Microsoft toolkit targets licensing pain

The tool breaks down the software management process into simple steps, aiming to save companies money — and keep CIOs out of jail
Written by Sylvia Carr, Contributor

Microsoft has unveiled a toolkit to help UK companies get control of their software licences.

The Customer Software Asset Management (SAM) toolkit, available starting on Tuesday on the Microsoft UK Business website, breaks down the software management process — which Microsoft UK licensing programme manager Ram Dhaliwal admits can be "daunting" and "complex" — into three steps: taking software inventory, checking licences and matching software with licence.

The toolkit also offers tips on developing procedures for software management within a business and finding partners to help with the process.

Dhaliwal said the idea is to help businesses get more out of their software over the long haul. He said: "Software asset management is not a one-off event — it's an ongoing process and set of policies for organisations."

Microsoft is promoting three benefits from proper software management — security (from controlling which software users have access to and staying on top of patches), cost savings (from making sure businesses don't have more licences than they need), and legality (from preventing the use of improperly licensed software).

The toolkit is intended for businesses small and large and offers the choice of doing it on their own or working with a partner — this choice was a key request from customers Microsoft worked with to develop the toolkit. As all organisations have different software needs, they didn't want a "one size fits all" approach for SAM, according to Microsoft's Dhaliwal.

He said: "Customers requested they want more choice in how they license software. And with that choice comes some complexity."

The push to help businesses better manage their software coincides with the rise of a new BSI standard for software asset management which launched in May.

A recent poll of CIOs revealed IT chiefs believe software licensing is too complex.

Paul Broome, IT director at 192.com, said: "With upgrades, 'rental' licences, and licences tied to specific hardware, it's crazy difficult to manage and properly budget for. Microsoft-type licensing tied to specific hardware gets my goat, where any hardware change is like moving house but being forced to leave all your furniture behind, as it's not acceptable use to relocate it in your new house."

This complexity has been said to be one of the main attractions of software delivered as a service as opposed to as a CD installed on a computer.

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