SAM Managed Service Wins the University Challenge – Case Study on Managed SAM Services

By Carel Gouws

Founded in 1992, Nottingham Trent University is a large, popular teaching and research university in the UK. The University is investing heavily in new IT systems, including free iPads for some students.

NTU’s small SAM team manages 7,600 fixed IT assets used by 2,500 staff members and 24,000 student users. Typical of an educational institution, its IT environment is heterogeneous, with on-premise applications (from software publishers including Microsoft and Oracle) residing on a mix of Windows and Linux platforms, plus an increasing number of cloud-based subscription licenses. While the original business driver for SAM was the need to manage compliance for key software vendors, the SAM team is now responsible for managing software assets throughout their lifecycle, as well as negotiating future license agreements.

Initially, NTU used a combination of different tools to identify software assets and manage entitlements. However, the SAM team found that managing this hybrid solution took an excessive amount of time and did not provide trustworthy results. Problems ranged from an inability to manage concurrent software licenses to no visibility into the non-Windows IT estate.

Chris Toseland, Service Transition Manager at Nottingham Trent University, explains: “Each month, we would spend days extracting and cleaning data to create reports that could only verify two thirds of applications installed. Because of the manual input required to over-ride system rules, it became faster to complete the task manually using spreadsheets than with our incumbent solutions. We needed to find a more effective SAM solution.”

NTU sought advice and opted for a “Managed Service” based on an advanced hosted SAM platform. This service delivers all the benefits of a traditional on-premise SAM solution such as cross-platform capabilities and dynamic software recognition, but without the responsibility for managing the platform and data on a daily basis. Ultimately, it meant that NTU’s small SAM team would be free to concentrate on using the wealth of SAM management information available to achieve cost savings and business improvements.

“We needed a SAM solution with strong cross platform capabilities capable of auditing our ever growing non-Microsoft estate and our new SAM platform gives us this, with a single, accurate version of the truth.” He continues, “Being a small team, we were spending far too much time on SAM maintenance and switching to a more advanced, hosted solution was a logical progression.”

This decision proved an ideal choice for NTU because the solution they selected provided multi-platform coverage and automatic software recognition of all commercially licensable software through a Software Recognition Service (SRS). Like many organizations, NTU is also devoting more of its software spend to cloud-based and subscription licenses. As such, the ability to track cloud apps and report on usage was also a key factor in NTU’s migration decision.

Since deploying its new hosted SAM solution in 2013, NTU is now confident that it is at least 99% compliant with all its licensing obligations, compared with just 60% using the previous SAM technologies. “We have already successfully defended our licensing position during Microsoft baseline audits, and can now recognise products out of the box that our former tools didn’t know existed”, says Chris Toseland.

In terms of other ROI achieved, NTU has realized initial monetary savings which are expected to grow as use of its hosted SAM platform matures. This includes identifying that only 20% of the 500 licenses purchased for one software vendor are actually used, enabling the SAM team to reduce the licensing costs by £30,000 (US $50,000) as part of the renewal negotiations. SAM compliance and cost avoidance are now tracked continuously and included in the university’s “high-risk register” for senior management to review.

The use of SAM data to enhance management information has expanded beyond the SAM team to include service desk and end user support teams. In the future, NTU hopes to use location-specific data within the SAM solution to schedule lectures requiring specific IT resources according to the information about the software installed on individual workstations. “Being able to provide this level of support would enable timetabling teams to become more self-sufficient when allocating resources.”

SAM data is also making a measurable contribution to NTU’s commitment of ensuring students have the best possible student experience. Visibility across the IT estate means the SAM team can ensure students are always using the most up to date software versions, giving NTU’s graduates an edge once they arrive in the workplace.

“Last year’s satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey was 86% and our goal is to be in the UK’s forty top ranked universities, a target we’re well on the way to achieving.”

Based on a case study by Snow Software

About the Author

Carel Gouws is the Professional Services Manager for Snow Software Inc.