One of the biggest challenges with managing licenses is dealing with variation. Let’s take a well-known vendor such as Adobe. Over time, their products will be named differently. For a single product and version you may huge variations in naming such as ‘Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional’ or maybe ‘Acrobat Pro 8’ or maybe just ‘Acrobat Professional’. Very quickly things become complex and convoluted and if you can’t even normalize the product names, how can you have any hope of knowing what you have installed and whether you have counted something more than once?
In addition to its ability to find and reclaim unused licenses across the entire environment, AppClarity has an incredibly sophisticated heuristics engine which takes all this raw information from Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and transforms it into usable data.
The first step is to strip out all of the stuff you don’t care about for license management such as drivers, software updates, patches etc. Then we crush all of the variants down into a single Publisher and Product so all the variants of ‘Acrobat’ regardless of how obscure, become ‘Adobe Acrobat Professional’. Finally, we hide the non-licensable software since you’ll probably not need to worry about that either (although you can bring it back if you like).
But don’t just take the theory at face value; I’ve seen this in action. Whilst at a client site looking at their software deployment data and comparing it to their in-house license management application, some discrepancies were found. AppClarity was, in some cases, displaying several hundred application installations different from their own system. Clearly we had to investigate.
It turns out that the discrepancies rested with the fact that some of the ‘installations’ of products were simply products that had been long-since uninstalled but left remnants behind. Their system still flagged these as installations but AppClarity filtered them out immediately.
There were a large number of machines that had upgraded from one product version to another at some point and their existing method was counting the installations once for each version. For example, Acrobat 7 upgraded to 8 would be counted twice. Once again, AppClarity came through by dealing with the variants and eliminating the duplicate records. In fact, when all was said and done, AppClarity’s data was proven to be spot on.
The last thing that I did before leaving site was to generate a license liability report for the client for one of their major vendors. Using AppClarity, we were able to generate the report in about 10 seconds, which would have traditionally taken him several weeks to pull together so needless to say he was very, very happy!
1E’s AppClarity, AppClarity or ‘AC’….whatever you want to call it, Rocks!