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Software License Optimization Maturity Model: Installation Assessed – Level 1

By Randy Littleson

In this four part series, we’re going to break down the Software License Optimization Maturity Model and discuss what you can achieve at each level of maturity.  This is the first in the series on Installation Assessed – Level 1.

 Level 1 – Installation Assessed – Where is software deployed?

Legacy license models used heavily in traditional Windows applications are simplistic in nature—frequently based on a single user or device per license.  Modern license models, on the other hand, used for more current Windows and many non-Windows applications, particularly server applications, have complex license metrics based on a number of variables, including the underlying hardware characteristics.  As a result, modern license models and most modern applications pose unique challenges throughout the entire maturity model, including:

  • Discovery of application virtualization, streaming, and VDI usage
  • Handling license consumption implications for virtual applications, virtual machines, VDI, partitions, and sub-capacity licenses (e.g. IBM PVU)
  • Identification of processor and partition characteristics for major vendors (IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.)
  • Determining the consumption and usage of enterprise license models for all major publishers, accepted and/or verified by the publisher where possible (e.g. IBM, Oracle)
  • Tracking of usage in a product-specific way that aligns with how the software is monetized (SAP Named User, concurrent / usage-based licensing such as FlexEnabled applications)

In order to manage modern applications, you need to have the ability to leverage advanced installation evidence to first discover and inventory them.  For instance, you should be able to utilize the following approaches/technologies: InstallAnywhere, IBM Installation Manager, Install Stream, Oracle Universal Installer, BEA Installer, ISO tags and vendor-specific (non-ISO) tags.


Illustration-SLO-Process-Maturity-Business-Value v2

Figure 1: The Software License Optimization Maturity Model

The first step in the maturity model is to gather evidence about the hardware and software installed in the IT environment.  Level 1 answers the question “Where is software deployed?”  Most organizations have a good handle on the hardware installed and have tools and processes in place to track hardware through its lifecycle.  Accurately identifying and managing software is much trickier for several reasons.  Unlike hardware, there is no physical asset you can count to determine how much software is installed in the environment.  Organizations must gather and comb through reams of file, registry, package and other data to determine the applications installed on any one machine.  For example, the inventory data on my machine returns around 1,500 executables, but in reality, there are only three software assets on my machine that are interesting to my company – Windows, Adobe Acrobat, and Microsoft Office.

Software licensing models continue to increase in complexity and many today rely on the underlying hardware or business metrics to derive the licensing metrics that drive the model.  Understanding what software you have deployed is now a function of understanding the software and associated underlying environment, so the specific environmental evidence needs to be collected accurately as well.  The wide range of hardware and OS platforms in use makes this increasingly challenging.

Many software license models also require an understanding of how the software is being used, so it becomes necessary to gather raw usage data at this level, particularly for desktop applications.

Hardware assets have a very predictable lifecycle.  Unlike hardware, the software lifecycle is very unpredictable – its lifetime within your organization could be limited or could last for decades.  You cannot look at software at a point in time and feel confident about the results because the software estate is so dynamic.  Software is upgraded, retired, becoming “shelfware,” or sprawling throughout your environment at an uncontrollable rate on a daily basis.  Therefore, the flexibility and frequency of the discovery and inventory process need to increase.

Companies that reach Level 1 maturity have the hardware asset inventory data and the evidence about the software installed throughout their estate, and can turn their attention to making sense of it all. These organizations are also in a position to accurately track and manage their hardware assets. (See these recent blogs on hardware asset management—Why HAM is one of the Building Blocks of Software License Optimization, What Vince and His Team Wish They Knew about Hardware Asset Management).

To learn more about assessing your Software License Optimization maturity, please view our on-demand webinar: Assess Your License Optimization Maturity and Develop a Plan for Improvement


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