REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 18, 2006 – Over the past year, Microsoft has worked closely with its customers and industry partners to help implement a process for more effective management of software assets within organizations. Key to implementing an effective Software Asset Management plan is putting people, processes and technology in place to enable the effective management and control of software assets.
Juan Fernando Rivera, Director, Microsoft Worldwide Software Asset Management Program
To learn more about Microsoft’s plans to expand its Software Asset Management program, the investment Microsoft is making in it to provide benefits to customers and industry partners, and the company’s areas of focus in the future, PressPass spoke with Juan Fernando Rivera, director of Microsoft’s worldwide Software Asset Management program, who is presenting at Gartner’s IT & Software Asset Management Summit in Orlando, Fla. this week.
PressPass: What is Software Asset Management?
Juan Fernando Rivera: Software Asset Management is the entire infrastructure and processes necessary for the effective management, control and protection of software assets within an organization, throughout all stages of their lifecycle. As an industry-recognized business process, Software Asset Management is a way to help organizations realize greater value from their IT infrastructure. There are different aspects of Software Asset Management: First is the recognition of software as an investment, not an expense, and as such it needs to be maximized. Second is management and control of those software assets, meaning having good purchase records, knowing if what was purchased is what’s being used, if what’s being used is what was purchased, if it’s legal, authorized, etcetera. Third is a process that covers all stages of the software lifecycle, knowing when updates are needed, when renewals take place, or when it’s time to retire an asset.
PressPass: How does Software Asset Management work?
Rivera: There are four steps customers should take to implement an effective Software Asset Management plan. First, they should perform a software inventory to find out what software assets their company currently has and/or is using. Second, they should perform a license reconciliation by locating the license documentation for each software asset in their possession. Third, they need to review policies and procedures to assure good Software Asset Management techniques. Finally, a customer should develop a Software Asset Management plan to use moving forward. There are four key elements of a sound Software Asset Management plan: trained people; solid processes to manage software lifecycles and company IT practices; the right technology and tools, and a partner for consultation on supporting in-house talent.
PressPass: Why does Microsoft care about Software Asset Management?
Rivera: By definition, Software Asset Management is about the customer. We want to build customers for life, and a way to do this is by helping customers maximize the investments they make in their software assets, as well as help manage and control them. There’s a long list of benefits of implementing a sound Software Asset Management process, including cost control, risk mitigation, security and compliance. Customers will be happier as they will know exactly what they have and, more important, what they need. They will be using what they’ve paid for and will have paid for what they’re using. Educating customers on Software Asset Management and assisting them in implementing a solution is also one of the means by which we’re gradually shifting to taking a more preventative approach to dealing with illegal software.
PressPass: What are some of the more common misperceptions about Software Asset Management?
Rivera: The most common misperception is that Software Asset Management is just about compliance. As such, some customers with whom we have engaged initially think it is an audit. Software Asset Management is about educating and empowering customers to be able improve their business operations and ROI on technology. As a side benefit, we want to ensure that users of our software are compliant so they receive all the benefits that come with a license. Compliance is just a by-product of a proper Software Asset Management business process implementation.
The second most common misperception I hear from customers is that Software Asset Management is just some sort of inventory management tool. Some customers don’t realize that Software Asset Management is much more that that.
A third common misperception is that Software Asset Management is just about licenses, when in fact it covers the overall infrastructure of IT assets. And many businesses think it’s strictly an IT problem, when in actuality it’s a business process that involves HR for writing the processes and procedures, legal professionals for effective negotiation, and several other constituents within a business.
Finally, many customers think Software Asset Management is a quick fix. On the contrary, it’s an ongoing business process that manages and protects software assets and licenses throughout their lifecycle.
PressPass: What are some of the investments Microsoft is making in Software Asset Management?
Rivera: Microsoft’s investments in Software Asset Management fall into three pillars:
The first is the overall Software Asset Management Value Proposition. It covers educational offerings for customers and partners, attendance at non-Microsoft events where we’ve been able to broadly share valuable knowledge, and investing in tools and content, available at no charge on our public Web site. Today customers can go to our SAM Web site at www.microsoft.com/sam and access resources like the ROI assessment tool and Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer to get started on Software Asset Management. In addition, Microsoft recently acquired AssetMetrix, a major tool provider whose technology we plan to incorporate into our products such as Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003. We have also participated with other industry organizations to provide input for the development of the ISO 19770-1 Standard on Software Asset Management, released in May this year, that addresses policies and procedures for businesses. We will continue to provide input and feedback on the development of part 2 of the standard, targeted at software vendors, that focuses on software tagging and asset identification.
The second pillar of investment is the Partner Ecosystem. Under the Microsoft Partner Program, we invested in the development of the Licensing Solutions Competency that includes a Software Asset Management Specialization. In order to qualify for the specialization, we developed a Software Asset Management MCP level exam and supporting courseware, currently available in eight languages. We’re also making investments in partner education, including an online playbook that Software Asset Management partners can use to guide them though conversations with their customers, and additional content accessible at dedicated partner websites. Our goal is to ensure that when customers approach us about Software Asset Management we can direct them to partners we know are trained, certified and can deliver the right services.
Our third pillar of investment is Customer Engagement. In several countries around the world we’re engaging directly with customers and, with the help of qualified partners, inviting them to participate in Software Asset Management Reviews where together we will review their current situation and guide them through the process of putting a business practice in place.
PressPass: What role do Microsoft’s industry partners play in Software Asset Management?
Rivera: Microsoft’s partners play a very significant role. They are the ones touching the customers on a day-to-day basis. We see a tremendous opportunity for partners to offer valuable consulting services to our mutual customers that will help them maximize their IT investment and, in the process, help them protect their business.
PressPass: What are Microsoft and other industry leaders doing to help organizations realize the full value of Software Asset Management?
Rivera: Software Asset Management is at the same stage that customer relationship management technology was a few years ago – a lot of momentum, but very few people understood the real value of it. As a leader in approaching customers about fully understanding the value of their assets, Microsoft is working closely with other software vendors, partners and industry organizations to develop tools and standards and increase awareness among customers and partners about the benefits of Software Asset Management.
PressPass: In the area of Software Asset Management, what are some of the things Microsoft will be focusing on in the future?
Rivera: Software Asset Management is here to stay. It’s about the customer and it’s our responsibility to make it easier for them learn about Software Asset Management, realize its importance, and adopt it as a core business practice in their organizations. We will continue to make investments on the three pillars I mentioned earlier and put a special emphasis on education and tools, support of international standards, and building the right partner network to address customer needs.