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License Management – Recording the Current Software Usage

August 1, 2014

The practical aspect of license management deals with how to map the software products purchased to the actual installations on your IT systems. This step will require less effort than gathering the commercial information. But again, this is a task requiring diligence. If you are following our Project in 5 Steps documentation series, you will already have inventoried your IT systems with Docusnap. Great! Then, you can start right away, as the inventory data related to software installation and required in this process already exists. If this information is not available yet, you need to perform this step first. Inventory all software installations on your computers. This includes gathering information about the installed software products on Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems.

If you previously collected the commercial data in an Excel sheet, now enter them into the Docusnap database. For a detailed description of how to enter contract-related data for software products, please refer to the Docusnap User Manual. This task becomes particularly interesting if you need to specify licenses that include rights for upgrades and downgrades between software versions. If you are in doubt, rely on a license specialist to ensure that the information you enter is really correct. Sometimes, software manufacturers “enrich” their license agreements with rather peculiar regulations and options. For Microsoft software alone, a huge number of different options exist. They are due to the different language versions, the installation on terminal servers, or the conditions in software maintenance agreements.

When performing the inventory scan, Docusnap reads the (often very cryptic) software keys. During the installation of the application, they were entered into the registry. Of course, this applies only to Microsoft operating systems. For Linux and Apple operating systems, other mechanisms are used, there is no such registry. It goes without saying that Docusnap is capable of scanning these installations as well. In Docusnap, you manually link the software keys to the software products, and even minor installations, such as that of a service pack, may change this key, while the software license you purchased is still the same. For this reason, it is possible to map multiple software keys to a single software license (1:n relation). By using wildcards, you can define them on rather variable criteria, if desired. This reduces or even avoids rework if the software manufacturer decides once again that the key has to be changed a little bit.

The growing tendency to use software licenses for cloud-based programs, such as Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud, do not make this task any easier because licenses obtained for these products also need to be included into license management. For these reasons, license management can become a really complex and time-consuming task. It will probably take some time and multiple passes until everything is been documented correctly. Make sure that a dedicated employee is nominated as license manager. Otherwise, all efforts will come to nothing.

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