As a student, one of the better pieces of advice I received was “Don’t shop hungry” – the temptation being to overload a shopping trolley with everything that tingled my taste buds.
Procurement around SAM and licensing could do worse than follow this guidance too. Contracts might stipulate that certain purchase quantities must be achieved to receive a given discount, but at the date of signature it would be unreasonable to expect procurement staff to know of projects and programs in the future that could consume vast quantities of pre-aligned software.
Equally, certain licence types might exclude single purchases of licences, bought on an as-needed basis. So having that ability to re-visit what is in the licence pool is a staple part of a quality software request process.
The SAM function’s ability to be able to tell the business what licenses are held in reserve can offer a degree of foresight that not only supports over-spending on unnecessary software but can also benefit projects and project-planning. If we know that 500 licences of software X is required in six months’ time, then by knowing what’s in the licence pool we have the opportunity to ring-fence those licences away from the general consumption of BAU IT.
Indeed, if your company operates a federated IT structure, you might find that having multiple pools better supports recycling and charge-back from a centralised procurement function.
The ability to produce licence pool reports also helps the business know when the licence tank is getting low. If your business operates on a lead time to purchase and deploy software, then knowing the level of what software is running low could trigger a re-purchasing activity to boost quantities and save deployment SLAs from being blown.
We can go further too (at least in Europe) because if we understand the composition of our licence pool, then we could look at software licences that haven’t been accessed in 12 months (as an example) and give serious thought to trading those licences on the second-hand market. After all, unused on-prem licences are dead money
You might think that a licence pool would have no application in the cloud – but not so! Any cloud contract signed with a major provider will undoubtedly include reserved instances: these are discounted volumes of compute power that have been pre-purchased for deployment through the life of the contract. Having these available in a “free for all” fashion could result in business and IT services suffering in a cost-benefit analysis scenario because architects and IT project managers “shopped hungry” and wolfed the discounted instances on non-critical engagements.
So there you have it! The flipside of an ELP/ compliance report is every bit as important as the compliance report itself, and arguably more so in the cloud. A lean licence pool may result in needing a greater management overhead, but letting it go feral will surely cost your company capital that it could better spend elsewhere. Find the cadence/ gauge that works best for you.