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Technology Review: Spider Licence Enterprise (brainwaregroup)

Independent Review

spider+brainware_titelbrainwaregroup is a provider of systems management and IT Lifecycle Management tools and services who have over 400 clients worldwide. With more than 1.5m managed clients, brainwaregroup’s software has been implemented in a number of organisations over the past 25 years.

This review takes a look at the core capabilities, the route to market, competitive strengths and weaknesses, product development roadmap and market reach of brainwaregroup’s Spider Licence Enterprise offering.

Customers have the option of implementing Spider Licence Enterprise as a SaaS (software as a service) solution, or on-premise.

Summary of key findings 

Strengths Weaknesses
[icon name=”check” class=””] SAM Administration Tasks feature which guides you through using the tool [icon name=”close” class=””] GUI is too text based and not interactive enough
[icon name=”check” class=””] Ability to override data if inaccurate [icon name=”close” class=””] Reporting weaker than competitors
[icon name=”check” class=””] Number of different data sources can be used
[icon name=”check” class=””] No data update job required, so downtime for updated data is not an issue  
[icon name=”check” class=””] Asset management data reporting is strong, provides a lot of hardware information on both the desktop and server environments  

PRIMARY MARKET FOCUS

brainwaregroup have two markets they focus on:

Small and Medium Customers who are looking for an integrated solution of Systems management, Asset-, Licence-, and Contract management – all in one solution.

  • Management of all company IT & non-IT assets
  • Full Contract management; not just limited to licence contracts

Enterprise Customers: Global Licence management with key points on recharging of licences in a global operating company.

Business partners are typically local and global Licence Solution Providers such as SoftwareONE, Insight, Comparex, etc. brainwaregroup has historically been based on a hybrid business model with a significant amount of direct business in Germany and Switzerland. The UK subsidiary has a channel only focus and is currently recruiting more local partners.

Analysis

The SAM Administration Tasks feature provides the SAM practitioner with a set of standardised tasks that need to be followed to work towards generating a true compliance view in the system. brainwaregroup claims that Spider Licence can help you through the process of entering licences in the system and processing them accordingly so that you can follow a tried and tested process driven approach to SAM. For example, importing your Microsoft licence information will be assisted by the SAM Administration Tasks feature to ensure that you are entering the correct licence types and licence terms.

We feel as though this is a key positive feature within Spider Licence Enterprise. We liked the fact that the solution can help guide its users through the correct processes to ensure that they utilise all of the tool’s features. This will help ensure Spider Licence Enterprise is a valuable asset to the organisation and the user; and will help towards the overall tasks and goals of an ITAM project.

brainwaregroup maintains that Spider Licence has the ability to override the recognition of applications on devices, the number of licences required or the type of licence required according to what the SAM consultant needs to show. Furthermore, brainwaregroup claims this feature has the ability to help the end user rectify any incorrect licence types or data that has been fed into the solution from external discovery sources.

The ITAM Review believes that this feature can be a positive aspect to Spider Licence Enterprise, but a note of caution. Having the ability to manually override data could be useful when licence metrics change, but it could also be damaging if the user making the changes has inaccurate information. We believe this feature to be useful for any bespoke contracts or unique deals that may have different licence metrics or terms from the norm.
brainwaregroup states Spider Licence can connect to any number of data sources that are available in SQL databases, Excel spread sheets, XML forms or simple CSV. This facility means that if businesses have already invested in a tool to collect inventory data from all their systems, Spider Licence leverages this and gives them the facility to centralise and standardise this data in a tool designed for end to end licence, contract and asset management.

We believe that good, reliable data is the core foundation of any ITAM project. We liked the fact that Spider Licence has the ability to integrate with the data from other solutions, thus giving the end user the opportunity to have a centralised ITAM solution where they can manage their estate. Furthermore, out of the box connectors to LANDESK, SCCM, MAP and FrontRange Discovery further enhance the data and compatibility resources of Spider Licence.

With Spider Licence Enterprise’s unique database system, brainwaregroup claims there is no need for ‘downtime’ to update the information shown within the solution. Other ITAM tools require time each day to update various databases and the frontend tool, but with Spider Licence there is no need to do that.

We believe this is a massive bonus for global organisations, as downtime within an ITAM tool is always a difficult subject. Having to decide when to run the update jobs, which results in ‘downtime’, is always a difficult decision to make, as with global organisations someone somewhere in the world will be impacted and unable to use the solution.

brainwaregroup claims that Spider Licence provides all of the features required to successfully manage your software asset management estate. Along with all the features you’d expect within an ITAM tool, such as usage stats, licence allocation and general software information; Spider also provides the user with legal entity structure awareness and security allowing different users to be given different rights at each level. This in turn means that the user can set compliance and licence views, inventory and contracts views, and other sensitive information to only be seen by those with appropriate permissions. This means compliance, licence management and contract management can be managed on a global scale, or on a departmental/cost centre level.

The ITAM Review liked the parameters that can be set for viewing compliance and data at different levels within the organisation. This will allow department or cost centre heads to have complete visibility and transparency of their individual departments licence compliance, software costs and also financial risks.

Spider Licence Enterprise provides a large amount of hardware asset data. brainwaregroup maintains that Spider Licence has a unique feature in which you can physically see the relationships between servers, networks, virtual and physical machines in the form of a graphical topology. This diagram can then be exported to a file, or printed off for future use or reference. The ITAM Review really liked this unique feature, and feel that this will be useful for both SAM and IT professionals who want to see the relationships between their networks and hardware assets.

Along with IT asset management, Spider also gives users the ability to manage other assets that the organisation owns. This allows departments like facilities to manage their assets, such as company cars, printers, scanners or anything that the organisation defines as an asset. We think that the ability to manage other forms of assets provides extra value to the organisation, and allows them to have a centralised system for managing their assets.

We identified the fact that in order to fully utilise Spider Licence Enterprise, the user will need to purchase additional brainwaregroup modules in order to perform active management of their ITAM estate; for example software distribution, patching, remote control etc. There are a number of external connectors, a separate mobile device management module and a software management module. . These are part of the Columbus product line, which work in conjunction with Spider.

The ITAM Review thought the graphical user interface was undistinguished and complicated. Whilst a lot of the options and menu systems were interactive and ‘clickable’, the overall look and feel left us feeling underwhelmed. There were very few graphs for us to analyse data, the overall look was over complicated and far too word heavy. We believe that an ITAM tool needs to have some form of data analytics on its home pages, such as a graph highlighting compliance or inventory data.

Furthermore, we believe it is important for an ITAM tool to have a clean, tidy and appealing user interface to encourage use of the solution. Tools that have a smart layout, with interactive graphs and menus appear to be easier to use than the type of UI identified by Spider Licence Enterprise. Having an unappealing and complicated looking UI may end up putting users off using the solution, if they feel they can not get the information they need quickly and easily.

We feel as though the compliance reporting aspect of Spider Enterprise Licence is weak compared to competitors. When viewing compliance for various applications, the end user is shown either a red or green box, based on compliance figures. Whilst you can drill down further into this data, it is not as intuititive and easy to navigate as competitors.

With that said, Spider does allow you to see compliance figures for both the desktop and server estate. Compliance reports can be exported easily, and we really liked the fact that you can export a Microsoft Effective Licence Position (ELP) report in the same format that you would be expected to supply to Microsoft themselves.

Key Capabilities 

The table below highlights the key capabilities of Spider Licence Enterprise.

General
  • Web based interface
  • Existing out of the box connectors to LANDESK, SCCM, MAP, FrontRange Discovery & a generic connector
  • Document attachment
  • Legal entity structure awareness and security allowing different users to be given different rights at each level and compliance/licence inventory/contracts to be reported independently at each level or globally.
  • Display of raw data as well as software recognition data available through the web interface
  • Multi-tenant highly scalable cloud solution available for service providers or very large companies looking to provide centralised asset management services to their owned business units or customers.
  • AD connector
  • Single Sign On (SSO) capable

 

Asset Management
  • Cluster/Host/Guest relationship mapping

 

Software Asset Management
  • Metering facilities including Citrix & Remote Desktop Services
  • Automatic upgrades and downgrades of licences
  • Nested contracts management
  • Suite recognition
  • Reminders for contracts, warranties, or specific items (such as assets or licences)
  • Microsoft Licence Statement (MLS) import functionality
  • Unrecognised applications can be delivered back to the Recognition Centre (RC) for further analysis and recognition definitions.

 

Go-To Market Strategy

Business Partner Summary

Key Business Partners
  • SoftwareONE

Market Penetration

Number of customers
  • 5 million devices

 

Typical Customer
  • Large enterprise

brainwaregroup states the cost of Spider Licence Enterprise can range from £5000 – £400,000. Maintenance is 20% of the licence cost in the case of perpetual licences or otherwise included for subscription models. This includes the possibility to upgrade to the latest version of the software as well as support delivered according to support agreements via e-mail, web sessions, instant messaging and telephone.

Implementation

Typical installation

brainwaregroup’s claimed typical installation is between 0.5 – 1 day for cloud based solutions and 3 – 5 days for on-premise solutions (dependent on the number and type of data sources being used).

Time to value

Compared to its competitors, Spider Licence Enterprise has quite a lengthy installation period. Within IT, 3-5 days for implementation is a long time. We believe that this installation time needs to be improved upon if Spider Licence Enterprise is to compete with its competitors.

Resources Required

brainwaregroup states a Windows Server instance with SQL Server and IIS is required for installation.

Product Roadmap

Future releases of Spider Licence Enterprise include:

  • 12/2014: Completed Integration of Software Recognition module data source extensions and multi mandator (customer ID) web service interface for Columbus.
  • These features will allow brainwaregroup to release their new Managed Workplace offering for middle size customers on itm2go.com, which will allow mid –size corporations to link their client management environment with a Hosted SaaS environment with Asset-, Licence-, Contract-, Change and Incident Management by 2/2015.
  • Q2/2015 will then bring a further extension of Inventory Connectors for 3rd Party systems such as ADDM, iQuate and other datacentre players – extending ‘out-of the box’ abilities for datacentre-focused customers.
  • Q4/2015 Releases will bring up extended open interfaces for OEMs and Integrators to use the Spider Core engine for backend processing while using customer centric UI integration services.

brainwaregroup maintains that the roadmap aims to combine the extreme configuration flexibility available today for individual on premise installations with standardized ‘out-of-the-box’ hosted offerings for mid-size and small customers which today simply can not afford a high quality Licence Management Solution due to complexity and project cost. Furthermore, brainwaregroup claims the new solutions will come with simplified UI as well as out of the box 3rd party inventory connectors and will be available in easy to use hosted environments at reduced cost.

Product Portfolio

Brainwaregroup provide a number of different products and suites:

Columbus: Software Management

  • Patch management
  • Operating system and software management
  • Inventory and observation
  • Data backup and rescue/restoration

Columbus Mobile Management

  • Mobile application management
  • Security applications
  • Email access control
  • Mobile delivery options

Spider IT Management

  • IT Asset Management
  • Licence Management / Software asset management
  • Portals / Process automations
  • Incidents and helpdesk assistance

Spider Contract Management

  • Transparency and compliance
  • Risk management
  • Contract consolidation
  • Legal and commercial contracts management

Active Linkage with brainwaregroup’s other suites: Columbus Client Management –capable of delivering ‘End-To-End’ Client & Server Lifecycle Management as a single vendor solution

Further Resources

Company Information

brainwaregroup is a leading provider of systems management and IT Lifecycle Management tools and services who have over 400 clients worldwide. With more than 1.5m managed clients, brainwaregroup’s software has been the tool of choice for many large organisations for over 25 years.

Customers split by region:

Germany, Austria, Switzerland: 90%
USA: 2%
UK: 4%
Japan: 1%
South Africa: 2%
Others: 1%

Vendor Profile

In their own words:

“Brainwaregroup is a leading provider of systems management and IT Lifecycle Management tools and services who have over 400 clients worldwide. With more than 1.5m managed clients, brainwaregroup’s software has been the tool of choice for many large organisations for over 25 years. Our suite of products comprises complete solutions to cover everything from systems management and deployment of desktops and servers, through to mobile device and remote support capabilities. All of these capabilities are underpinned by a set of asset, licence and contract management products designed for even the toughest demands in the industry to allow the benefits of a solid out of the box solution that can be tailored to fit the needs of any enterprise.

Our Spider suite of products offer web-delivered applications with a familiar easy to use interface that are tailored towards helping customers deliver business information quickly. Spider Asset, Licence & Contract have provided general asset, ITAM & contracts management to enterprise customers for over 15 years by delivering best of breed functionality through a highly extensible and customisable framework.

Our Columbus suite of products deliver device provisioning and management capabilities to give companies the control and optimised delivery of services and applications to their end users and service consumers quickly and efficiently. Whether a Linux server needs to be provisioned, a Windows client needs software to be deployed or an iPad needs to be managed; Columbus has the modules necessary to manage every eventuality”.

Contact details

brainwaregroup Contact Details
Head Office
  • Switzerland
Regional Offices
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • South Africa
  • Japan
Details
    • Tel: +44 203 636 8600
    • sales.uk@brainwaregroup.com

 

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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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