SAM Is Blind Without Good Inventory

Good inventory is more than knowing how many physical and virtual devices you have.  It’s more than knowing that you have Microsoft Office installed on 80% of your devices or that someone has installed a copy of Microsoft Project on to his laptop.  Good inventory starts with having hardware and software information for 95% of your landscape – and that’s already challenging to achieve.  Then it’s having detailed information about each piece of physical and virtual hardware as well as knowing the details of the software installed on each device. That includes software title, publisher, version, and edition.  It also includes knowing the primary user of each device, which is critical for some of the more licensing calculations (e.g. Oracle Database licensing).


Good Inventory is Critical for Software License Reconciliation

Some licensing agreements are device based and some have second use rights.  Some are CPU based and some are core and socket based.  Others are even more complex with a combination of user or CPU, whichever is higher.  Some allow multiple versions to co-exist on a single machine.  Some have virtual machine restrictions. So, to get to software license compliance you need all the inventory details that affect the license compliance calculation.  Let’s take a look at a few examples to see why getting “good inventory” is so important.


Microsoft Second Use Rights

For certain desktop applications, Microsoft allows the licensed software to be installed on a desktop machine as well as a “portable” device if used by the same primary user.  This translates to a single user being able to install a licensed software application on both a desktop and laptop with a single license.  In terms of inventory, this means we need to identify the software, the primary user, and the chassis (laptop vs desktop).


SQL Server Per Core Based Licensing

If SQL Server is running on a physical machine, all physical cores must be licensed.  There is a minimum of four core licenses per physical processor.  In this case, the inventory would need to identify whether the device was a virtual or physical device and how many processors and cores per processor existed.  Unlike Second Use Rights, the primary user and chassis type are not considered in the license consumption calculations.  For more details on SQL Server, check out Greg Misso’s blog on SQL Server licensing.


Oracle Database on Virtual Machines

Oracle database licensing is one of more complex models.  Oracle Named User licensing depends on the number of users using the database.  This number is usually determined by the number of users registered in the Oracle database itself.  So, for inventory we need to look inside the database.   However, before the number of users can be considered, it has to be compared to the processors used to run the Oracle database.  When computing the processor value for Oracle databases, the number of cores, CPU type and clock speed need to be considered.  Also, if the database is running on a virtual machine, the physical host is evaluated for number of cores, CPU type and clock speed.  If the database is in a VM cluster, that cluster has to also be considered.  In that case, the contents of the database have to be included as part of the inventory.  And, there are yet more factors like the machine’s role (test, backup, production, etc.).


Getting and maintaining good inventory can seem daunting, but it is critical for effective software asset management. And with the help of the tools we’ve developed here at Flexera, it’s probably much more attainable than you think. Complex licensing terms dictate the need for some very detailed inventory attributes, but once you have the data, it can also benefit other processes in ITSM, Security, procurement and finance. For more on how Flexera helps you get to good inventory, check out our latest FlexNet Manager for Data Centers.

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