The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

ITAM in the Cloud Era

In the lead up to our global Conferences, owner and founder of The ITAM Review – Martin Thompson posed the following discussion points to our Conference Sponsor experts:

‘What will the world of ITAM look like in a future of hybrid cloud, internet connected devices and unknown future innovations hitting the IT department?’

and

‘How will the current IT trends shape the future IT department and what must IT Asset Management professionals do to prepare for the transformation?’

Here are their responses:

Tom Canning, VP of Enterprise Solutions, Flexera

ITAM has to continue to evolve along with these changes in the market. This means that ITAM teams must take on new areas of responsibility. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), whether its public, private or hybrid cloud, requires management to control costs. It’s the new Hardware Asset Management in some respects. If you are using Amazon Web Services, for example, do you have the right mix of cloud instances? Are you maximizing utilization of those instances?

Amazon has a couple of basic types—On-Demand and Reserved instances. Too much On-Demand usage instead of Reserved instance usage means you are spending more than you should, especially if you have consistent workloads. Reserved instances can get you a discount of about 75% over On-Demand instances. On the other hand, you don’t want to have excess, unused Reserved capacity, since that would also be a waste of money. With Reserved instances, you are committing to a certain capacity that you will pay for whether you use it or not.

ITAM teams also need to closely manage SaaS applications. Spend management, just as in the case of IaaS, is critical. As many people have noted previously, SaaS typically reduces your license compliance risk. That’s because you usually have, in the case of user based subscriptions for SaaS apps, a login for each named user. So, it’s hard to over-deploy and have a compliance issue. But it’s not impossible. There can be geographic restrictions on your subscriptions, for example, that your organization must to adhere to. While your compliance risk is lower, cost risk is still high.

SaaS apps like Office 365 have many different plan levels with different price points for each. It’s important for your organization to select the right plan level to best meet user needs at the lowest cost. You also have to manage subscriptions so that when users leave or change job functions, you have an efficient process for reharvesting those licenses and reallocating them to other users.

 

IT Asset Management professionals are in a key position in today’s enterprises that are going through the “digital transformation” process. The cloud is an important element of digital transformation. Hence, managing the cloud is also critical. For this reason, ITAM has become a strategic function of the business.

ITAM teams must also work collaboratively with IT Security to enhance the security posture of the business. This is another important aspect of digital transformation and living in a digital world. You have to have strong security. Collaboration across teams enables your organization to have an effective security patch management process, for example.

The research shows how critical it is for companies to be able to identify software vulnerabilities in their IT environment, prioritize those vulnerabilities based on criticality ratings from organizations such as Secunia Research, and remediate them to mitigate security risk.

ITAM professionals must work to build these relationships with other functional areas of the business. They must also continue to expand their area of expertise and responsibilities within their organizations to enable the digital enterprise.

 

Mathias Vianden, Head of Development, Aspera 

The ITAM world will become increasingly diverse in the future of hybrid cloud. Most importantly, vendors, tools, platforms, and methods will start “popping up” even more quickly than they do today. Right now, a lot of IT departments are already struggling to keep up with fast paced technology changes. Slow response times, overly complicated processes, and management pressures will drive the transition to cloud services over traditional IT.

However, we’ll also see that some large enterprises will establish their own “cloud infrastructures” using technologies like OpenShift, Kubernetes, and Docker Swarm do keep up. But, managing software assets on flexible hosts and adhering “old” licenses models will prove challenging. Increasingly, non-IT departments will use more software as a service (SaaS) to address their specific needs. ITAM departments must proactively be responsible for consolidating the data from these SaaS solutions, providing invaluable insights for improved contract negotiation, as well as for license utilization amongst a variety of different cloud instances (e.g. salesforce organizations “orgs”).

Quite simply, IT departments will need to improve their flexibility, agility and speed. In the future, software assets will flow more freely and ITAM professionals need to set up the most effective tools and processes to track assets.

Maintaining compliance will grow more complex as licensing conditions evolve. It’s critical that ITAM professionals address these challenges now in their upcoming contract renewal negotiations. They should be aware of, and include container technologies like Docker in their contracts (on top of existing virtualization).

In order to consolidate SaaS solutions, ITAM departments need to find out exactly what is used accessing technical data of the various SaaS solutions deployed. To properly support their efforts, ITAM will need tools that are capable of analyzing larger quantities of independent cloud instances.

 

Julian Devlin, VP of Product Development, Sassafras

The allure of Cloud is the promise of simplicity, instant setup, and a lack of maintenance liability. However with an excess of virtualization and cloud technologies comes a profusion of configuration choices and licensing subtleties.

On the one hand it is so simple to spin up a new cloud VM that there’s no barrier to action. On the other hand it is all too easy to act without careful forethought. Software vendors write licensing terms full of illogical caveats and exceptions, presumably over the fear that cloud technologies will somehow precipitate incomparable efficiencies. It becomes difficult to so much as take note of these provisions, let alone analyze how they apply to a particular hybrid cloud environment.

Given the dichotomy of complex licensing terms that make any virtualization or cloud environment hard to understand, and the reality that one of the main benefits of the cloud is flexibility and agility, what is to come of Software Licensing in the Cloud Era? SAM practitioners will expend countless time and resources attempting to learn and account for licensing subtleties, until they demand simpler licensing.

Whereas physical computers are static to an extent, the purpose of cloud is to be dynamic, highly adaptable, and frequently changing. The idea that software licensing terms restrict the frequency of changes is entirely at odds with the reality of a hybrid cloud. At some point, the objective of cloud will mandate dramatic changes to software licensing terms.

Imagine, at a more obvious level, that you bought software that was not allowed to be used with the latest operating systems. This would not be a tenable agreement – consumers would demand change. Likewise, with the reality that cloud technologies are everywhere, SAM practitioners will demand licensing terms which are simpler and more sensible.

The idea that the physical host matters to licensing of software on a VM, or worse yet that software on one VM somehow dictates a liability for other VMs is absurd. As cloud environments become commonplace, these licensing clauses will no longer be tolerated. Constraints to specific virtualization technologies are too arbitrary and discongruous to survive in the world of commoditized cloud computing. And finally, restrictions on frequency of redployment are an arcane construct left over from a time when installation of services actually meant something. Now the entire objective of hybrid cloud is to allow for flexibility and adaptation – the concept that one VM is uniquely distinguished from the next is entirely foreign.

The only sensible way to offer software licensing in the hybrid cloud is on the basis of Concurrently Provisioned Services. In a nutshell, measure licensing by the cloud instances actively provisioning software at any point in time. Optionally, calculate licensing based on cores or sockets within each VM. But stick with a measure of actively provisioned VMs, without regard for what type of cloud technology is in force, what things looked like last week, or what physical or virtual environment lies beyond the particular virtual server where software is installed.

 

Tim Jesser, Product Marketing Manager, Snow Software

Cloud deployed technology has become mainstream. According to Gartner’s Current State of Cloud Office and What to Do About It report, published in November of 2016, by 2021, more than 70 percent of business users will be substantially provisioned with cloud office capabilities.

What does is mean for the IT department? IT will see its control over technology spending dwindle as cloud enables business units to take responsibility of their own IT spend. Gartner projects that by 2020, 50 percent of technology spend will occur outside the IT department, rising from 17 percent today.

This irreversible trend creates what Snow Software calls the Disruption Gap, a gulf between the central IT function and the rest of the business.  The Disruption Gap can be thought of as the delta between what the IT department thinks is true about enterprise technology spending and use and what is actually true.  This gap creates multiple problems including the likelihood of overspend, whether through duplication, missed opportunities for better pricing deals or even software that no one uses.  Most importantly, the Disruption Gap affects the ability of IT leaders to effectively budget or future software spend, putting them in the precarious position of owning something they don’t fully understand, much less control.

Software Asset Management Provides Visibility

Nothing is going to change or reverse the trend of business unit IT and decentralized technology spending. So IT leaders shouldn’t waste time fighting it. Neither should they try to control other people’s spend.  Instead, by using automated discovery within technologies like Software Asset Management, IT leaders puts themselves in the unique positon of being the only person across the company with the big picture. With insight into all areas of the business, the CIO can redefine his/her role from one command and control to influencer.

Knowing about what’s happening on the network and what is being spent on software and services puts ITAM and IT professionals in the perfect position to influence how the organization and individual business units consume software, driving substantial cost savings, efficiency gains and preventing security risks.

Armed with the insight provided by a good Software Asset Management solution, IT becomes the chief broker of IT spend, the go-to group for business units looking to drive the best deals with vendors and the creator of virtual teams across multiple business units with common interests and goals.

Do you agree with the experts responses or have any burning questions? Leave your comments below or even better, attend one our annual conferences addressing the challenges faced on how to manage an ITAM practice in the Cloud Era. 

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About Victoria Kealy

Victoria works as our Events Manager. If you'd like to get in contact with Victoria, you can connect via LinkedIn or via email at victoria@itamreview.com

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