Whenever SAM Processes are involved; the complexity comes with different licensing metrics and Licensing Models! Imagine Microsoft uses CAL (Client Access Licenses), user, device, subscription licenses for different products. IBM on the other hand uses PVU (Processor Value Units), user, core licenses for different products and so on. All of these makes it very difficult for the SAM Manager(s) to determine effectively determine the license compliance positions of different software publisher!

In fact, there is a society called as “Campaign for Clear Licensing” that aims to increase clarity in the software licensing market and also promote clear licensing terms! As per a research conducted by them for Microsoft Customer the following statistics were revealed.

“If you cannot measure a license don’t buy it” is the clear strategy that organization should use while making software purchases, although MS is a global leader; their customers are often riddled with license issues.

Tracking:  Microsoft customers mention difficultyin tracking what Microsoft software is being used in their environments. Although MS provides SCCM but these are configuration centric and requireconsiderable manual interpretation to decipher licensing requirements.

Licensing Complexity: There is high confusion on usage of CAL, Citrix Licensing, VDI Licensing etc.

Bundling /Sales Tactics: -Microsoft customers claim it’s difficult to unpick product bundles from Microsoft to suit their business requirements. In many cases the full suite of office is installed and paid for wherein fact only Word, Excel might be required.

Navigating to new Models: –  Microsoft like other vendors is trying to move way from perpetual licenses to newer subscription-based licenses such as Office 365; however, its support/clarity on the remaining perpetual licenses is a concern.

Hence, we can easily see that license management can be very difficult to determine. There was a $300 million lawsuit by TIBCO on Bank of America for allegedly copying licensed software illegally and thereby using it after the license agreement timeline; although TIBCO had allowed copying of software it was “restrictive” in nature. Both companies allege each other’s wrong doings;however, what is right or wrong will be decided in courts!

Coming back, lets explore the whole world of license metrics in more detail!!

Service Now acquired Vendor Hawk and this led to Flexera acquiring Meta SaaS; both companies specialize in SaaS Based subscription software license management which are in the in thing now! Companies like Service Now, Snow and Flexera have deep tech to discover software installed on devices but how to discover SaaS software is something they are innovating on. SaaS based software spending is set to grow to $100 Bn by 2020!

Looking at the most used license metrics; we can determine a trend: –

License Metric*MicrosoftOracleIBM VM Ware


Just by looking at the table, we can see that User, Device and Subscription Model are making the most usage. Subscription as mentioned previously helps the vendor to generate more income and also help them to determine what users are using in real time.For ex. Using Office 365: – 1 user license = up to 5 devices can be used however at the end the software is auto renewed or uninstalled if not paid; this certainly is of much more benefit to the vendors/customer.

Microsoft recently announced that Windows 10 would be the last fully packaged product that they will release. From here onwards, it will be all SaaS based subscription and hence, be prepared for Windows 365!We can easily say that Subscription license management are the future!

Talking about managing SaaS based subscription; it may seem easy to manage but the ease of adoption leads organizations to waste up to 30% of their cloud spend in the form of overprovisioning of user and duplication of licenses.Yes, Mistakes happen, Community Health Systems based in Franklin, Tennessee, USA, is facing a lawsuit from Microsoft for alleged copyright infringement and breach of contract and one of the software mentioned is Office 365 which by the way is SaaS based and was assumed could never be non-compliant because of its very nature! But alas!

Hence it is imperative to manage SaaS based subscription licenses with questions like: –

  • Am I on the right licensing model for ex. Office 365 offers E1, E3 and E5 subscription licenses however can the system accurately suggest the right licensing model based on usage? (Price Difference between E1 and E5 Office 365licenses is almost $30/month! Imagine selecting the wrong one for large enterprise!)

  • Which subscriptions are in/not in use?(Between June 2015 and June 2016,the IRS paid $12m for subscriptionson Microsoft Office 365 and ExchangeOnline that were never used.)

  • What is my current subscription spend?

  • How many software subscriptions are not compliant?

  • What is the growth of subscription per week?

  • When is my subscription expiring?

  • Can I renew my subscription from SAM tool?

All of this on one click on Service Now! Office 365 is the world’s most widely used SaaS Solution and its subscription can be easily managed on Service Now!

In the next blog; we will see how to setup Office 365 Integration to manage subscriptions on ServiceNow!

Credits: The ITAM Review

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