It is about that time of the year when companies are trying to finalize their future budget cycle and financial allocations. Companies allocate roughly 5%, and even upwards of 10% for some industries, of company revenue for IT budget. This equates to a very large sum when you start considering the various companies in the financial, tech, retail, and manufacturing industries. To put it in perspective, a company with $10 billion in annual revenue would spend approximately $500 million. So this begs the question: Are the executives and upper management in a position to make intelligent and innovative business decisions with the data provided coming from the IT department?
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE CHALLENGES COMPANIES FACE WHEN TRYING TO FINALIZE THE FUTURE IT BUDGET.
- No governance established – Many companies do not have an established governance, policies, or procedures in place to efficiently manage the lifecycle of IT assets. More often I see companies working as separate groups in segregated systems with no set standards and no defined ownership. This type of behavior leads to inefficiency of resources, increased risks, and costly mistakes.
- No attention to IT Asset Management – The majority of companies have never had IT Asset Management practices at the forefront. There has not been a champion to own and incorporate it, so other priorities continue to undermine ITAM. There may also be misconceptions around ITAM practices that play a part in how well adopted they become, and stakeholders have not been properly informed of the need for it so it continues to take the back seat.
- No ITAM Maturity – There are many companies that have basic ITAM processes in place, but many of them are manual and lacking important data points. There may not be enough resources to effectively manage and optimize the entire IT asset portfolio, the necessary tools for doing so may not be available, or a combination of the two, prevent companies from moving up the maturity scale. Also, different departments and lines of business are working separately instead of together. This makes it extremely difficult to operate with efficiency and agility and to make strategic and innovative decisions.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO? DON’T WORRY, THERE IS HOPE!
Start by creating your “why” statement. Why is IT Asset Management important to the company? Support your argument with concrete examples and statistics to get the attention of executives and decision makers. Executive level buy-in is critical for making an ITAM practice successful.
Once you have executive support, work with key stakeholders on determining your highest priorities. What has the most impact on the various lines of business? Criteria may include things like largest area of spend, compliance/audit risk, time period of renewal or true-up.
You may currently be a in a position of preparing to finalize the 2020 budget, and the task feels daunting if you identify with any or all of the challenges listed above. You may know that you need to present the challenges to managers to gain their support, but you are not sure how or where to start. If so, we would love to help you get started.
We can partner with you at any point along your journey to help you map out and execute ITAM maturity.
To take advantage of Sub-capacity licensing and its inherent value, IBM customers are required to: 1) Install either the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) or BigFix Inventory (BFI). 2) Produce audit reporting on at least a quarterly basis, and 3) Retain such reports continuously for 2 years. However, while IBM mandates the use of these tools for Sub-capacity license owners, it does not contractually require that they be used to their optimal capabilities. This is where many customers miss an important opportunity to start down the road toward formalized Software Asset Management.
IBM requires the use of these tools only where sub-capacity software is installed, but if the BigFix agenting is installed elsewhere, organizations can discover other non sub-capacity IBM software instances (and in the case of BigFix Inventory, over 40,000 other software titles from over 9,600 other publishers).
Like many IBM customers, the last company I worked for installed ILMT, and struggled with it initially. Early versions of the tool were hardly perfect, and this gave it a “bad rep” with the IT staff. With perseverance however, we were eventually able to stabilize the application and begin to extract some value from it in the form of software discovery reporting and the requisite audit reporting.
We quickly realized, however, that the value of software discovery data (on their own) is extremely limited. To make sense of the data that were captured, more background information was needed.
Specifically we required a complete understanding of the IBM licensing inventory we held; without which we were unable to accurately bundle products within ILMT or produce even the simplest reconciliation to our Effective License Position.
Once this was compiled however, we found that we were able to better control our software estate, and as an unforeseen secondary benefit, found ourselves well on our way down the path of Software Asset Management (all because we were using a contractually required IBM tool.)
If you are interested in understanding how ILMT can provide additional value and be a ‘Gateway to SAM’ for your own journey, please read the complete article at: //itak.iaitam.org/ilmt-gateway-sam.
Software scans—like those performed with ILMT—are familiar to just about anybody working in Software Asset Management (SAM). They keep you compliant, help ensure there won’t be any surprises during a software audit, and are critical for giving you important details about your software inventory.
But the problem with software scans is that they require a huge amount of processing power—so much that they can overload your server and compromise the ability of your host to function properly. Dynamic scan groups were created to solve this problem.
What does a dynamic scan group do?
Because software scans require so much processing power, you need to balance your CPU resources to avoid server problems. That means creating a dynamic scan group, which will randomly distribute the processing power associated with the software scan across different groups. This keeps the software scan from trying to perform the entire function on all the virtual servers at once, which is something your host likely can’t handle.
It’s the same principle as if you were deploying patches or distributing software—you can’t run twenty thousand endpoints at the same time without expecting to cripple your servers.
What happens when servers overload?
Overloaded servers are bad news and can cause all sorts of problems. Probably the most common is that they’ll be slow—and can be crippled entirely, which will disconnect users. This can lead to all sorts of problems, including data loss and the loss of critical functions like backup capabilities.
What kind of business uses dynamic scan groups?
As companies grow larger, more sophisticated, and more globalized, load balancing is becoming a bigger problem—and dynamic scan groups are becoming more important. Generally speaking, if you have a large business with ten thousand endpoints or more, you should be using dynamic scan groups when implementing software scans, deploying patches, or application updates/rollouts. They probably aren’t as necessary for small- or medium-sized businesses.
Are there other uses for dynamic scan groups?
Dynamic scan groups can be useful for testing purposes, in addition to helping with load distribution. Say, for example, you use a dynamic scan group to randomly distribute new software throughout your company. This is useful because if the random distribution works, you can expand the rollout process with peace of mind, knowing that it’s been tested across a variety of operating systems, hardware platforms, application servers, etc.
How can my company start implementing dynamic scan groups?
If your business routinely does software scans and needs help setting up dynamic scan groups, our team at CleanSlate can help. We understand how to integrate them into your software scan process so that your load distribution won’t affect server performance—and your business and servers will keep running full force. Contact us today to learn more.
If your company uses IBM products, PVU reporting is something you’re probably familiar with. But it’s easy to forget that there are licensed products outside of PVU that require proper managing and reporting, too.
Reporting non-PVU products is just as important as reporting standard PVU products during a software audit. But reporting them correctly presents a unique set of challenges because they can vary in licensing type, range of deployment, and collection methods. That can make it difficult to track them, and to provide proper documentation.
Non-PVU reporting can be a timely undertaking, and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’ve outlined a few simple steps you can take to make sure your next software audit goes smoothly.
Be informed and prepared. As with regular PVU reporting, it’s important to understand your Passport Agreement, the product ELA, and any negotiated special licensing terms. Non-PVU products cover a variety of licensing types, from the classic Authorized, Floating, or Concurrent User, to other types like a license measurement based off the square footage of your facility. Make sure you understand the details—some applications are more complex than others.
Partner with product experts within your organization. The next challenge is the logistics of data gathering. Reporting on non-PVU products typically means working with multiple administrators or engineers across different silos within the organization—and that means partnering with the business application owners. Their knowledge about management and the architecture of products will be key in your data collection efforts.
Next, you need to consider the different methods of data collection. Keep in mind that each product family is delivered to its user base in a way that makes sense to the product, not always for utilization reporting. This can make data gathering a timely process, and it will differ from product to product. In many cases this will be a manual effort—however, some products provide scripts and/or can be used with third-party products to assist in data collection.
Get organized. Be sure to document your journey and the steps taken to collect data. Then identify opportunities to create a scriptable and repeatable process. After that, you can collect your data and validate your findings with your Passport Agreement.
This can sound simple, but the initial data collection might just scratch the surface of the information you need. Getting all the data will require a continued partnership with the application owners and experts—they’re your front line for monitoring and managing the license position.
The evolution of an organization to expand or divest can complicate the reporting process as well. Monitor your metrics, and know that it’s crucial to consider multiple sites and licensing acquired from mergers/acquisitions or divestitures. And make sure you keep any documentation developed with IBM about any software licensing transfers. Finally, implement and review any new license keys and counts that have been applied and documented with IBM.
At CleanSlate, we have a deep understanding of non-PVU reporting and can help make sure your business doesn’t have any surprises during your next software audit. If you’d like to learn more about all the ways we can help your business, contact us today.
For over a decade, CleanSlate has offered the full line of IBM Passport Advantage
Software—and now we’re certified to sell IBM Power Systems Servers and Software as well as midrange and enterprise storage. In addition to IBM, we also offer the complete line of Lenovo x86 PCs, servers, laptops, and enterprise storage.
“For our ever-growing partner community, this is an opportunity to expand their line card. In addition to selling IBM Software, we’re now excited to be able to fill any hardware gaps our partners have with their customers,” said John Loveys, president & CEO.
CleanSlate’s goal is to provide the best systems at an outstanding price, making sure you have everything necessary to handle your rapidly evolving technology needs. The next time you have a hardware request, contact us to speak with one of our highly skilled sales executives. Our deep technical knowledge and skills can help solve your needs today—and will keep you poised for success tomorrow.
Have you ever found yourself in a position on a project where you struggle to obtain answers to your questions? For me, I encountered this situation while being part of a team converting an application built in a proprietary language to a solution based on standardized languages and frameworks.
On this project, the stories contained references to program code in the current version of the application. This caused our team to play a game I have referred to as “find and seek” in order to derive the underlying business rules and functionality.
The Building Contractor Example
Reviewing a significant amount of proprietary code eventually leads to uncertainty with the results provided. While doing my best to analyze and understand program logic written in an application that I am far from an expert in, there are times when I would need to reach out to the subject matter expert (SME) on the project. Upon asking my task-related questions, most of the answers referred to revisiting the current code to gain an answer.
While I certainly understand that everyone, including the SME, is very busy with tasks related to the project, the following example came to mind:
Assume that my job is to frame houses for a living. I have a strong understanding of the framing process and have experience with the tasks assigned to me to yield a fully framed home. While on a project, I reached a point where I needed answers from the architect on the project. When I asked for a quick answer to my question, the architect instead provided me with the following answer:
“Get into your vehicle and drive about 20 miles to a house I completed prior to this project. Ask to enter into the home and find your way into the attic. Once in the attic, if you review the work I completed in the northwest side of the home, you will understand how I want this task completed.”
In essence, the architect asked me to make a 40-mile round-trip drive to (hopefully) gain access into a home which had the same requirements when built. The hope is that I can actually gain entrance into the home to be able to navigate inside the attic to obtain an answer to a question that could have been provided by the architect within a much shorter period of time.
The Cost of Find and Seek
While the building contractor example may sound absurd, asking a team member to spend extra time to find an answer is not much different. When these types of situations continue to occur, it is easy to understand how a project can stall or go over budget as team members continue to derive requirements and functionality from the version of the application that is being replaced.
In addition to the loss in time, there is the aspect of the time required to regain productivity after an interruption in planned work. The following graphic appears in Arshad Hossain’s blog entry “A study on unplanned interruptions in software development:”
With a goal of obtaining 70% productivity, the time period between data points I3 and I4 demonstrate the loss of productivity due to an interruption. Based on the graphic alone, it appears there is a 45-minute period of time where productivity bottoms out at 10%. In this example, the author references helping another individual during this time, but the segment could also reference the topic discussed in my example.
The productivity does not reach zero, as some level of productivity is gained from the find and seek effort. Eventually, productivity reaches 80% before a break is taken.
By comparison, the I1 data point could represent the impact on productivity if the SME was to take a few minutes to provide an answer. Here, there is a small drop during the conversation, but productivity increases rapidly as a result of the quick assistance provided.
Impact on the SME
Looking at the graphic from Arshad’s article could raise the question, “do the I3 and I4 data points represent the productivity loss by the SME by fielding questions about the application being converted?”
Considering the role of the SME, I don’t believe this is a valid consideration. While the SME’s productivity will be impacted from answering the question, it is part of the SME’s job to provide expert information regarding the current application. In fact, Arshad Hossain concludes, “On average, about 40% of working time is lost because of interruption, but not all of it should be counted as waste as some of it is unavoidable and some of it can actually increase other people’s productivity.”
I truly understand the task load on team members during application conversion projects. During these types of projects, the product owner, development lead, and other key roles are often overloaded with tasks because they’re focused on delivering a quality product at an accelerated pace. However, it is important to keep in mind the impact that asking team members to play “find and seek” has on not only their productivity, but also the cost of the project.
If your business is looking for help with software asset management, building an app, cloud consulting, or any other IT issue, our team at CleanSlate can help. Contact us today.