Making Software Licensing Easier: Peter Bjorkman, CTO, Snow Software

Making Software Licensing Easier: Peter Bjorkman, CTO, Snow Software

This week, Peter Bjorkman, CTO of Snow Software was asked various questions related to software asset management.

Published on 21st May 2018

Software Asset Management (SAM) is an essential mandate for CTOs/ CIOs and their teams. Why is SAM strategic to an organization and how can IT leaders create buy-in from business leadership for investing in it

CTOs and CIOs need good quality data to base their business decisions – they need to understand how technology is being consumed, what it costs them, and what value it is generating.

To do this, they need clear visibility not only into the traditional IT environments within the organization, but also into the digital technology used or accessed throughout the organization. Software Asset Management provides CIOs and CTOs with the level of transparency required to make the appropriate decisions to manage technology risks and costs while providing business value and supporting business innovation and agile work.

What is Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) and what advantages does it offer to organizations? Does it complicate the process of software licensing? How can CTOs ensure they have the correct license for VDI consumption?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allows organizations to offer a managed workplace (e.g., Windows 10) as a service available from any device, such as a thin client, mobile device, or external laptop (e.g., contractor).

The primary benefit is flexibility in devices used to access corporate IT functions, and the downside is the difference in software compliance considerations.

When using a VDI desktop image you do not need a license for the operating system of that virtual machine. However, you need a license for each device/user that accesses that virtual machine with a VDA license. Similarly, you need a license for the software running on the virtual machine based on the number of users/devices that use the software on the virtual machine or has potential access to use the software on the virtual machine.

VDI does not necessarily have a negative effect of your software compliance and software spend if configured correctly, but it definitely needs serious consideration before being deployed in the organization.

Snow’s customers have the benefit of having the license requirements for Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licenses automatically calculated, taking Software Assurance (SA) into account, and offers the ability to detect the use of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in the organization.

What is Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) and why is it significant for large, connected enterprises? What is expected from the CIO in developing a sustainable UEM strategy?

Managing your entire end-user computing estate from one platform has great potential to improve control and offer a stronger mobile experience. There is pressure to deliver information to staff whether they are on a corporate machine, corporate mobile or personal mobile. The CIO is expected to help solve this issue by providing access but at the same time reducing the risk of data loss or security issues. A sturdy UEM product has the potential to deliver both outcomes.

How will the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance requirements impact CIOs and how can they support their functional counterparts to manage the risk optimally?

GDPR is impacting CIOs in two ways. First, it generates discussion on the technical elements needed for compliance – for example, can we search for personal information in each application, what is our retention period, and so on. Secondly, it has led to greater interest from businesses on where their data is stored and how to protect it.

In my experience, these risk-based discussions surprise functional leaders when they discover just how much personal data they are holding.

By enforcing the need for data privacy questionnaires, challenges and ownership questions surface that were not previously being addressed.

How do you see the relationship between the CTO’s office and business impact changing? What are your top tips for CTOs to align more effectively with the business goals of the organization?

As far as digital transformation is concerned, businesses are undergoing a radical shift in the way they work. Digital technology underpins everything we do, and as a result, the CTO’s role needs to extend beyond IT strategy and into business strategy, helping business leaders to source the products and services they need to grow their business successfully. Business leaders do not necessarily consider that they are sourcing technology – they are buying services or outcomes.

CTOs need to learn to communicate effectively in business terms and demonstrate that they understand the issues and opportunities that business leaders are dealing with, in order to ensure that the technology underpinning these solutions will meet business needs. It’s important not just to spend time with business leaders and end-users, but also to interact with customers and the products and services themselves.

Tell us what your customers are saying. What are the biggest challenges IT leaders face today? Is there any significant difference between the challenges faced by CIOs at B2B and B2C enterprises?

I think IT leaders are facing a real issue with digital transformation as all businesses recognize the potential to gain efficiencies, leapfrog competitors and sell more effectively. Just look at the impact on the high street, and you can see a tangible impact that digital can have on business.

Although technology has become more critical, it is moving out of IT and coming under the control of the business functions.

IT must remain relevant and provide value by managing those technology choices, controlling costs, and providing consultancy. One of the first challenges to overcome is to have visibility of the software used across the organization for a complete picture of the organization.

Is the SaaS world making CTOs redundant? What new skills do IT leaders need to develop to thrive in today’s connected, DIY, SaaS business environment?

This depends on the CTO. Although business leaders can bypass IT and procurement to source the services and technologies they need to deliver business growth, they still need to research their options carefully. Where the CTO is engaged with the business and seen within the organization as an expert in both, technology and the business, then business leaders will seek out advice and guidance in their technology choices.

It is becoming more common to see CTOs sitting outside the IT department as organizations acknowledge that technology strategy applies across the organization rather than just to what is owned and managed by internal IT.

To survive and thrive, CTOs must not only acquire in-depth business knowledge and have access to detailed data about technology consumption but also develop the communication and influencing skills needed to establish their place as a trusted advisor and expert to whom business leaders will naturally turn for advice.

What are the top five factors impacting software spend right now? What trends do you observe in the way CIOs are prioritizing their spends?

CIO priorities reflect those of CEOs. So, they need to consider how they can support business growth, increase profitability, and deal with cybersecurity threats.

The trend towards cloud-based services is continuing, not just for SaaS but increasingly for IaaS as well.

At the same time, device proliferation continues as end-users are accessing these cloud-based systems from multiple devices and using smartphone-based access for business. Although this platform isn’t suitable for all business activities, the ability to deal with transactional tasks and communication across a range of channels rather than being restricted to desk-based exercise is supporting the more agile, flexible, and collaborative way that people work in when it comes to digital businesses.

What is a technology asset? Does the traditional taxonomy still fit for classifying IT assets? Do you believe a fixed taxonomy is at risk of becoming irrelevant as new technologies develop?

A technology asset is any digital technology that creates (or should create) value for the organization. While traditionally ITAM has been concerned with IT assets – owned, managed, and controlled by IT; in the age of digital business, we need to provide governance that embraces the entire digital ecosystem. To do this, we need to move away from a hard and fast taxonomy (hardware/software) that restricts us and build methodologies that enable organizations to determine what digital technology they need to manage as an asset based on business priorities.

If we just stick to managing traditional hardware and software, we risk being left behind as new asset classes don’t fit into these boxes. We’ve already seen the arguments about whether subscription licenses and SaaS should fall under the remit of SAM (they’re still software, so in the past, that’s justified putting them into the software box, although not without a lot of discussion and disagreement), but now PaaS, IaaS, and even BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) have started raising issues. There is no logical reason that these services can’t be managed through ITAM best practices, but they don’t fit into either the hardware or software box, which means that organizations are often abdicating responsibility for managing them effectively.

As cybersecurity functions struggle to manage the risks associated with these services, ITAM needs to step up and take responsibility for treating these as assets and ensure that security professionals are appropriately supported with good quality data. Likewise, finance and other stakeholders.

What are the key trends in the IT landscape that are exciting for you right now?

Machine learning is an exciting area of interest for us and one we will be investing in, going forward. I believe it will radically improve our ability to quickly assess and mitigate risks in our IT landscape by constantly monitoring and calculating real-time events in the business. Snow Software already produces vast volumes of actionable data. And it’s the validation, filtering, processing, and benchmarking of that data to generate the necessary business intelligence, that will benefit from the support of machine learning.


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