Cloud computing created a fundamental shift in the way we think about acquiring and using IT hardware, software and services. With resources decoupled from physical infrastructure, the cloud enables an unprecedented self-service approach to technology. Anyone with a browser and a credit card can deploy apps and services as necessary.
The speed and fluidity of this process creates powerful benefits — as well as significant challenges. Traditional management tools built for siloed, static, on-premises resources have not translated well to dynamic cloud environments.
Less than 20 percent of IT professionals say their companies can accurately monitor their public cloud environments, according to a 2019 report by Dimensional Research. Seventy percent said dynamic cloud environments are hard to monitor because users can deploy new software, services and infrastructure on demand at any moment.
To improve visibility and enhance cloud management, many organizations are adopting cloud asset management (CAM) solutions that create a complete end-to-end view of the cloud ecosystem, even across multiple clouds. CAM solutions accurately discover and inventory cloud apps in use across the organization, provide granular insight into app usage and help ensure compliance with software licensing terms.
CAM solutions are a step up from traditional software asset management (SAM) solutions that keep track of how on-premises applications are sourced, licensed, configured and utilized. SAM tools built to track applications running on in-house servers don’t provide much insight into software accessed through one or more cloud platforms.
Ad-hoc cloud purchases create a challenge for conventional SAM solutions. According to one report, as much as 40 percent of technology purchases today are made without IT’s knowledge or consent, and some analysts say it could reach 80 percent in just a couple of years. This lack of visibility inhibits IT’s ability to manage, control, and predict costs.
Even if you know what you’re working with, managing licensing requirements for cloud-based apps can become quite tricky. Unlike on-premises software licenses assigned to a single, dedicated physical server owned by the company, software in the cloud runs on shared servers owned by cloud providers. That creates unique licensing requirements.
In the cloud, software is acquired with month-to-month subscriptions, but there can be a wide range of options that affect pricing. Some vendors base cloud licensing on the number of people using the software, others charge per processor or core that the software runs on and others base pricing on actual usage metrics.
Microsoft licensing for its cloud options has become particularly complex over the years — there are more than 300 different licensing options for Office 365 alone. Salesforce also has a reputation for creating licensing headaches. Usage of the CRM app tends to grow organically over the years with the additional of new users, new tools and new data sources. Over time, organizations often find they are paying for unused licenses and multiple instances of the software.
Power of Automation
Managing software licenses in public cloud environments has become a top-of-mind issue for IT professionals, according to Flexera’s most recent State of the Cloud survey. Respondents said key challenges are understanding the cost implications of licensed software running in the cloud (52 percent), ensuring that they in compliance with licensing requirements (42 percent), and the complexity of license rules in public cloud (41 percent).
CAM solutions address these challenges with increased levels of automation. Automated discovery tools identify assets across cloud instances to ensure that all cloud-based resources are accurately identified and inventoried. License management tools automatically reconcile licenses against your app inventory and apply advanced analytics to identify and eliminate unused or duplicate licenses.
The use of cloud resources creates the foundation for digital transformation initiatives, and organizations will continue to leverage cloud software, services and infrastructure in the near term. Without the ability to accurately monitor and manage those resources, companies run the risk of losing control of the cloud environment. Give us a call to learn more about using CAM solutions to drive increased cloud efficiency.