As I was reflecting on my beginnings in license management recently, I remembered how complex and opaque the subject seemed at the time. I was fresh out of university and had little experience in the IT industry. But I was determined to prove myself in my new job.
For me, license management always had something to do with mathematics and the need to bring together two sides that were only vaguely familiar with each other: the technical side and the commercial side. The technical side was about finding out what software was installed, while the commercial side was about the licenses purchased – with or without maintenance. This is still the case today, but the technical side has become more automated. My colleagues and I used to spend many hours building a fingerprint mapping – an Excel file with many hundreds of entries of scanned files that had to be classified. Today, we can simply search the Internet for the name of the product.
The commercial side was also complicated back then. SKUs were few and far between, and you could only find out the version chains with painstaking research. If you had a license with maintenance, the next question was: up to which version did the downgrade right apply? Many of our customers had licenses on paper – sometimes even on cardboard – in cupboards and basements. Some licenses that must have been available never appeared again.
A lot has changed in recent years:
- Almost all companies have established license management as an independent topic with responsible parties.
- There are more people involved in license management.
- Software manufacturers have constantly come up with new and more complicated metrics.
- Probably every company uses virtualization, and almost all manufacturers have introduced special regulations for use in virtual environments.
- Software from the cloud (SaaS) has been invented and is becoming increasingly popular.
- Software is increasingly being rented rather than purchased.
- License management tools provide extensive catalogs with SKUs for licenses and recognition rules for installations.
The tasks of today’s license management have grown. It is no longer a question of finding out whether an installation is an Office Standard or an Office Professional. Tools can evaluate that today. Instead, it is about selecting software according to ideal metrics and using cloud products in such a way that nothing is booked online that is not needed. The focus is on cost optimization, not compliance.
License management still has something to do with mathematics and two sides that only vaguely know each other still must be brought together. How has license management developed in your company? We find it exciting to get to know the development in your company.
Managing Director and Licensing expert of SAMtoa GmbH