Data centres and licences could harm your business

From CIO to IT manager, to software asset manager, there is a significant pressure on managing risk.

Identifying, tracking and managing any dangers is part of a business’ responsibility to make sure it is not exposed – whether from internal or external forces.

It could be the threats posed by new competitors, the dangers of IT failures or outages, or the risk of unexpected expenditure from audits and fines.

Effectively managing software licenses within the business represents a major potential issue in the form of the potential cost to the business, should an audit find any breaches.

An area of particular danger is licences in the data centre – up to 70% of a large organisation’s licences can sit within the data centre and this is set to increase.

More and more, companies will need to turn their attention to this often overlooked factor. But why does it present this problem, and what’s preventing companies from managing this effectively already?

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One main reason is the realisation by vendors operating in the data centre space, that there is greater opportunity to glean revenue from this part of licensing.

This is because they are acutely aware that enterprises are more reliant on data centres than ever before.

Value is shifting to the data centre as it’s where intelligence lies – endpoints today, such as mobiles or tablets, do not hold significant amounts of data.

The data centre is where more licences will reside and as a result, organisations can’t ignore the growing scrutiny on it.

Not only is there more attention, there’s also more complexity, making an assessment of risk more challenging.

Vendors offering licences in the data centre are changing the metrics for licences on a regular basis, far more than other licences in the enterprise.

This is because more demands are being placed on the data centre, with data being accessed more frequently and by more people, and overall the way data centres are being used in more flexible ways.

Furthermore, the calculations made with these metrics are difficult to understand.

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It takes time and investment to truly know how the licence is being assessed, with calculations made using the capacity of machines, power and processors. That complexity is increasing.

At the moment, up to 10 metrics need to be measured and reported on and this number is set to increase.

The problem with this is that the person managing the licences most likely cannot, practically speaking, take this time that is required to understand these complexities.

They may not fully understand an audit, or a licence’s compliance requirements.

There is a major learning challenge at play, where those with software asset management in their remit need to quickly learn how this aspect of the IT estate is presenting risk. Their role is evolving as a result.

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This changing role is one factor to overcome. But many organisations will find there is confusion over who owns licences in the data centre.

It could be the data centre manager, it could be the IT manager, or the person with software asset management (SAM) in their remit.

Is this leaving a gap, where everyone has different priorities, and are looking to each other to take responsibility?

Given the data centre manager is invariably focused on the hardware and smooth running of the data centre, this is unfortunately a common scenario.

If it is established that it is the SAM manager who is responsible, the likelihood is that the metrics they are accustomed to managing is not in the data centre. This is understandable given the difference in the complexities of the licence.

Indeed, this problem is so common that consultancy firms offer services around this specific problem to plug this gap.

For organisations to truly understand their licencing requirements however, there is a need to bridge this knowledge gap.

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To truly tackle the data centre licence risk, the realistic and effective conclusion of this, in most organisations, will be that a compromise needs to be formed.

Multiple stakeholders will need to work around the same priorities and collaborate to minimise risk: the data centre manager who wants to keep operations running efficiently, and the SAM manager who needs to know exactly what is kept running.

Both are critical and collaboration is key.

Data centres are showing no signs of reducing complexity, adding challenges to the licence management environment at a steep upwards trajectory – exposing the organisation to different types of risk.

The knowledge gap and grey areas around responsibilities only add to this.

A clear and defined plan is needed that manages the process, people and visibility effectively, minimising the risk that each factor can present.

Sourced by David Foxen, SAM evangelist, Snow Software

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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