Guardian Improves SAM Efficiency and License Optimization – An Implementation Case Study

By Mark Flynn, Snow Software

Software Asset Management has been in place for some time at the Guardian News & Media (GNM), a large publisher with a portfolio including the world’s third largest English-speaking newspaper website. The company sought to improve SAM and license optimization and although it was using an existing SAM solution, GNM recognized it could further improve IT governance by adopting a next generation tool. The goal was to ensure more accurate inventory management and with it, improved licensing compliance, better reporting capabilities and optimization of available software assets.

With a total of 2,500 IT assets to manage across the UK, including many used by remote workers, being able to ensure software compliance and governance in an efficient way is a high priority for the SAM team at Guardian News & Media. The objectives for their Software Asset Management program are to ensure software procurement costs are minimized, licenses are monitored on an ongoing basis for compliance and accurate usage data is available to give the company an advantageous negotiating position when renewing software licensing contracts. An integral part of managing the Guardian’s IT assets involves ensuring that the wide range of software being used across the organization is optimized, with re-harvesting of licenses wherever feasible, based on “real-time” inventory data.

Consolidation, optimization and higher levels of automation were the primary business drivers behind the implementation of a replacement SAM solution. Prior to this project, GNM had to use two software tools to fulfil their SAM requirements, which was time consuming and laborious. They had one package for software discovery and another to complete the license reconciliation, which required preliminary data export and cleaning stages. Rather than purchase the additional modules from their existing supplier to integrate these processes, GNM decided to upgrade their SAM capabilities and switch to another product which offered inventory management and reconciliation as a standard part of the product.

“As an integrated, consolidated solution, [the new product] offered better value for money and improved asset visibility,” explains Dini Alim, Compliance & Asset Manager at Guardian News and Media. “Although opex costs are the same, we get more functionality with a next generation tool and everything is integrated into a single product.”

Due to the multiple stages involved, software inventory reports were previously run once a month, which took two to three days and needed to be analyzed at a single point in time. Now, the whole process is fully automated and integrated, which means it can be scheduled more frequently, saving time and providing more up-to-date information. “[Now we have] useful information right away which is updated on a daily basis,” says Dini Alim. “Not only do I have access to inventory data whenever I want without additional work, I have more time to focus on other critical areas like entitlement negotiations.”

Usage Patterns and License Re-harvesting

One particularly beneficial feature in the new product is software metering. This gathers data across all applications within the Guardian’s estate, providing an accurate view of software usage to support licensing negotiations and decision-making.

In addition to seeing usage frequency and duration, this product can identify who is actually creating files within an application, rather than just viewing them. Using this information, GNM can identify where software is deployed but not used regularly. This information allows GNM to re-harvest licenses for higher value software applications including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Visio and Project. “[The] data has been invaluable when re-negotiating Tier 1 vendor agreements, which saves us money by avoiding unnecessary spending on new licenses when we can re-assign entitlement to those who need it most,” says Dini Alim.

Benefits and ROI

Guardian News & Media has significantly improved the efficiency of its SAM activities through exploiting the technologically advanced features of a next generation solution. Accurate reporting improves time management and real-time utilization data enables more effective software contract renegotiation. Cost prevention is improved. The new processes and automation achieves these goals by allowing GNM to consolidate license optimization and save valuable resource time. “[This project] has simplified my role and made us more efficient as an organization. [This implementation project] has enabled us to combine cost optimization and prevention with more traditional compliance activities,” says Dini Alim.

Looking to the future, SAM will become more important as a business function for GNM, because licensing rules are forever changing and SAM technology is developing. It’s an ongoing process because GNM has hundreds of applications from different vendors to track, which needs to be done in stages. “In the future, as licensing changes to emphasize having named users or cloud-based registrations, there will be a greater focus on analyzing what products people are using and how. We are confident [that automation] will continue to evolve its functionality to provide all the capabilities we require as standard,” concludes Dini Alim.