eTelligent provide a SaaS based ITAM platform for management of hardware and software. Based in the US, eTelligent provide their technology as part of a managed service, standalone or white labelled via business partners.
Their solution is based on taking advantage of existing in house discovery and inventory sources and creating an ITAM repository. For the purposes of this review, the real strength of eTelligent is their approach to software request and internal charging of software.
Managing ‘Back Channel’
eTelligent’s model is based on the following:
- An organization’s software request process should be as seamless and frictionless as possible
- Software should be available at a competitive price compared to alternative sources of supply
These two concepts prevent what eTelligent term ’Back Channel’; the sourcing of software from anywhere else but IT. If users can gain access to competitively priced software and believe in the delivery mechanism, they’ll have no reason to go anywhere else. As I’ve mentioned before, the Apple App Store is a heavily locked down and regulated environment – but wins based on elegance of execution.
Developing an Internal Market for Software
eTelligent believe the key to driving internal organizational change with regards to managing software is via an internal market, money talks (If you are considering charge back or show back as part of your ITAM program I recommend checking out some of the resources provided by Brett Husselbaugh of eTelligent).
1) Trading is based on authorizations not entitlement
Internal trading of software is based on authorizations not entitlement – this is an important concept to wrap your head around if you want to turn ITAM into a profit centre. If I make a request for a copy of Microsoft Project to my line manager and it is approved, I can place that authorization on ITAM to fulfill. My department will be charged accordingly. I’ll get charged for that authorization; regardless of whether ITAM has stock or not. The difference between actual entitlement and authorizations allows the ITAM department to make a profit.
2) No false economy on reclaimed software
The organization is actively encouraged to part with unused software, and is financially motivated to do so. However, departments are only credited for returning software if there is demand for that software. For example, if I want to return my copy of Microsoft Project I will only receive a credit for it if someone else has an authorization for it. Crediting users for removing crusty old software that nobody needs anymore would create a false economy and would bankrupt ITAM as a profit centre.
3) Trading on the margin
Returning to my request to my line manager for Microsoft Project; my line manager will be charged for Microsoft Project at a rate sufficiently discounted to make him want to come to IT rather than ‘Back channel’ of sourcing him itself, but not so heavily discounted to take advantage of the full volume discounts of the ITAM team as a whole or any surpluses. The ITAM team can work on the margin between the two. These two income sources for the ITAM team (trading on authorizations and the margin on price) allow ITAM to not only justify – but pay for it’s existence and accrue a surplus to hedge against adverse software audit charges.
Continual Service Improvement
eTelligent believe in helping clients with organizational change within their service rather than leaving it to the client to figure out in isolation. For me this is an important differentiator in picking a SAM Managed Service provider partner.
They have a smart onboarding and reference architecture to support their managed service. Clients are actively encouraged to develop a prioritized ‘Managed Software List’ to focus their efforts and business planning includes ‘Value Analysis’ which aims to forecast the potential financial value to be created by the ITAM function.
- The eTelligent SaaS solution does not include any software recognition. So once you have chosen your preferred software suppliers to manage you’ll need to ‘Train’ the system to recognize them.
- The main focus for eTelligent’s review and customer references was desktop and volume titles via a software request process. Their solution does include a ‘Complex Licensing Analyzer’ for management of complex datacenter licensing metrics but this has limited adoption with their customer so far.
- Limited market penetration
eTelligent is a specialist boutique service offering a highly customized offering for clients. They have a strong foundation and methodology but have yet to see significant take up of their service. With some increased exposure and positioning I would expect to see considerable growth.
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About Martin Thompson
Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.
On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.
Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.