The ITAM Review

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Microsoft License Management Group Test – The Results

Overview – Microsoft License Management Group Test

It is sometimes said by Software Asset Management (SAM) experts that Microsoft is an ideal software publisher to tackle first when reconciling your software estate. The breadth of devices and systems Microsoft touches and depth of data required; from desktop to server, mobile device to virtual machine, means that any organization performing a good reconciliation of Microsoft stands in good stead for tackling other publishers.

With this in mind we set out to review some leading SAM tools to see what they brought to the table in terms of technology for managing Microsoft.

Tools Assessed:

A high level overview of our assessment criteria is as follows:

Criteria – High Level Overview

  • How are instances of Microsoft products discovered or inventoried? (I.e. do you provide inventory, what sources do you work with etc.?)
  • How do you filter Microsoft configuration detail to arrive at information useful for license management?
  • Describe or list any features that aid Microsoft product family recognition or identification of Microsoft suite components
  • What Microsoft licensing types can your solution manage?
  • How does your solution work with statements of entitlement provided by Microsoft?
  • Describe any features relevant to managing Microsoft in virtual environments (Virtual machine, streaming, terminal services etc.)
  • What features aid customers ensure they are spending the least possible with Microsoft whilst maintaining compliance and avoiding shelf ware?
  • Describe features that allow customers to manage Microsoft contracts and agreements and prepare for true ups?

We were looking for tools that took away some of the heavy lifting and Spreadsheet crunching when managing Microsoft:

  • Taking multiple data feeds from different inventory sources and enterprise systems to gather a single version of the truth
  • Sifting through the enormous amount of configuration detail generated by systems such as SCCM to focus on the details that matter – The Microsoft titles that require a license and the product use rights for that particular install
  • Grouping Microsoft titles into logical suites and product families to aid the reconciliation process
  • Helping identify redundancy and overlap so organizations can reduce waste
  • Expose license shortfalls so organizations can remove risk
  • Deal with the myriad of Microsoft license types
  • Deal with the myriad of devices and systems where Microsoft technology resides
  • Working with statements generated by Microsoft
  • Working with Microsoft Contracts and Agreements

Comparing Apples with Apples

  • Aspera, Brainware and Snow Software offer a broad set of license management features for Microsoft license management. The ITAM Review considers these providers as leading SAM tools and recommends shortlisting these technologies when selecting a SAM tool.
  • 1E is focussed on license reclamation and is not considered a full SAM tool

Best in Class – Aspera SmartTrack

  • We selected Aspera’s SmartTrack as Best in Class for managing Microsoft licensing. SmartTrack has best in class features for reducing risk and supporting efficient spend in large Microsoft estates. SmartTrack also has extensive capabilities for managing Microsoft license models, agreement types and the nuances of Microsoft licensing on the desktop, datacentre and virtual environments.
  • Brainware and Snow Software also have strong offerings for managing Microsoft software with impressive features for getting to grips with Microsoft. 1E, whilst not a fully rounded SAM tool, is a pioneer in removal of unused desktop software.
Microsoft Review Scoring

1E

Aspera

Brainware

Snow Software

General features that aid Microsoft license management

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Microsoft Software Recognition

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Microsoft Product Family and Suite Recognition

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Management of Microsoft Licensing Types

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Efficient Microsoft Spending (low risk, no waste)

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Microsoft Contracts Management

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Key

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Strong

Market leader
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Good

Well executed and competitive offering
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OK

Adequate, meets requirements
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Weak

Poorly or partially executed
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Absent

Missing key requirements

 

Strengths

Weaknesses

1E
  • Pioneer in reclaim of unused desktop licenses in a user friendly fashion
  • Intuitive interface with business focussed reporting
  • Partial coverage of Microsoft licensing types
  • Microsoft SCCM focussed as a data source
  • Reporting only – limited license records and contracts management
Aspera
  • Best in class license management features for reducing risk and supporting efficient spend in large Microsoft estates
  • Extensive capabilities for managing license models, agreement types and the nuances of Microsoft licensing on the desktop, datacentre and virtual environments.
  • Priced per qualified desktop. No complex pricing for different publishers.
  • Global presence and partner network not as extensive as competitors, being addressed by Aspera
  • No in-house inventory, but exhaustive list of inventory sources and enterprise data sources to connect with.
Brainware
  • Strong competitive offering for inventory and license management of Microsoft for small to large enterprises
  • Comprehensive coverage of Microsoft license types, devices and platforms
  • Datacentre, Virtual and Desktop coverage for Microsoft titles
  • Microsoft product use rights calculations and software assurance management
  • Historically focussed in Central Europe –it would be good to see implementation support and market participation in other major markets
  • Interface perhaps not as slick as others in this review
Snow Software
  • Intuitive and easy to understand interface
  • Breadth of coverage in Microsoft license types, products and devices
  • VDI, Virtual and Datacentre coverage
  • Microsoft Product use rights and automatic optimization
  • Reporting weaker than competitors in this review – especially providing recommended actions for Software Asset Managers rather than just data.
  • Contracts and financial management elements weaker than competitors in this review.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses Summary

1E

Aspera

Brainware

Snow Software

Environment
  • Desktops

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  • Datacentre

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Key market focus
  • Small

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  • Medium

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  • Large

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SKU Catalogue

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User based licensing

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CALS

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Tools Assessed:

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created. Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed. Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study. The ITAM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

For further information, please read our Disclosure page.

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About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

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 the Chief Agitator at the Campaign for Clear Licensing, a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the SAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770 and board member of Free ICT Europe which supports the ICT secondary market.

Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

3 Comments

  1. Some good vendors in the list but of course when it comes to Microsoft there are many to choose from.

    I’d be interested to understand how these products scored in the following areas:

    1. Datacentre Licesning(SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, etc)
    2. Normalising & deduplicating software titles
    3. Calculating upgrade and downgrade rights
    4. Software Last Used details

    You are correct to differentiate between native inventory and using another source, especially given SCCM is so widely used

    Interesting comparison all the same

  2. Teddy Monin says:

    Hi Martin,
    And what do you think about Flexera and iQuate ?
    Thanks
    Teddy.

  3. Hi Teddy

    It would have been good to add Flexera into this review, perhaps we can add them at a later date. They certainly would be a competitive offering to the others in this review.

    We have a review of iQuate due out shortly. A strong datacentre inventory solution – but not a full Microsoft license management solution.

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