Plug-ins Review Index
AssetLabs is a web-based software recognition and reconciliation service.
For organizations wishing to make use of their SCCM inventory, a simple data-extraction tool is provided. The tool is installed locally on the network and communicates directly with the SQLServer database, bypassing SCCM. This generates an excel file of installed applications &devices which can be uploaded to the AssetLabs website for processing along with volume license statements from publishers (Microsoft MLS &Adobe LWS).
Traditional on-premise software asset management tool vendors typically only have a partial view of their customer’s license databases. They might mature the software recognition databases of their tools by accepting requests from customers, assessing databases received during support calls or by external research.
In contrast, the beauty of a web provider such as AssetLabs is that they have immediate visibility of all software across all clients. The software recognition capabilities of their database mature with each new client.
AssetLabs provides the most logical and straightforward software recognition I have seen. This will be a godsend for organizations wrestling with output from traditional inventory tools and attempting to prepare for a Microsoft or Adobe negotiation. It is a business view on technical data with agreement negotiation in mind, and can calculate &build Microsoft ELP (Effective License Position) statements.
Their online service has a very logical way of organising vendors and product lines to take account of the acquisitive nature of software companies and constant state of flux in the industry. For example the software you have installed (MacroMedia,) might not be the company you have an agreement with (Adobe).
Valuable filters are then applied to sort the signal from the noise. If you take the output of a traditional SAM tool, then hire a black-belt licensing specialist to refine the data for a few months –you might have something close to the out-of-the-box service deliverable from AssetLabs.
Don’t Disturb The SCCM Guys
The key deliverable here is time saved from doing this data-scrubbing in-house. This is a hard sell to the uninitiated, a no-brainer for anyone who has experienced the licensing equivalent of root canal by trying to work with raw SCCM data.
Raw SCCM inventory data is cleaned, normalised, organized and updated. Application upgrade and downgrade rights – and downgrade calculations –can be viewed along support expiry dates, Windows 7 readiness, versions and consumption data. The Microsoft and Adobe ‘auditable’ reports are particularly powerful – cutting out hours and hours of excel crunching and delivering immediate visibility of any compliance exposure.
AssetLabs have attempted to position this solution as harnessing the SCCM data, without bugging the SCCM team. They argue that the SCCM guy is guardian of the data but he has enough on his plate without getting involved with SAM. The solution allows SCCM data to be extracted and used with minimal fuss and interaction with SCCM itself.
‘Forecast The Future’
From the first point in time ‘true-up’ clients can add new inventory and consumption statements over time, allowing Assetlabs to record previous behaviour and predict expected license positions in the future. I suspect that this sort of feature is too far ahead of the curve for most organizations that might be content just to establish a compliance position. But for the more mature organization that wants to enter an enterprise agreement negotiation with accurate information or forecast the budget required for the end of term true up –this will be a valuable tool.
Product / Service Hybrid
For desktop volume titles like Microsoft and Adobe, the out of the box recognition is undoubtedly slick. In contrast, the reconciliation process should be considered more of a service. AssetLabs promise a turn-around of less than one day, which is light years ahead of doing it manually. I see more vendors offering this hybrid-managed service, perhaps in conjunction with a LAR. It is in response to the fact that this process takes time and requires specialist expertise.
The economies of scale and efficiency of a cloud service means providers are able to step in and take away some of the heavy lifting at a compelling price.
AssetLabs is a tactical solution for audit, true up and negotiation readiness. It will be good to see how their solution develops. There is certainly scope of an online licensing concierge service by perhaps making the SCCM data extraction semi-permanent, introducing software usage information, datacentre vendors and fetching and processing consumption statements on the clients’ behalf. Once AssetLabs reaches a critical mass of customers, they could also harness the massive amount of data collected to provide benchmarking and licensing analytics – “how am I doing compared to similar companies of my size?”
One to watch.
From the brochure:
From the creator of Microsoft’s SCCM ‘Asset Intelligence’ reports & categories comes AssetCheck: an ‘on-demand’ license entitlement solution to empower your team to immediately determine your current entitlement position, forecast future license violations, spot potential productivity & security risks, and review Windows 7 compatibility requirements. Within minutes, use your SCCM data to create & share executive dashboards that identify licensing, budget, productivity and security risks.
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