Technology & Innovation

Enabling effective SAM through automation

By Ben Eagling, Marketing Manager of License Dashboard
Technology & Innovation
Published: 19 June 2018

Being bogged down by repetitive admin tasks in the workplace is set to be a thing of the past if the hype around artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation is to be believed. Organisations are saving time, cutting costs, and enjoying improved productivity by embracing these technologies, with business intelligence and IT standing to see huge benefits.

Yes, artificial intelligence looks to be a major disruptor. In fact, by 2025, 16% of US jobs will be replaced by cognitive technologies. According to a report by Forrester, robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation, will create new “robot monitoring” roles, vacancies for “data scientists”, and a demand for “automation specialists”.

New technology for better accuracy and increased efficiency
Automation’s role in IT is one of speeding up operations. Although some manual input is required to prevent an automated error, automated tasks are performed more quickly and more accurately, so the IT Team can spend their time more effectively. Instead of the spending their time on administrative tasks, they can apply themselves to work that truly makes a difference both within the IT department, and for the organisation as a while.

Automation can save time and resource by taking on repetitive tasks that must be performed frequently. In the case of Software Asset Management, this would be the gathering, consolidating, and normalising of software install and usage data, and the cross referencing of that data with license entitlement. License Dashboard found that 73% of SAM Managers spend most of their time on these transactional license management tasks, which is a huge drain on resources.

Automatically Microsoft Office 365 subscription management
Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016 can be installed on up to five PCs/MACs and five tablets/smartphones through one Microsoft Office 365 subscription. The IT Team is faced with the challenge of knowing how many Microsoft Office licenses are necessary to achieve compliance. This involves tracking who has access to what device, and which installs are covered by the Microsoft Office 365 subscription – complicated enough, but even more complicated when multiple users have access to each device.

Should a user have Microsoft Office installed on the desktop PC as well as their laptop and their tablet, the Network Inventory tool will seek three separate licenses – one for each installation. This conflicts with the admin portal, which understands that the subscription allows multiple installations. Similarly, a developer may deploy multiple products to multiple devices through the Microsoft Developer Network under one subscription. This is all tracked through the admin portal, but again, the network inventory tool demands a license for each deployment.

User based licensing could be of huge benefit to organisations’ precious IT budget, but manually reconciling every user’s multiple aliases and then matching that user to the relevant software license would take many man hours – especially in a bigger organisation. Through automation, this task is performed quickly and accurately, therefore unburdening IT Teams and offering visibility of an organisation’s effective license position (ELP).

SAM and automation’s roles in retail
To accurately track and trace stock levels, an online retailer will employ a data centre offering an online catalogue service. It’s likely that this retailer will experience busy periods, perhaps during a sale, or at a particular time of the year. An increase in activity calls for an increase in capacity and compute resource, to make sure service is not overloaded and therefor interrupted. Historical data can be applied to understand and predict when these busy periods might occur.

In the event of an unplanned busy period, complicated software licensing for data centre products proves inflexible. Increasing capacity will incur costs, which will blow IT budget, impact forecasting, and may have repercussions into the following year’s financial plan.

Automation liberates SAM managers
The IT department is relieved of its transactional tasks through automation. Businesses migrating to the cloud, and adopting user based licensing models paints a picture of simplified, cost-effective software licensing, but the reality is that SAM can quickly get out of hand when it comes to managing users and allocating licenses. Keeping track through automation means could save hundreds of man hours. Where it would previously take a team weeks to establishing an organisation’s ELP, the right tools means that it now takes moments to accurately, automatically reconcile that data, with one specialist overseeing the process. The IT Team can instead spend time on more business-critical tasks.

About the author
Ben has worked as a marketing professional for nine years, with four years spent in the IT sector. Working closely with software and licensing experts within License Dashboard, Ben produces regular content on Software Asset Management tools, services and market insights.