User management has been around within the ITAM and IT space for a while now, but with the introduction of cloud-based subscription user licensing it has taken on a new importance.
What is User Management?
We believe that user management is the effective management of user accounts (that relate to software licenses) throughout their lifecycle. Now, with subscription based licensing metrics, the lifecycle may be on going, with licenses renewed every year or three years. However, user management relates to ensuring that users have the correct license type, have the correct software installed on their device and finally that when they leave the license is reclaimed so the license can be deployed to another user.
User management also allows organisations to monitor the frequency in which a user logs on to, or accesses certain pieces of software or data. Through UM, organisations can monitor what data and software users can see, how much of it they can see, and whether they have full rights within the software or to edit any data. This helps to increase the overall security as it focuses on the ‘need to know’ basis, and it can help simplify deployment processes for new software or technologies.
Why is it now important?
It has always been important to manage user accounts, but it may not necessarily be a part of ITAM. It may have been a service management function, HR function or a security function. However, now with the majority of software vendors moving towards a user based, cloud based, subscription based licensing metric it is important that user management falls under the ITAM function to enable license compliancy and optimisation is met.
User Management Technologies
Firstly, it is important to mention that some SAM and ITSM solutions do provide you with the ability to manage your users effectively through User Management. Our opinion is that ITSM solutions ‘do it better’ than SAM solutions, but they can’t see the relation between the user account and a software license. If your organisation has an existing solution, and they are planning to increase there UM capabilities in the near future to accommodate cloud, user based licensing, then it is worth managing user accounts the best you can until the next update.
However, if you do not have a system in place, or are looking for a specialist UM solution, then there are a number of different options on the market. There are options like identify management solutions, or simple user governance technologies that can help assist an organisation with the management of their user accounts, in conjunction with a SAM or license management solution.
Vendors that provide such licensing metrics also offer their own solutions for helping you manage user accounts and licenses for their software. This is usually in the form of an online portal, or via regular reports. These reports can then be a source of data that gives the organisation the ability to analyse entitlement vs installation within their estate. Fortunately, with cloud/subscription user licenses, the license will actually stop a user installing the software on more devices than their entitlement, but this does not stop the miss-use of the software or not using it within the parameters of the software contract.
Benefits of User Management
Effective user management can help organisations ensure that they are maintaining their user based license compliancy, and helps with the transparency of user-based licenses. It is important to ensure that user based licenses, like Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud, are used effectively and to their full potential.
User management can also help organisations save money on software licenses. For example, understanding how many devices a user has activated under their license will help the organisation to understand how many more instances or devices they can install the software on. So, with that in mind, if a user was to request a copy of Office 365 for a mobile device, as well as their laptop, desktop and phone, the organisation can identify that the user still has 2 out of their 5 activations remaining, thus no new license is required.
User management can also help organisations plan for future software budgets and identify where potential software spends will be in the future. Through effective user management, budget holders can identify which area’s (users) of the business will require certain licenses, and when. This will also allow the organisation to identify when users no longer require a certain piece of software, so that the license can be recycled or placed into a ‘licensing pool’.
User management can also help organisations be more proactive when it comes to the starts, movers and leavers’ process. By managing users effectively, organisations can ensure that there is minimal disruption to new users, movers within the organisation, and that a leavers device and software is reclaimed by IT, thus freeing up valuable ITAM assets.
If your organisation has moved towards a cloud based licensing model, how do you manage your user accounts? As we are all aware, the likes of Microsoft and Oracle are now based on user cloud based licensing, with the license attached to a user account or user ID.
Please share your experiences with us and leave a comment below! If you need help or advice with your user management, please feel free to get in contact with us.