Software Asset Management “Software Counter” Nuances

Ensuring accuracy in SAM Counter Results

An increased regulatory environment has forced organizations to take a look at their compliance initiatives. But, reporting accurate software compliance can be difficult for many reasons, highest among them, the fact that software licenses are hard to track across a number of different users.

Software counters reconcile software rights with software installations to verify compliance. They count the licenses for a specific version of software, allowing organizations to track and manage accounts. Results are organized by license type, showing the number of people allocated to a license who have installed the software, those who have been allocated but have not installed, unauthorized users, and unassigned licenses, for example. 

One of the critical components in counter construction is the correct selection of license types. Click To Tweet

Out of the box, ServiceNow provides a choice of 16 license types, intended to represent and conform to documented industry standards or specific provider methods (e.g., Microsoft Core-based, SAP CPU-based). 

Two of the more commonly confused categories of license types are “By Utilization” and “By User,” each with classifications that must be selected to ensure accurate usage counts.  We’ll look at each.

By Utilization

The “By Utilization” category provides the option of selecting between CPU or User.  What’s the difference?

Both CPU and User options focus on counting utilization based on some kind of actual usage and as such is often a preferred method for tracking license utilization since it represents an efficient and accurate representation of an organization’s software resources. 

Both methods rely on Discovery results and begin by counting the software usage data mapped  to any of the discovery model records of the particular counter’s software model.  However, whereas the CPU method counts an installation for every unique Configuration Item (CI), the User option counts the installation for every unique “user Accessed From” hardware configuration item. This is a subtle but distinct difference, as the User option relies on an actual user access of the software whereas the CPU simply looks for the existence of the installation.

By User

Another common source of confusion is found in the “By User” category, where in addition to an option for ‘No license needed,’ you can choose between “Number of installs per user” and “Per named user.”  With the “Number of installs per user” license, the counter counts an installation when one software installation matches the discovery models that are mapped to that particular software model for any hardware used by that  user.  The “Per Named User” option allows you to specify distribution and utilization of the license by a specific number of users that you specify. This allows considerable control and management as software administrators would presumably closely monitor the users to whom the license has been allocated.

For instance, if the license has been allocated to users Adrien, Bob, Carla, and DaSean, the maximum installation count would be 4. If Eloise also attempted to install the license, it would be treated as unassigned and would not be shown or counted against those 4. Similarly, Should Bob leave the organization, his allocation could be reclaimed and eventually assigned to Eloise.

When selecting license types, business leaders should be aware that not all license types are always available, and pre-selected license types may not necessarily match your compliance needs.

If the selected license type does not represent the correct method, or if the provider uses a different technique, the counter result will be inaccurate. ServiceNow provides capabilities to script for these nuances, and Cask can assist in analyzing the unique needs of such licenses and scripting accordingly.

Occasionally, none of the standard license types accurately reflect licensing constraints. An example might be a home-grown application that the organization wishes to track and monitor. In these cases, a custom license type can be created, and Cask can assist your business with scripting these custom license types to keep track of compliance. 

By accurately reflecting compliance positions, you can realize rapid audit support and remediation capabilities for your entire organization.

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