As part of a new series of pieces on ITAMChannel, we will be speaking with a range of professionals from across the ITAM spectrum and asking them questions on a range of subjects.
For our first interview I had the opportunity to speak to Ed Rossi of Flexera Software and get his thoughts on a number of points.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Ed Rossi. For those unfamiliar, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Flexera Software helps application producers and enterprises manage software throughout the product lifecycle and increase the value they derive from their software. Our next-generation software licensing, compliance, security and installation solutions are essential to ensure continuous license compliance, optimize software investments and future-proof businesses against the risks and costs of constantly changing technology. Over 80,000 customers turn to Flexera Software as a trusted and neutral source for the knowledge and expertise we have gained as the marketplace leader for over 20 years, and for the automation and intelligence designed into our products.
I lead the Product Management team for Software License Optimization, the largest and fastest growing segment of Flexera Software’s business. My responsibilities include product strategy, planning, positioning and direction, with the focus on fulfilling our clients’ business needs and exceeding their expectations with world-class software solutions.
What first got you involved in the IT/Software Asset Management sector?
I started in this industry 20+ years ago, implementing an IT Asset & Software Management tool on client sites with a small start-up, before becoming a product architect, and then going into product management. Joining IBM through an acquisition, I was Program Director of Asset Management & Smarter Infrastructure – leading a team that drove corporate strategy, product direction and market management for their IT Service Management, Asset Management and Smarter Infrastructure software products with on premise and SaaS offerings. With most of my career in SAM and ITAM, I’ve seen how the tremendous changes in vendor license models, datacenter complexity and technology innovations changes have impacted this space.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the ITAM/SAM sector?
IT Asset Management technology has been available for decades and has been widely adopted to discover and inventory hardware. However, its limited ability to optimize software spend – in terms of ensuring continual compliance and eliminating software underuse and “shelfware” has given rise to an entire new industry that, in many respects, is supplanting traditional IT Asset Management: Software License Optimization. As Gartner recently noted, “[Software Asset Management] is expanding to fulfill what were once core ITAM processes,” (Hank Marquis, Market Guide for Software Asset Management Tools, Gartner, November 3, 2015). Software License Optimization incorporates traditional Hardware Asset Management and other functionality performed by ITAM tools. But Software License Optimization tools are more strategically aligned to software-centric organizations, and are focused on financial management of software assets. Software License Optimization solutions go beyond the basic “discovery and inventory” function and are able to reconcile complex license entitlements with software installation and usage to determine an accurate license compliance position and ensure organizations are buying only the software they need, and using what they have. Enterprises are realizing that there is significant ROI associated with having a mature SAM program that leverages the built-in intelligence and automation provided by next generation Software License Optimization tools.
In your opinion how has ‘The Cloud’ impacted on Software Licensing?
Organizations are accelerating their shift to the cloud. They’re moving existing on-premises applications to run in third-party hosted cloud infrastructure environments to save on IT infrastructure and support costs. They are also shifting to Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery of certain types of enterprise software. However, hidden potential costs and risks lurk for the unsuspecting enterprise undertaking cloud migration. Organizations must understand their software license “mobility” rights to know whether they can use existing on-premises software licenses in a third party cloud environment, for example. In many cases, software vendors are providing incentives to move their customers to the cloud. So, it’s also important for enterprises to understand their current usage of on-premises software so that they can potentially get “trade-in credits” for unused software licenses and/or maintenance that they can apply to cloud purchases. Also, cloud vendors are starting to drive up the ‘stack’, offering backend and middleware software as part of their IaaS subscription. When clients load their software into these instances, they need to track which software they own, which is included with the subscription. In most organizations, the application architects’ engineering cloud strategies are not responsible for software license compliance. Typically, the cloud customers themselves are still responsible for maintaining license compliance for software that is running on cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), so it’s important to have processes and tools that can provide this visibility and control across on-premises and cloud environments. For SaaS applications, compliance is probably less of a concern, but managing costs becomes an even bigger challenge.
Would there be a particular path you would recommend to those looking to optimise their Cloud Infrastructure?
Discussions of cloud benefits often focus on infrastructure and support savings by hosting applications in a public cloud. But how do organizations know whether they’re paying too much for their cloud infrastructure services and whether they are efficiently using their cloud capacity? Understanding how organizations are actually using their cloud instances (virtual machines) is essential to managing the investment in cloud services. This is the next big-thing in Software License Optimization. Having the visibility into cloud costs across multiple accounts and cloud utilization is critical to controlling costs and maximizing capacity utilization. Software License Optimization providers’ ability to collect and analyse this information will largely determine whether the promised savings resulting from public cloud usage will actually be realized.
I’d like to thank Mr Rossi for his time and invite anyone who would like to, or knows some who should, take part in our spotlight series to get in touch with me here.