What is Software License Management?

Software license management software (SLM) helps IT teams monitor, manage and optimize software licenses. Software license management tools can monitor license status, help maintain security and patching, and reduce spend for on-premise, cloud infrastructure, and SaaS software.

Software License Management

Software License Management

This article covers key points about license management software, software asset management, software license tracking, and why every enterprise needs a software license management strategy, including:

  • The features of software license management software
  • The benefits of software license management software
  • Key considerations when selecting license management software
  • The benefits of Oomnitza’s software license management software

Features of Software License Management Software

To deliver on its promise, software license tracking software requires a wide variety of features and capabilities. Basic IT license management software functions almost the same as a spreadsheet. Advanced SLM software and services incorporate additional powerful features and capabilities two-way data syncing, integration with other systems, workflow automation, automated data field mapping, and reconciliation, and REST APIs. Here are some of the key features to look for in SLM software.
(Note: We are not considering SLM that requires large amounts of manual work; this defeats the entire purpose of SLM.)

Cloud-hosted

Modern SLM deploys cloud-based software license management because so much of the activity it must track is in the cloud and on cloud servers, not on physical endpoints.

Automated Discovery

Finds all software installed on enterprise assets and classifies that software by the publisher, type, and license.

Spend tracking

Monitors, analyze, and tracks total software spend

Usage tracking

Monitors usage trends and tracks usage data in interactive dashboards or regular reports.

License tracking

Shows available licenses compared to licenses in use and licenses in quarantine.

License query engine

Quickly finds and ascertains the status of any software license under management.

License reconciliation

Maintains accurate license position data by automatically comparing license position entitlement to usage and cost calculations.

License forecasting

Projects license trends and predicts when licenses will need to be renewed or additional licenses will need to be purchased.

Blacklist and blocking

Spots and blocks installation of potentially risky personal or other types of high-risk software on corporate assets and facilitating removal of that software.

Integrates with Patch Management / Security Software

Integrates with patch management and security updates to ensure an accurate record of software status associated with each license or subscription.

REST API

Well-documented and structured API to allow for data to be called out of your SLM software and shared with or imported into external systems.

More advanced SLM software solutions provide additional capabilities for enhanced functionality, including:

Cloud infrastructure license monitoring and management

Monitor license usage of cloud servers and software running on Amazon AWS, Google Compute Platform, and Microsoft Azure.

Audit and compliance automation

Capability to automate repeated audit and compliance processes to reduce manual labor and improve accuracy.

SaaS license management

Pre-configured management of SaaS licenses for major online tools including Adobe Creative Cloud, DocuSign, Zoom, Box, G-Suite, Jira, Salesforce Service Cloud, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Dropbox, Microsoft O365, and Webex.

SSO data capture

Leverage widely used SSOs such as Okta and Ping Identity and employee directory software such as Azure AD and G Suite to automatically import and monitor software usage.

ERP, ticketing, helpdesk, HRIS, SIEM, and finance tool integrations

pre-configured integrations with key enterprise software solutions to enable cross-department workflows where necessary and to port information to additional systems.

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Benefits of License Management Software

Understanding the benefits of SLM software make it easier to build a clear business case for any SLM software project.

Some key benefits that software license management tools deliver include:

 

Cost control

Spending on software can quickly spin out of control unless it is actively managed and monitored. Employees may install their own software paying out of pocket rather than using existing paid-for licenses. This maintains software license integrity.

Improved negotiation leverage

By providing a comprehensive view of license status and usage trends, IT and procurement teams can more effectively negotiate with software vendors for the best terms

Improved negotiation leverage

SLM can make audit and compliance easier by creating a single source of truth for all software license data and closely tracking EULA (End User License Agreement) compliance. One device that is outside of EULA can result in considerable penalties.

Decreasing “True-Up” Risk

SLM decreases the chances that your enterprise is using out-of-date or out-of-compliance licenses, reducing the risk of big penalties payable to software vendors.

Reducing errors and manual labor

SLM automates many of the repetitive manual tasks involved with license management and integrates with other tools using automated workflows to reduce errors and improve accuracy.

Analyzing Software Usage / Software Usage Management

Procurement teams can use SAM to analyze software usage patterns for capacity and resource planning and budgeting and create software usage management strategies.

Improving Employee Experience

SLM helps IT and HR teams deliver to all employees the software they need within the most advantageous licensing terms.

Key Considerations When Selecting Software License Management Software

Choosing the right SLM software for your organization is an important decision that requires due diligence and deliberation. Any robust software license monitoring system will deliver on the basics. Newer, cloud-native SLM systems tend to offer considerably more features due to their flexibility, ease of use and extensibility. To start the process, first, identify and prioritize the use cases that your SLM software will fulfill. These may include:

These may include:

Security stance Improvement

SLM allows infosec teams to better manage and track software patching to improve security.

Risk Reduction

SLM decreases the risk of overages in license usage or out-of-date licenses, which can incur seven-figure penalties from software vendors.

Audit and Compliance Simplification

SLM simplifies audit and compliance processes by creating a single source of truth for the entire software estate and related software assets.

Optimizing IT Spend

SLM helps IT teams identify stranded licenses and “shelfware” as well as opportunities to consolidate purchases and access economies of scale.

Automating Workflows

Modern SLM automates many of the repetitive manual tasks involved with asset management and integrates with other tools using automated workflows.

Analyzing / Visualizing Software Usage

IT, procurement and finance teams can quickly and continuously analyze software consumption.

Streamlining procurement and license management

Procurement teams can use SLM to streamline procurement processes. IT teams can create software usage management strategies.

Once you have built out your potential and likely use cases, then assess what features and capabilities are required to match those use cases. This means comparing the numerous SLM solutions available, ranging from on-premise installed software to hybrid software-cloud solutions to SaaS-only SLM solutions. Some questions to consider in selecting may include:

SaaS or On-Premise

Most organizations today are adopting SaaS because it is easier to install and set up, more economical and flexible with regard to license expansion or reduction, and tends to be built on more modern infrastructure that supports more types of software assets.

Software asset coverage

Does the SLM cover all three types of software - on-premise, SaaS and cloud infrastructure?

Software discovery

Consider how each SLM solution discovers software assets. Can they discover virtual and mobile instances of software? Today’s best SLM systems are agentless - meaning, they aggregate data from existing management tools like SSOs rather than installing additional agents.

Flexibility

How customizable is the SLM software? Does it offer pre-configured connectors to other commonly used systems that can automate workflows? How easy is it to create integrations from scratch? Will you need to write code or can you simply connect via APIs?

Scalability

How quickly can you scale your activity on a SLM and add new assets? Is it usage based or seat-based or core-based? Do you need to renegotiate additional licenses or does it offer usage bands?

Software License Management

This may seem obvious but, what are the specific software license management and software license tracking features of the solution? Can it provide license recycling, license quarantining (for legal purposes on sequestered machines), contract management and quickly tabulate licenses in use in order to respond to vendor audit requests that could lead to penalties?

Analysis and Reporting

Can the SLM solution be quickly set up to analyze and report on common KPIs for security, IT, financial, and operational metrics? Does the tool enable role-based reporting for each stakeholder? Does it come with visual dashboards or charts and graphs to simplify software asset and license storytelling and reporting?

You also need to consider what types of software licenses you will need to manage.Not all license management tools cover all license types. Here are the primary license types. Identify which ones among these you are using and make sure to select an SLM software solution that works well with your license types – or plan additional development and integration work to accommodate those types.

Types of Software Licenses You Will Need to Manage

Per Seat / User

These licenses are tied to a specific user. Sometimes they can install and use the software on multiple devices (like their desktop and laptop). Usually per-seat or user-based licenses are tied back to user identity via SSO or employee directory software.

Per Subscription

This license type is managed by a subscription for user or device, usually has an expiration date. This describes most SaaS licenses today.

Per device, CPU or core

These licenses are for a single machine, whether it is a laptop or mobile device or a server. Per core licensing became more common with the rise of multi-core CPUs and has become more popular for cloud-based usage where VMs have core-equivalents.

Per Network

This license type covers all the machines running on a single network, or on multiple indicated networks

Open Source licenses

Covers software that has an open source licenses and no costs. Even though these are free-of-charge licenses, they do carry legal limitations. These are usually per device or per server and are almost always installed software rather than SaaS or cloud infrastructure.

What is Software License Tracking Software

Software license tracking is almost always executed through software. That software may be hosted in the cloud, run as a service (SaaS) or installed on servers or endpoints as agents. Software license tracking software can keep track of software based on various license criteria including: per CPU or core, per network, per endpoint, per Container, or as buckets of SaaS licenses per range of IP addresses.

Key Features of Oomnitza Software License Management Software

Oomnitza has an SLM module that can manage and monitor licenses across all three types of software (installed, cloud infrastructure and SaaS). Specific features and benefits of Oomnitza IT asset tracking software include:

Holistic Integration

Oomnitza is designed to integrate with other IT solutions and incorporate data from these multiple systems into a single uniform golden database. Oomnitza automatically maps data fields to ensure reliable data schema are generated and all data is clean.

Ease of deployment and use

IT teams can deploy Oomnitza SLM in a matter of days without writing code or making major configuration changes. Oomnitza’s intuitive UX allows even non-technical users to query the asset tracking database and construct automated workflows or visualizations and dashboards.

Pre-configured connectors

Oomnitza comes with dozens of pre-configured connectors allowing for instant integrations and workflow automation across ticketing systems, HRIS, ERP, SSO, employee directory, UEM, SIEM, and CSB platforms.

Flexible workflows

Oomnita’s visual workflow engine makes it easy for anyone to set up multi-step software license management workflows across multiple systems.

Bi-directional data syncing

Oomnitza supports bi-directional data syncing between the Oomnitza platform and other applications. Bi-directional data creates more agile information sharing and allows intelligence from software license management to flow both ways - into and out from Oomnitza.

Full asset lifecycle management

Oomnitza covers the full spectrum from automatically ingesting and populating software license data via vendor API to onboarding to servicing and patching to removal and retirement.

Accurate

Oomnitza automatically reconciles and dedupes all license data to provide an accurate and timely view of licenses tracked including owner, location, security status, and service status

Extensible

Aside from dozens of built-in connectors, Oomnitza’s API is Python-based and easy to extend into other systems that have their own REST APIs

Configurable

Oomnitza can generate dashboards and reports configured precisely to the needs or KPI goals of specific stakeholders.

Native Mobile / Tablet Applications

Oomnitza’s SLM native app simplifies life both for IT specialists and employees by allowing IT support teams to provide check-ins and service lookups at the employee’s own desk or from anywhere.

Conclusion: Select the Right SLM for Your Enterprise

Selecting SLM software is a serious decision that you want to nail on the first pass. Even if your SLM can be installed quickly and configured easily, you will need to create a well-thought-out adoption plan, including training, champions, and change management tactics. Invariably, when companies adopt SLM this results in changes of expectations and rules on how software is installed and tracked. If you follow the guidelines we layout here for thinking through your decision, you are far more likely to have a successful SLM software tool selection process.

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