The impact of hardware on your licensing costs
By Matthew Poulter, SAM Business Manager at First Technology National.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to managing and applying software licences is that there are many variations available, depending on the solution businesses opt for. Licence rules also change regularly as vendors adapt to new technology, phase out old technology or update their solutions. Businesses can find it hard to keep pace with licence changes and renewals, but software asset management (SAM) can assist to ease the burden.
The IT hardware that organisations choose can have a significant impact on the cost of software licences. If a company does not understand the impact of their IT hardware specification decisions in relation to software licensing, they may find themselves spending more on licensing than anticipated. Moreover, the licensing rules that rely on hardware configurations may change, making it difficult for companies to keep up to date with changes in 'use rights' or licensing rules.
SAM enables businesses to understand licensing requirements so they are prepared when it comes to establishing the need for hardware specification or solution designs, says Matthew Poulter, SAM Business Manager at First Technology National.
Computer technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last few decades and that has had a substantial impact on how software vendors measure the use of their software. Licensing has accordingly evolved over the years, especially with the advent of cloud technology and the escalation in demand for capacity, performance and compute power.
The way licences are assigned has changed as computer performance has increased. For instance, in the past, you purchased a licence for each server. Then, as hardware vendors moved to include more processors into each server, so processor licensing was introduced. Today, many new servers have exceptionally powerful processors, and licensing can be applied to cores, threads or may even be specific to a particular type of processor.
As complexity is added and technology moves forward, it can often become exceptionally expensive to license an aging infrastructure with modern licences.
Ultimately, the business can end up spending more on licensing than is warranted, especially if their compute power requirements are over-catered for.
Planning your hardware
Often, when businesses select their hardware, they fail to consider the software requirements for that hardware. This is usually because the hardware is chosen by an IT team that may not have licensing backgrounds, therefore don't incorporate the impact of licensing when specifying a solution.
Then, there is the fact that hardware is predictable; businesses know what they are getting when they buy a tangible piece of hardware. Licensing is more abstract and, as previously mentioned, can be ever-changing. Because of its intangible nature, it can be easy to miss the licensing aspect.
It is advisable for hardware architects to have a software licensing expert on-hand when they are investing in hardware. It's easy to over-specify a solution, considering factors such as potential growth and catering for future requirements. Architects may opt to invest in high-powered machines with extensive compute power, which may not be necessary at that point in time.
Businesses should rather ensure that when they plan solutions, they understand how to apply licensing scenarios to give you the best functionality and performance considering the cost for the entire solution.
Know what you have
Businesses may already have invested in hardware and software licences, and may be unsure of what licences they have, whether or not they are in use and how to scale back. There may also be uncertainty about when to upgrade to newer versions or higher editions to best complement the latest hardware solutions available.
In such cases, and with planning new architectures, it makes sense to engage the services of a SAM specialist.
SAM brings the hardware and software components together, ensuring they are aligned and that both the software and hardware are in line with the business requirements. For existing solutions, SAM can provide insight into what licences are being used and where to eliminate unnecessary expenditure, or add licences where there may not be any. For new solutions, incorporating SAM can ensure budgets are maintained, and the overspending does not occur.