Governance Policies Drive Automation Adoption – Case Study on Selection and Implementation of a SAM Solution

By Mark Flynn, Snow Software

Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd is one of the UK’s largest insurance providers for graduates and students. Originally founded in 1965 by the National Union of Students, the company now employs 850 staff members. As a financial services provider, Endsleigh has strict policies concerning corporate governance. A small team at Endsleigh is responsible for every aspect of IT asset management, from sourcing and purchasing through to disposal once an asset has reached the end of its lifecycle. These processes involve managing 1,400 devices, comprising virtualized servers, PCs and laptops running Windows-based applications and suites including Microsoft, Adobe, IBM and VMware.

Endsleigh had been using a home-grown asset register and a third party inventory tool, but could not reconcile inventory against licensing agreements, monitor software utilization levels or easily produce management reports. In 2011, Endsleigh conducted a SAM review and evaluated six different solutions. After careful analysis of the features offered by each vendor’s products in relation to functional requirements, the decision to invest in a software asset management solution was made. The investment in the selection process, product and implementation helped Endsleigh prove compliance during a software audit and improved its negotiating power when renewing vendor licensing agreements. This saved the company thousands of Pounds in resource time.

Automation Requirements

Endsleigh was looking for a SAM platform with accurate and intelligent licensing functionality, recognition capability for software “bundles” (i.e. Microsoft Office), real-time usage monitoring and integrated databases with 360 degree navigation. The company’s product requirements also included strong, flexible reporting, such as drag and drop functionality and the ability to add custom information fields to tailor databases and match the way the company managed its licensing agreements.

“We needed a SAM system capable of looking at the software installed on our estate and providing a compliance report of how that compared to licenses owned”, says Lois Price, IT Service Assurance Manager at Endsleigh Insurance. The product subsequently chosen at the conclusion of the selection process “can provide a detailed breakdown of applications installed, the machines they are on and how this compares to the license count, with a full audit trail linking to agreements and eliminating having to manually cross-reference this information.”

Endsleigh also wanted its SAM platform to maintain an IT asset register, compile reports showing installation dates, asset numbers, departments bought for, cost centers and valuation information. This information provides a full audit trail of the management process from implementation to disposal. The product chosen offered these capabilities. “Reporting is a huge strength of [the product] and it has the ability to create customized reports for different vendors and applications, then run a compliance report against it, saving a huge amount of resource time – we use this feature daily,” says Lois Price.

Immediate Results

Rather than relying on monthly spot-checks of limited devices, Endsleigh now has real-time information on licensing utilization and entitlement rights across the whole organization. This has paid dividends as shortly after implementation, the company was audited by a major software vendor. Endsleigh’s SAM team described this as an intense experience, although they were in a stronger position having deployed the product as this gave Endsleigh greater confidence it could provide the evidence needed. “[Our SAM solution] gave us evidence to prove compliance and actually showed that we were over-licensed in some areas,” adds Lois Price.

In addition to dedicated SAM specialists, Endsleigh’s IT service desk staff are also involved in “hands-on” aspects of SAM, sharing data from software license management to identify any risks via automated reports, deploy any additional software needed such as anti-virus software to keep devices at the right security level and re-harvest licenses. Using automation, re-harvesting has now become a central part of the purchasing process and helps cut costs by re-deploying underutilized licenses. This is done on a case by case basis with highlighted users based on one of the product’s dashboard reports. “If we examine the usage statistics and see someone is an infrequent user, we question their requirements. It seems a bit ‘big brother like’, but when dealing with company money you have to be tough.”

In addition to driving cost savings through re-harvesting, the SAM solution implemented has helped improve governance procedures and contracts management as a whole. “Contracts management is an expensive area and you need usage records available when renegotiating contracts, plus alerts on the system at specified times about when a contract needs reviewing, renewing or terminating. [The new solution] also helps by keeping all associated documentation and signed copies of contracts all in one place, which allows us to act quickly and prevents wasted money.”

Future Plans

Looking ahead, Endsleigh plans to use the automation to understand software usage on virtualized servers and to optimize cloud based software licensing, generating further savings by re-harvesting hosted applications. In addition, they are considering the introduction of a BYOD policy and an IT chargeback model, whereby users of IT are “billed” according to the level of servicing obtained from the IT department. Real-time data will be fundamental to the success of these initiatives. “My recommendation is to ensure you have a good, flexible SAM solution able to provide the functionality your organization needs because licensing compliance is a massively growing industry and corporate governance is critical both from a cost and reputation perspective, says Lois Price, IT Service Assurance Manager, Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd.