And the latest is ...
In this series we'll cover the foundations of SAM, and what they mean.
Data is the essence of SAM, much as it is with most of technology. It's all there, somewhere, amassed over time, stashed away in the recesses of the organisation. It may exist (hopefully) in electronic form, or (lamentably) physical records filed and stored, most typically both. So we know the data's out there, the question is how - and where - do we start?
The first step is to determine what data sources you can tap into, from the raw systems themselves through other collection platforms you might run such as CrowdStrike, Microsofts SCCM, IBM's ILMT, HCL's Bigix Inventory etc. With larger organisations the issue is always completeness - be it running agents or agentless via remote extracts - how do we know we're capturing everything we should ... and that can be a much more difficult proposition than it seems.
The approach is to source as much data as possible and compare it, merge it, blend it, and massage it to get the best quality information you can - the issue today is not so much sourcing the data, its how to filter through it to find what's important, and to do that you'll need tooling.
That means firstly figuring out what is most workable - and also most repeatable. This could be as simple as providing system logins to run application specific extracts, or remote connectivity as a centralised administrator, or even integrated access via API's. All act as feeds to your SAM system that will then do the hard data crunching and reporting work for you (for which ComplianceWare's pandas driven analytics engine is purposely designed).
So that covers the inventory side of things - collecting the deployment information and associated identifiers (ie. the editions, statistics, capacities etc) necessary to derive your consumption levels, but then you'll need the associated Contracts and Licensing material as well to compare to your entitlements and establish your compliance position, and that's where things can get tricky.
Most organisations - even those that are largely centralised - have some degree of local procurement (all the way down to problematic credit-card purchases) that make it difficult to collate the full and complete record of ownership. So you'll need to start with what is known, match that to the inventory you have identified exposing the shortfalls and gaps, and go looking for those great unknowns.
This can be a long and even fruitless exercise at times, sometimes reliant purely on the knowledge of individuals (if they're still with the organisation that is), extending from business to technology teams, from legal to procurement, all depending on how controlled and robust the procurement processes are. The key here is to capture that information so its recorded and available from there on, and the whole exercise doesn't have to be repeated (as it would in the case of audits).
Ideally your SAM system then allows you to maintain that connection of inventory to entitlements, organised by the contracts they were acquired (and operate) under. Any compliance issues can then be dealt with in a managed and controlled way, along with the potential benefit of savings from license consolidation, decommissioning, harvesting, or reuse, but we'll cover that in Series (#2).
And the kick - data collection isn't a one-off, its an ongoing process that should be repeated as often as necessary based on the frequency and fluidity of change in your environment. On the plus side, once you have established the process it becomes much easier and efficient to rerun, and depending on your SAM system gain more intelligence each time (for example, ComplianceWare can compare different data captures and report the differences so that you can quickly identify what's changed, and what might need attention).
Key takeaways then are:
Keep in touch for the upcoming SAM Foundation Series (#2) - Compliance Reporting.