By Vincent Smyth, General Manager EMEA, Flexera Software
Corporate IT budgets are expected to grow by just 2.0% this year, with OPEX surpassing CAPEX for the first time since 2009, according to recent research. The research suggests an increased focus on business-led IT, meaning that CIOs and their teams are operating in a more advisory capacity, as employees outside of corporate IT make more technology decisions than ever before. This rings true – innovation in the enterprise today is to a large extent being driven by software applications – look at the consumerisation of IT and cloud trends.
To better connect employees to the world of business applications, organisations are setting up enterprise app stores, giving employees iTune- style access in the corporate environment.
While both employees and organisations benefit from enterprise app stores, there are risks and rewards for the organisation. IT wants to look like a rock star — delivering technology that employees love and use every day. But at the same time, IT doesn’t want to experience the aftermath of when the enterprise app store rollout is not thought through and executed properly.
So what can IT do to ensure its super star status without an embarrassing fallout?
Reduce Licence Compliance Risk
Greater employee access to applications via an app store means potentially broader use, and therefore greater risk of inadvertently falling out of licence compliance, which increases the cost exposure for organisations. Most software vendors have the right to audit their customers’ use of their software built into their contracts. If non-compliance is found, vendors issue true-up for licences the organisation is using, but has not paid for. Often, in addition to the true-up bills, organisations also incur penalties.
The latest Flexera Software survey shows that 75% of enterprises are out of compliance on at least some percentage of their software; and 44% of enterprises said they paid $100,000 or more in true-up costs to their software vendors as a result of noncompliant software use.
On the contrary, if enterprise app store initiatives are executed properly, they can deliver the desired benefits as well as actually reduce licence fees and costs.
Streamline Front-end and Back-end IT
Fundamental to organisations’ success in delivering consumer-friendly enterprise app stores is the ability to streamline the front-end and back-end IT infrastructure. IT must integrate the app store with back-end software licence optimisation and Application Readiness (i.e. compatibility testing, remediation, packaging, deployment readiness) processes, across the lifecycle of every single application. This ensures that employees have timely access to a well-stocked repository of applications from any device, anytime, anywhere – while pre-empting unexpected risks and costs of unforeseen software usage.
The number of licences a company has rights to, and the specific manner in which those licences are entitled to be used – i.e. its licence position – plays a key role in managing an enterprise app store. If an enterprise issues licences it doesn’t have, or those licences are issued in violation of specific entitlements in the licence agreement – the enterprise can expose itself to penalties.
The enterprise app store should provide safeguards preventing access to and download of applications that are unavailable due to licensing and entitlement restrictions. With built-in app store capability to alter the approval process based on ever-changing usage of applications, licensing requirements and entitlement rights; enterprises can adapt quickly to licence availability limitations and prevent non-compliant use that would subject them to software licence audit risk.
Organisations that have integrated their enterprise app store with their software licence optimisation systems are much better armed with the tools necessary to make real time decisions around licensing. It also allows faster business decisions and more sophisticated cost controls. And it provides the end user access to applications without increasing audit exposure risks due to non-compliant use.
An app store integrated with back-end software licence optimisation processes and technology also provides for much more efficient license reclamation or reharvesting – the process of reclaiming applications that aren’t being used by certain employees, so that they can be redistributed to those that actually need them. This enables the organisation to save costs while avoiding having to purchase new software licenses when perfectly good unused licenses are waiting to be reharvested.
With these fundamental systems in place, the enterprise app store will deliver the feel of consumer app stores that end users are comfortable with – and the organisation will simultaneously ensure central accountability and control.
Partner with Employees to Reduce Software Costs
With users demanding the freedom to choose their applications with an enterprise app store, ideally they can be empowered to partake of the responsibility for licence compliance and waste reduction too. Businesses now have the ability to design their enterprise app stores in a way that gives employees visibility into the usage and cost of software licences installed on their devices – so that they understand the true cost of the applications they’re using, and don’t inadvertently hold on to applications they don’t need or use applications outside of the compliance guidelines.
For instance, alerts can be sent to users notifying them of policy infringements such as when an application hasn’t been used for a specified period of time (say six months), or if there is no record of a licence associated with software found on an employee’s device. Similarly, to encourage employees to optimise their software licence usage, software policy scores can be granted indicating how closely applications installed on their devices comply with corporate policy.
Enterprise app stores can make IT look good – getting applications to employees in an environment as intuitive and friendly as the consumer-based app stores they’re already used to. But IT can only do this if they take the necessary steps to tie together the back-end with critical processes to ensure accountability and control. After all, the responsibility of compliance still rests with them.