Unless you live on a deserted island, you have probably heard of the IT Infrastructure Library–commonly referred to as ITIL. If you haven't, see IT Gets It in the March/April 2005 issue for more information on ITIL (novell.com/connectionmagazine/2005/03/tech_talk_2.html), or take a quick look at the What Is ITIL sidebar.
What you may not be as familiar with, is the importance of software asset management to successful ITIL implementations, or even that there is a specific ITIL book dedicated to Software Asset Management (SAM). ZENworks Asset management can play a key role in automating and supporting several key ITIL best practice areas, including Software Asset Management and Service Support.
This article reviews ITIL best practices and summarizes how ZENworks Asset Management functionality can be mapped to specific ITIL guidance in these areas.
Software Asset Management
While many ITIL projects are centered around Service Support and Service Delivery, the ITIL guide to Software Asset Management is gaining traction as a process framework for managing enterprise software assets.
ZENworks Asset Management offers IT managers a host of capabilities that support and enable ITIL initiatives including Service Support, Service Delivery along with Software Asset Management; however, the focus of ZENworks Asset Management is in dealing with the complexities of IT assets, and software in particular.
The ITIL Best Practices for Software Asset Management Guide defines SAM as: "...all of the infrastructure and process necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the software assets within an organization, throughout all stages of their lifecycle."
The ITIL SAM Guide consists of 10 chapters that outline everything from SAM basics to tools and technology. In the following sections, we map specific recommendations and guidance to ZENworks Asset Management capabilities to show how the product supports this important framework.
Since ITIL deals fundamentally with process, much of the guide addresses recommendations around policies, procedures and related documentation. As such, only those sections and recommendations directly related to tools and technology are addressed in this article.
ITIL Best Practices to ZENworks Asset Management Mapping
Chapter One: Introduction
1.4 SAM Principles
A scalable, structured approach needs to be adopted in order to achieve [SAM objectives] for each organization.
It is impossible to implement an effective SAM process without the successful design, development, implementation and maintenance of an accurate SAM database, automatically updated from the live infrastructure.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management provides a way to organize SAM-related activities around a structured, scalable database.
ZENworks Asset Management offers a complete, automated inventory process, including:
- agentless network-wide discovery
- agent-based workstation/server inventory with numerous automated scheduling/scanning options
- optional input forms to update inventory data
1.5.1 Managing Risks
SAM facilitates the management of significant business risks including:
- legal and financial exposure
- damaged reputation
- unexpected financial workload impact
- security breaches including unauthorized disclosure of confidential information
- unexpected problems with acquisitions/mergers/demergers
- interruption of operations
- unsupportable operations
ZENworks: By enabling an effective SAM program and ensuring compliance with software license provisions and intellectual property laws, ZENworks Asset Management helps address the key risks outlined in ITIL Best Practices for SAM guide.
1.5.2 Controlling costs
- better negotiating position
- improved strategic infrastructure planning
- prevention of software over-deployment
- reduced hardware costs
- improved software purchasing arrangements
- reduced cost of internal licenses support
- reduction in process and direct infrastructure costs
- reductions in problem-resolution costs
- potential tax benefits
ZENworks: With a single location for software asset information, ZENworks Asset Management enables an organization's database; you gain the ability to control and reduce costs associated with software licenses, upgrades, maintenance and support.
1.6.5 Potential issues for implementing SAM
Underestimating the effort required to identify installed software.
ZENworks: Accurately identifying software applications (not just files) is a core strength of ZENworks Asset Management. Using a unique, patented approach based on a Knowledgebase, built and maintained by Novell Technology Analysts, ZENworks Asset Management identifies and distinguishes:
- normalized manufacturer, product, edition and version
- suites and suite components
- OS and app service packs/releases and OS hotfixes
- serial numbers
- virus definitions/engines
- evaluation versus full product installs
- runtime versus full version distinction
- language editions
- locally defined products, for example, in-house applications
1.9.1 Overall baseline recommendations
Inventories: Create and maintain accurate inventories of software and hardware assets including costs, with secure control over access to software assets, for example, proof-of-license and distribution copies of software.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management offers comprehensive hardware and software inventory. Software purchase information and proof-of-ownership data can be imported or input to support license counts.
1.9.1 Overall baseline recommendations:
Reconciliations: Perform regular reconciliations of the following and resolve any identified exceptions promptly:
- what is actually installed against
- what is recorded against
- licenses owned
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management includes several methods and tools to facilitate the reconciliation of the license view of software inventory to purchased products, including:
- Reseller connectors (CompuCom, Softchoice, SHI and Software Spectrum)
- Product catalog to aggregate individual purchases and ensure one-time reconciliation
- Autoreconcile tools to match purchased products to discovered products
Chapter Two: Context
2.1 Special characteristics of software assets
- Software is frequently upgraded and license conditions can change with each upgrade
- End users are asked to agree to licenses during installation and are sometimes asked to install and run other programs as evaluation software.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management addresses these software specific challenges:
- Upgrade license records in ZENworks Asset Management can be linked to base licenses to create a relationship and record license amounts properly
- The sophisticated software inventory methods used in ZENworks Asset Management distinguishes between full and evaluation software for many major manufacturers and titles.
Chapter Five: Process Overview
5.2.1 Core Asset Management processes Asset Identification
ZENworks: The core capability of ZENworks Asset Management is asset identification and tracking related asset attributes.
5.2.2 Core Asset Management processes Asset Control
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management uniquely identifies assets and tracks them through their lifecycle to ensure proper control.
5.2.3 Core Asset Management processes Status Accounting
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management tracks configuration details from scan-to-scan and provides comprehensive history reports to show changes over time.
5.2.4 Core Asset Management processes Database Management
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management is based on a core database that is optimized for asset tracking and reporting.
5.2.5 Core Asset Management processes Financial Management
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management allows you to record software purchase information, including costs, to provide a financial basis for decision-making and analysis.
During the process of the internal order, a check should be made as to whether there are already any available licenses to be used.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management Web Console provides IT and procurement managers easy access license compliance reports that show critical information in one view:
- licenses owned (entitlements)
- licenses consumed (installed)
- over/under license status
- software usage levels
This information is automatically updated as purchase records are imported and inventories are refreshed. So, managers can clearly see when licenses are available to be deployed.
There need to be corresponding procedures to formally transfer the license if management is handled on a decentralized basis.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management includes a license allocation feature that allows purchased licenses to be allocated and reallocated based on department, site, cost center and workstation.
During the deployment stage, all components of a release are deployed to their agreed and approved environments.
ZENworks: Using ZENworks Asset Management in conjunction with ZENworks Suite, IT managers can align operations with SAM and license compliance data to ensure that deployments do not cause compliance violations.
5.3.7 Operations/Monitoring ongoing operations relevant to SAM
Identify individual exceptions to SAM policies, for example, instances of unauthorized software installed on workstations immediately or soon after installation.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management offers several ways to archive this best practice:
- With the unique Knowledgebase approach to discovery, software is categorized to help IT managers identify applications that may be problematic. For instance, common malware is categorized and IT managers can be alerted to its presence on managed workstations.
- ZENworks Asset Management allows IT managers to create their own categories for applications, for example, nonstandard, so they can report and alert based on their own policies.
5.3.8 Software deployment optimization
Active software usage (as opposed to just installation or availability) should be reviewed periodically to determine whether deployment corresponds to end-user needs.
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management includes comprehensive software usage tracking and analysis. Once enabled, it automatically tracks usage of all applications and correlates it back to known applications within the Knowledgebase. Data tracked includes:
- active usage time (foreground window)
- runtime (total time opened)
- number of starts
- last used
5.4 Verification and compliance
Any truly effective SAM process will have automated methods for trapping noncompliance issues and escalating them to the appropriate resources for immediate attention.
The SAM process should not only be capable of trapping and escalating these issues but also to instigate remedial action.
ZENworks: Within the ZENworks Asset Management Web Console, IT Managers can set alerts for out-of-compliance situations. These e-mail alerts can be tailored based on severity, for example, quantity of under-licensed situations, so they can be sent to the appropriate levels of management.
Using ZENworks Asset Management in conjunction with ZENworks Suite, IT managers can take corrective action to uninstall applications to correct compliance violations. Of course, this only makes sense if the license is not needed, which can be easily determined through software usage information in ZENworks Asset Management.
8.9 Current purchase records
Organizations can benefit from having access to current purchase records. Some resellers offer a download capability into in-house SAM systems for recording all licenses purchased for use in License Management.
ZENworks: In addition to supporting a general import format, ZENworks Asset Management includes reseller connectors (currently including CompuCom, Softchoice, SHI and Software Spectrum) whereby specific reports of license transactions from these resellers' Web sites can be downloaded and imported directly into license tracking in ZENworks Asset Management.