, which is then automatically processed through the Software Recognition Service (SRS) with no need for manual intervention (unlike other license management tools that claim SCCM integration, that actually require you to manually import and oversee the cleansing process). This essentially makes SCCM an integral part of the SCCM process without having to spend time managing two systems at the same time.
6 4.0 SW - TAKE THE OPTIONS YOU NEED, LEAVE THE ONES YOU DON T The Snow SAM platform is designed to allow organizations to easily take advantage of the features they require, without having to pay for those they don t. For example, organizations that have already deployed SCCM do not need to duplicate the audit of Wintel machines with Snow s Inventory solution. But Snow Inventory may give the same organization an effective mechanism to audit the non-windows devices or Cloud applications not currently covered by SCCM. Similarly, for organizations that have Oracle databases deployed, Snow OMO (Oracle Management Option) is an invaluable addition to the SAM platform - allowing organizations to identify and track the configuration and usage of Oracle databases across multiple platforms. But if you don t have Oracle; you don t pay for Snow OMO. Where organizations already have multiple inventory tools deployed - or have multiple sources of audit data (perhaps Active Directory or even an ERP system populated with user details) - Snow again adds value by bringing these disparate data sets together in a centralized view (which, by the way, is also cleansed and normalized as part of the import process). 5.0 SUMMARY When it comes to building an effective SAM solution, organizations that have already deployed (or are considering deploying) Microsoft SCCM should not view the purchase of Snow s SAM platform as an either/or decision. SCCM and Snow are complementary solutions that work together - SCCM is great at feeding Snow with Windows inventory information. Without Snow, SCCM is still a great solution for configuring and deploying Windows software and tracking the deployment of Windows-based assets. But it is not a Software Asset Management solution. Understanding the software audit information and compliance reports in SCCM is a difficult task and is restricted to a small number of gurus in the organization. With multiple stakeholders from across the organization requiring tailored access to the SAM solution (e.g. input licensing information, review the licensing position, create management reports and understand the financial liabilities of the organization), Snow opens up the world of asset information and ensures that SAM is no longer a silo responsibility but a true cross-organizational activity. Ultimately, adding Snow to your SAM platform will drive down the cost of implementing and managing a SAM program, increase the availability of licenses and assets, reduce the risks associated with vendor software audits and deliver real-world cost-savings in new license expenditure. With Snow and SCCM working together, it s a win-win situation.
7 6.0 ABOUT SW SOFTWARE Snow Software is a global leader in the delivery of on-premise and cloud-based Software Asset Management solutions, including multi-platform inventory and advanced software license management technologies. Every day, organizations ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations and governments use Snow solutions to analyze and manage more than 1.7 billion software records. Since 1997, Snow Software has sold millions of licenses to thousands of end user organizations and service providers worldwide who rely on Snow s SAM expertise to manage compliance, optimize software availability and drive cost savings. Privately-funded, Snow Software is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, with international offices located in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, The Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. 6.1 NEXT STEP To learn more about Snow Software s SAM solutions or to discuss a no-charge proof of concept SAM project, contact your local Snow office below: United Kingdom Venture House 2 Arlington Square Downshire Way, Bracknell Berkshire, RG12 1WA Telephone +44 (0) Fax +44 (0) United States 1300 Guadalupe Street Suite 260 Austin, TX Telephone Brazil Rua Oscar Freire, o Andar São Paulo, SP Telephone Sweden Box Solna Telephone +46 (0) Fax +46 (0) Norway Vakåsveien Hvalstad Telephone Denmark Korskildelund Greve Telephone Germany Leinfelderstraße Leinfelden-Echterdingen Telephone +49(0) Fax +49(0) The Netherlands Tappersweg ET Haarlem Telephone China 33/F Jardine House 1 Connaught Place Central, Hong Kong Telephone
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