SOS delivers crystal clarity on information ecosystems and opportunities for reform

It is 35 years since the personal computer first debuted as a genuine enterprise efficiency tool and over the ensuing decades organisations have continuously expanded their IT systems and networks.

Computers have been added, software bought, replaced, updated. Networks have been expanded and servers have sprawled. Companies have added technology through mergers and acquisitions. They have embraced cloud computing, and witnessed the dawn of shadow IT where business users circumvent the IT department to buy access to IT systems that fit a particular need.

Keeping track of the sprawl is a labyrinthine problem. But it’s a problem that must be addressed.

Unless an enterprise has clarity regarding installed systems, or number of users, it exposes itself to significant risk. It may be paying too much for software licences that aren’t actually being used; it may be paying too little, exposing itself to the risk of audit and unbudgeted spend.

It may be reliant on outdated platforms that are no longer vendor-supported introducing security risks and business continuity hurdles. Important enterprise data may be siphoned off to cloud platforms without proper governance or oversight.

To impose proper order and good governance, an effective approach to IT asset management is required.

Filipa Preston is the founder and CEO of Software Optimisation Services, which she established in 2011 as an independent advisory practice that she dubs the “Switzerland” of software licence compliance and IT asset management.

The Switzerland comparison is apt; Preston and her team have no vested interest, they are not beholden to any software vendor, they are not captive to any internal team’s objectives. Instead they offer an independent, clear lens on an enterprise’s usage of hardware, software including user licensing– establishing clarity and laying down the foundations to allow a business to optimise IT operations and reduce enterprise risk.

That clarity provides important foundations during vendor negotiations, when software licence agreements are being struck or a software licence audit is required. As Preston notes it “takes the shock out”.

Recognising the importance of the work that Preston and her team perform, Microsoft this year named SOS the winner of its Worldwide Partner of the Year for Software Asset Management.

It’s one of a record haul of seven Australian winners of the 2016 awards, which celebrate Microsoft’s rich partner ecosystem. Winners this year were selected from 2,500 entries from 119 countries, and a further four Australian organisations were also finalists.

To deep dive into an organisation’s Microsoft licensing SOS uses Movere, a Unified Logic SaaS solution on Azure, which automates the inventory, collection, analysis and visualised reporting of IT infrastructure data through a customer-specific portal. Armed with Movere and a determination to uncover exactly systems an enterprise relies on, and the workloads underway, Preston and her team map out the current IT systems landscape and the interdependencies that exist.

When compared to the architectural sketches that the CIO might cling to, and the licence agreements with vendors, Preston’s reports can prove a surprising – though deeply enlightening – read.

She describes it as a form of information systems hygiene; “Our practice is about leaving you with no loose ends. You know what’s really going on – you can either choose to fix them, or not, but there are no loose ends.”

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