IBM Pulse Showcases Latest SAM Offerings (Apr. 15, '14)

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IBM Pulse Showcases Latest SAM Offerings

IBM announces alliance with Flexera for license optimization add-on tool, plus confirms plans to add ISO software ID tags starting mid 2014

By Steven Russman

The IBM Pulse conference in Las Vegas is a favorite of mine and this year's event was bigger than ever with more than 400 sessions and 10,000-plus attendees. IBM dubbed the event, "The Premier Cloud Conference," and it was that and more—from security and analytics, to optimizing IT and service management, and managing and securing the mobile infrastructure.

Focused sessions on license management and SAM
The number of mobile devices used in the workplace continues to grow, and with it the proliferation of company-owned software running on employee and company owned laptops, tablets and smart phones. Securing corporate data stored on these devices is becoming a top priority for users. Plus, changing license rules from Microsoft and others make companies that offer the bring-your-own-device option liable for additional fees and usage charges. To learn more, I attended a presentation by Paychex, a payment services company, on how it uses IBM's Fiberlink MassS360 platform for mobile device data management.

I was impressed with Paychex's approach and give it high marks for its investment in mobile device management, data protection and network security. But no mention was made of license management and I asked why. Company representatives told me that license management and compliance are handled in another department and are not part of this phase of the program. Clearly, for Paychex, as with many companies, license management just may be an afterthought and not integrated with infrastructure and change management, and this leaves the organization exposed in the event of an internal or external software audit.

IBM Alliance with Flexera
IBM announced to a packed room an alliance with Flexera Software for its software license optimization tools, filling a gap in the IBM toolset. IBM has a huge investment in SAM via its outsourcing and services business and, as its customers' SAM maturity improves, demand for SAM services and tools has increased. I wasn't surprised to see IBM business partners and professional services firms Deloitte and KPMG on hand to answer questions and talk about the offerings. The firms offer SAM tool implementation, process design and SAM strategy design services. Yet, as of publication, the companies were still hashing out the details and IBM execs declined to comment for the record. A formal announcement is due before summer.

Flexera has worked hard to upgrade its image and integrate its software license optimization (SLO) products, including modules for IBM, SAP and Microsoft titles. Flexera takes software data from auto discovery tools, including the free IBM License Metric Tool, cleanses it and applies logic and rules to create an effective license position. The good news for IBM customers is this new alliance offers one stop for automating the management and reporting of their IBM license inventory and compliance position (using a combination of IBM and Flexera tools). And for Flexera, it brings access to IBM's contacts in the customers' executive suites.

Aspera, Snow Software, Eracent and others, offer varying degrees of functionality and options in this area. Flexera offers BMC customers an integration with its autodiscovery tools (see BMC TAP Partner Product Directory, and BMC sources told me the company is also formalizing its alliance with Flexera. 

SAM panel falls flat
I found the panel discussion addressing developments in SAM a rehash of old news, but the bright spot was IBM's report on its efforts to incorporate software identification tags into its products. Company reps said coming releases of the Software Usage Analysis (SUA) module, due in the second half of 2014, will include ISO/IEC 19770-2 compliant identification tags, along with a software catalog for identifying and rationalizing software inventory data. Although SUA won't analyze and calculate your licensing position, it will tell you which IBM products are installed and used. In my view, IBM is the defacto leader in 19770-2 tagging, and its investment here will help it and its customers keep track of software use. I still think it's unlikely we will see widespread adoption of tags by other publishers, but IBM's work in this area breathes new life into this almost-forgotten standard.

Steven Russman is the executive director of IBSMA.

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