Are you working with the right technology partner?
Running a business can be challenging, with so many things to consider: HR, sales, marketing, finance, IT and the specialism of the company itself.
We work with lots of organisations at the SAM Club and an article by Roy Russell at Ascertus resonated with us as it talks about ethical technology partnerships. Law firms as an example must justify their fees and they validate them based on the level of experience and skills on a subject matter as well as quality of service. Russell says ‘So, shouldn’t the same criteria be applied to the pricing and quality of service provided by technology providers offering Support services?’
Finding the right technology partners to work with can be challenging and really the decision should not just come down to price, but take into consideration the level of support that is being provided. The demands on IT have changed, the days of managing tin are disappearing with products like Microsoft Azure, AWS and or hosted environments. There is a lot more emphasis on driving efficiencies within the business and providing IT solutions to benefit the demands of the end users. Software vendors constantly change their licensing rules, release new versions and understanding the termination rules of software licenses can be a headache. Should Heads of IT be keeping up to date with this ever-changing information or working with a specialist software asset manager?
Russell discusses the ethics of support pricing being based on the size of organisation – is this fair and ethical that a small business does not get the same level of support as a 1000 user site? Working with the right partners can mean the difference between spending thousands of pounds and saving thousands of pounds in the long run.
Why Software Asset Management?
A survey conducted by Computing magazine that looked at what aspects of IT generate the highest unforeseen costs, highlighted software licensing and asset management as the most expensive source. This is due to constant changes from software vendors licensing rules and the increased frequency of software audits being conducted by vendors.
One of the most recent license changes from Microsoft was the release of Windows Server 2016 and the change from per processor to per core licensing. When Software Assurance (SA) on Windows Server expires, a 2-processor license will transition to a 16-core license. If your servers contain more than 8 cores per processor for example, you are entitled to a grant for the additional cores at SA renewal. However, you must keep adequate date stamped records of the servers installed within the organisation as at the SA renewal in case of questions from a compliance review. We have seen examples where clients were not made aware of this and are now experiencing unexpected costs from a compliance review.
SQL Server is another minefield for licensing. Having recently worked with a client on their Enterprise Agreement renewal re-licensing of SQL Server was considered, as the existing User CALS were not covered with SA and needed to be replaced. We provided analysis over a 6-year period considering: permanent and subscription licensing, User CALS compared to Per Core licensing for SQL Server Standard and considering the different licensing programmes. The client was astounded to see different price options ranging from £880k to £360k. This prompted a further internal discussion on SQL Server and after some server amalgamation the SQL Server licensing model was agreed at a vastly reduced cost of £210k over a 6-year period.
Why work with a SAM provider?
Here at the SAM Club, we are independent trusted advisors who work with organisations helping manage their software assets and allowing them to focus on the business needs. Being independent means, we do not resell any software, so we are completely unbiased in our advice.
It’s our business to understand the licensing rules and provide the advice and guidance to our clients with new purchases and renewals. We become part of their internal IT team managing their software assets: taking the time to understand what is currently owned, what is installed and the future business plans, providing valuable, objective and unbiased advice tailored to suit their requirements.
For any organisation there is always the possibility of a software licensing audit, being prepared for this can make all the difference. Microsoft led the way with software audits, they operate on a trust basis allowing user to download and install any software from the licensing portal on the understanding they have purchased the software and are entitled to the edition/version. But how do you know your environment is 100% correct and that users in the organisation haven’t downloaded software incorrectly? One of the services we offer is a compliance package, where we carry out an internal compliance review. This is generally the best defence as you are pre-warned of any license discrepancies and can consider your options ahead of an audit. This also provides invaluable information for budgets should there be the need for any unlicensed software installed.
Unused / Unwanted Software
With Microsoft software purchased within the EEC, that is no longer required or used, there is always the option to resell this via specialist companies. The SAM Club can help identify these licenses and option quotes for the purchase of these licenses. There is an interesting article from Brodies that supports this : right to resell used software licenses
We would love to hear any thoughts around the topic of ethical technology partnerships or software asset management and if there is anything you'd like us to write about drop a comment to us!
Roy Russell Ascertus Ethical technology partnerships
SCL software asset management article