The ITAM Review

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SAP License and User Management Group Test – Snow Software

This independent review is part of our SAP Tool Review.

Also participating are:

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Snow Optimizer for SAP® Software is a powerful SAP user management solution. It provides users with the ability to manage SAP users and see how they are using SAP applications. The solution monitors the active use of SAP software by all types of users so that SAP administrators can identify the correct license types for users, and see the financial investment and risk they have in SAP licenses throughout their estate.Snow Optimizer for SAP Software helps users to manage the active use of SAP software, through all types of SAP users.
Strengths
  • Ease of use managing SAP users
  • Helps identify the correct SAP License types for users
  • Really strong data around SAP usage
Weaknesses
  • No SAP contract management feature
  • No SAP license compliancy feature
  • No integration with Snow License Manager
  • Doesn’t look as sleek as other Snow products
  • No support yet for applications like Business Objects
Primary Market Focus
  • Size: Enterprise
  • Use: SAP user management
  • Environment: Organisation with a big investment in SAP applications.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Snow Software
Product Snow Optimizer for SAP Software
Version Reviewed Version 1.3
Date of version release July 1, 2014
Year founded 1997
Customers 40 customers of Snow Optimizer for SAP Software (3,500+ customers of Snow)
Pricing structure Snow Optimizer for SAP Software can be purchased as a perpetual license. A traditional perpetual license has an additional annual maintenance and support figure, and pricing is based on the number of SAP users and interconnected SAP systems.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Ability to manage SAP users natively within SAP
  • Ability to calculate potential risks, and savings within SAP

Independent Review

Snow-Logo

Snow Optimizer for SAP Software is a powerful SAP license optimization solution. It provides administrators with the ability to manage SAP users and see how they are using SAP applications. The solution helps administrators identify the correct license types for users, and see the financial investment and risk they have in SAP licenses throughout their estate.

One of the key elements that we really liked was the ease in which you could manage SAP users. The solution provides administrators with relevant and large amounts of data related to SAP users, the licenses associated with them and what licenses they should be using. We believe that this set of established data provides license managers or SAP administrators firm grounding when making informed decisions on what license types should be deployed, and how much money should be spent on SAP licenses. This also gives the license manager complete visibility on what is actively used within the estate, and which users are making the most out of their investment in SAP.

Furthermore, the solution helps identify the correct SAP license types for users based on their historical usage information. The ITAM Review believe this feature has the ability to cure the ‘who needs what license’ headache for SAP administrators, license managers and SAM practitioners. Assigning the correct SAP licenses is a headache, and ensuring that you don’t over- or underspend on SAP licenses is a complex matter. So to have a solution that can analyse SAP usage, and then identify and recommend what licenses a user should have will make the management of SAP licenses a lot easier, and will also help save money. We also liked the fact that this element still needs human interaction. What we mean by this is that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software will suggest license types, but it’s up to the administrator to make an informed decision based on the data about which license types to give users. Snow will not change anything automatically or without the administrator’s approval.

Hand-in-hand with the above features, the overall usage stats for SAP users were really strong, as you’d expect from a Snow Software product. We liked the fact that you are provided with actual usage stats, run times, last used, first used and average use time. This then gives the administrator the ability to accurately assess their SAP estate and define which users need what license types.

We also liked the ‘scenario’ based financial modelling aspect. This allows the user to see what they are spending on SAP licenses, using data from their environment. They can also see what savings they could make, if they made certain changes to the license metric or removed duplicate/inactive users. The ITAM Review believe that this feature will bring huge amounts of valuable data to the user, for both current SAP license financial planning, but also future SAP license budget estimations. We also believe that having data that shows how much money could, or has been saved on licenses further highlights the need for SAM within an organisation.

We feel that users can export comprehensive SAP user and usage reports from Snow Optimizer for SAP easily and quickly. You can export reports in a number of different formats, including Excel, CSV and PDF. We liked the fact that the reports are easy to generate, and then easy to understand once exported from the solution. This will allow administrators the opportunity to generate and analyse SAP reports effectively and efficiently, and then send them on to other stakeholders if required.

We found that the inability to manage SAP contracts within the solution to be an issue. A general SAM or software-licensing user would rather have all of their SAP data ‘under one roof’, rather than having to switch between systems for the same software vendor. Not having the ability to view or manage your SAP contracts within a SAP module seems to be a bit of an oversight, as other SAP modules from competitors offers the opportunity to effectively manage contract documentation.

Furthermore, the fact that you cannot see your current license position for SAP is another downfall. We believe that as a SAM or software licensing manager, users will want to see how many SAP licenses they purchased at the last agreement or true-up for comparison with what is currently installed within the estate. Not having the ability to do so means users will have to constantly switch between the solution and wherever they store their SAP contract. From what we have seen from competitors, they offer the option to import your existing SAP licenses and contracts.

During the review Snow stated that there is currently no integration with Snow License Manager, and that the Snow Optimizer for SAP Software is to be considered an external solution. By using this method you can make changes directly within SAP, but by Snow’s own admission this is more for use by SAP professionals rather than SAM or software licensing professionals. If you are a Snow License Manager user and are thinking of integrating the two systems, then you are going to have to wait. Snow has stated that integration between the two systems is part of their road map.

We also felt that the GUI (general user interface) was poor compared to competitors. However, this is because you can access the SAP data directly in SAP, which may be of some use to SAP license managers. However, having seen competitors offerings we feel that using a SAP add-on within an existing product (same GUI as any existing SAM solutions) will be more beneficial to SAM and license managers than having to use an external solution with a different interface.

Finally, the solution doesn’t yet provide support for SAP based applications like Business Objects, but Snow have advised us that this feature is coming in Q1 of 2015. Having the ability to manage such applications will only add to the strengths of Snow Optimizer for SAP Software.

 

SAP License Management

Snow states that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software can help users manage their SAP licenses through the solution. Snow states that the solution has a ‘control dashboard’ and an ‘active warnings‘ feature that helps users in the license management process. This allows the SAP license management team to see any breaches of compliancy or any abnormal usage/information.

Furthermore, Snow states that SAP licensing can be based on a number of different metrics, but the main metric is the number of SAP users in a system. Snow says that the solution can provide the information required to keep a record of the number of users within an organisation’s SAP estate. Snow states that this is done by controlling duplications, highlighting inactive users and also ensuring the user has the right data to decide on the right license metric for a user. Snow believes that by defining the usage profiles of the license types within SAP, the SAP license management team can try and ‘fit’ as many users with inexpensive licenses as possible.

Snow maintains that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software helps users capture a comprehensive view of an enterprise organisation’s entire SAP estate. Snow states that this includes licenses, users and actual usage. Snow claims that this gives users the ability to analyse SAP licenses throughout their lifecycle, and give users the ability to retire and recycle SAP licenses that are duplicates, not in use or assigned to the wrong user.

Snow states that the solution can help users optimize their SAP licenses. Snow maintains that the solution can help customers identify the correct SAP license type for each user based on historical usage information and behaviours.

Also, Snow states that the solution helps organisations to manage indirect usage activity, thus helping with license compliancy. Snow says the solution also helps assign the correct license types to users, so customers can make cost savings throughout the SAP estate. However, as the ITAM Review have noted, you cannot manage compliancy through the add-on solution. You need to manage compliancy and licenses through Snow License Manager.

Snow states that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software can recognise SAP ERP users, modules and engines, along with Business Warehouse. However, the solution cannot recognise Business Objects yet, but Snow states that is due for release in Q1 2015.

Snow maintains that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software can help SAP users with:

  • A baseline inventory of the SAP environment
  • Analysis and optimization to help manage SAP users
  • Management of custom SAP license types
  • The ability to change SAP information within SAP itself.

Snow recognises the importance of managing SAP licenses, both from a compliancy perspective but also from a cost perspective. The ITAM Review believes that the solution provides enough data and information for organisations to effectively manage their SAP users, and also manage spend on SAP licenses.

 

Managing SAP Users

Inactive

Whenever a user executes anything through SAP, it invokes the SPA API and usually a transaction code. SAP then captures all of this information for each user, including every millisecond of time for each module, every transaction executed and every read/write scenario. Snow claim that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software aggregates this data and complements it with half a dozen other data sources of usage. Also used in HR and personal data so that creates a more comprehensive view of a user’s SAP activities.

Snow Software states the solution then isolates provisioned users that have not logged in for a prolonged period of time (i.e 90 or 180 days) and can alter the status of those licensees. This is how Snow Optimizer for SAP Software manages and determines inactive SAP users.

Duplicate

Snow maintains that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software uses a rules engine, which is the core programmable extension to the solution. The rules engine has a number of duplicate analysis rules that helps group users with the same details such as email address, last and first name and logon ID. The rules engine can also look for duplications based on other sources of information, such as phone numbers or system nicknames.

However, a human must review and analyse the duplications rather than letting the solution carry out any automated actions. Snow states the Snow Optimizer for SAP Software does this as there may be valid reasons for duplication, and no solution can fully assess and automate something that is in an algorithm. This allows the user to make a conscious decision on what would be best for the business in regards to duplicate SAP users.

License Types

Snow states that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software compiles all of the usage stats and activity for each user across all SAP systems within the organisation. Snow continues to argue that the solution accumulates a range of data sets; such as CPU time spent in each module, SAP transactions (and SAP t-code) carried out by each use. Based on this data, the SAP license analyser can determine which SAP license the user needs based on the usage and behaviour states.

Snow maintains that users can define the correct SAP license type by using specially determined using sophisticated algorithms. The user must first define ‘usage profiles’ for the different SAP license types (such as Limited Professional, Professional, Developer etc). The ‘usage profiles’ define what actions users can and cannot do, based on user type. If a user “complies’ with the usage profile behaviour for a select period of time (six months, nine months, a year), then the solution makes a recommendation to change the license type to the one corresponding to the usage profile.

 

Indirect Usage

Snow states Snow Optimizer for SAP Software has the ability to manage indirect usage. The solution does this by looking to isolate any unusual usage patters that may be evidence of indirect access violations. For example this could be a very long and prolonged work period for a certain user; an extraordinary amount of work being delivered by a user; or the same user operating SAP applications concurrently from multiple locations, each carrying out different activity.

Snow claims the solution uses three primary types of behaviour undertaken by named users when establishing indirect usage. They are:

  1. Extraordinary work load, normally a factor of what others are doing
  2. Very long work days, most times 24+ hours of continuous work
  3. Concurrent execution of transactions from multiple machines simultaneously

Snow maintains that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software has an “Activity check” charts that ‘red lights issues’ that will very likely arise from an audit.

 

In Summary

The ITAM Review believes that Snow Optimizer for SAP Software is one of the strongest solutions on the market today for managing SAP users. The only issue we have is that fact that you cannot manage your SAP contract or compliancy within the solution, but you can with some competitors.

That said, it is a fantastic solution for managing SAP users, and provides an awful lot of data and information to ensure the correct licenses are assigned to the correct users. If you have an investment in SAP, and already have Snow License Manager then it’s a no brainer. If you have another SAM solution, but are looking for a SAP module then you still need to consider Snow whilst looking at all of the alternatives.

 

In Their Own Words

“For organizations that rely on SAP to power their mission critical business systems, it represents one of their largest IT expenditures. Yet few have full visibility of their SAP estate or the means to intelligently manage their SAP licensing.
Snow Optimizer for SAP Software helps bring visibility, manageability and accountability to the enterprise SAP license environment:

  • Baseline inventory of SAP environment
  • Analysis and optimization tools that help manage and control the number of SAP users
  • Custom-fit SAP license types based on actual historic usages of the product
  • Written in SAP native language – ABAP, agentless deployment
  • SAP-certified solution

SPEED UP INVENTORY & ANALYSIS
Snow Optimizer for SAP Software captures a comprehensive view of an enterprise’s entire SAP license environment, including all licenses, users and actual usage. Powerful analysis and optimization tools can be used to detect and retire/ recycle SAP licenses that are erroneous, inactive, duplicate or obsolete. This helps enterprises keep tighter control over their license inventory, SAP procurement and on-going costs.

OPTIMIZE SAP LICENSING
Following usage optimization, Snow Optimizer for SAP Software can then custom-fit or “right-size” each SAP license type to each individual user based on their actual historic behaviour. Finally, it allows organizations to monitor compliance for indirect usage activity and assigned license types. So for the first time, enterprises can bring a new level of manageability, efficiency and accountability to its usage of SAP resources.

DRIVE BOTTOM-LINE COST SAVINGS
Snow Optimizer for SAP Software provides the invaluable insight and transparency required to understand what has been purchased, what has been deployed, what is actually being used, and how to get the most from that investment. This actionable intelligence helps organizations drive real cost savings across the SAP estate”

 

Links from the Vendor

• Product overview page: http://www.snowsoftware.com/int/products/snow-optimizer-sapr-software
• Product sheet PDF: http://www.snowsoftware.com/int/documents/data-sheet-snow-sap-optimizer
• Proof of Concept contact form: http://www.snowsoftware.com/int/sap

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About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!

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