The Importance of Tracking Usage

Different perspectives mainly focused on the optimization of cost, specifically optimization of cost tied to the actual usage of software and licenses

If I had to narrow down in a single line the high-level concept of parameters evaluated during SAM sessions, it would come down to Entitlement versus Deployment. This is something that has been a staple of our jobs for years and years. It’s a very very easy way out of trying to describe something extremely complex on the back end, but ultimately, it always comes down to these two.

Entitlement – What do we own?
Deployment – What did we install? What do we consume?

After identifying the above two parameters, we would go ahead and compare, create our Effective License Position, and answer two questions:

Are we compliant?
Can we optimize?

In my almost decade-long experience, the compliance question always overshadowed the optimization questions, for a multitude of reasons, mainly the neverending complexity of actually managing Software within an Enterprise, having enough resources to make sense of the variety of license models & license metrics used by Software vendors, all the neverending changes and constant looming threat of a software audit.

All of the above has already been talked about, and I’m sure, even at the 2024 ACE, we will hear some amazing new insights into the topic.

However, in this article, I’d like to offer a bit of a different perspective, mainly focused on optimization of cost, specifically optimization of cost tied to the actual usage of software and licenses.

So what is usage, and how do we define it here?

Usage has been a staple term in monitoring Engineering & Specialty licenses, specifically due to the nature of the licensing models, predominantly still focused on concurrent/floating licenses, where the actual deployment of the software matters a lot less, what matters is if the application is actually running and therefore consuming a license.

Disclaimer – these ideas do not apply broadly, there are certain license models and applications, where tracking usage simply does not make sense, for example, due to the nature of the contract or the nature of the application itself. We can all agree that tracking the usage of your Windows 11 license does not make sense, if you have an end-point, you have to license.

Recently, however, some vendors started overlapping between the standard SAM deployment metric and the more Usage-focused metric of the Engineering world.

Case in point, Adobe Document or Adobe Creative Cloud.

I spend a lot of time talking to organizations worldwide, especially enterprises, and most of them openly admit that they don’t have any control of the Adobe licenses while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the annual subscription cost.

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

– Users request a Document or Creative Cloud license daily.
– If the organization is smart, there’s at least a direct manager approval required for the license to be assigned, however, the manager most of the time just hits the approve button and gets back to their work.
– License is assigned and the deployment process is triggered.
– The user edits a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat or resizes a photo in Adobe Photoshop and never starts the application again.
– The license keeps sitting there, assigned, the application is deployed.
– In today’s fast and pressured environment, everything is forgotten
– 20 days before the subscription renewal, a request comes to evaluate the contract, however, there is no data available.
– Are the users using the software? Who knows?

There are tools available in today’s market that allow the tracking of usage of the applications on end-points, usually through an Agent deployed on the Workstation.

Such a tool can give detailed information on when the application was started, when was it stopped, and how long the user used the license.
While it may be cumbersome to add another Agent into the environment, especially when looking for a broad enterprise-wide deployment, the benefits outweigh the hurdles. Plus, it’s not required to put Agents everywhere, an Agent can be deployed as part of the application deployment, smoothly and easily, and the License Administrator can get any Usage information immediately.

Next time, we may deep-dive into what goes into analyzing the usage data and making informed decisions.