Licensing as a Service Excerpt from Client4Cloud: I Speak Virtual

We are all on the brink of a major industry paradigm shift from machine/system centric solutions to user/service centric. The paradigm is being fueled by key factors that are impacting the overall industry as a whole.  Those factors are:

  • Upcoming Digital Native Workforce  (Consumerization of IT, BYOD, BYOL) are less risk adverse
  • Compliance – growing visibility to Cyber terrorism, Hactivists, and License compliance, and business directive concerns
  • More with Less Trend – IT budgets are stretched as are their resources.  The major trend is vendor consolidation, alternative solutions and models (subscription, etc.)
  • Global – Mobile Workforce – devices are no longer just a tool but a trend and status symbol.  A greater number of knowledge workers participate in a flexible work style.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own License (BYOL) trends – while more workers are bringing their own devices – cloud providers are telling Enterprise customers to bring your own licenses at your own risks.

Licensing as a Service- What is it?  Why care?

Paradigm shifts present significant opportunity for new technology and innovation in a disruptive market.  During my research for Visible Ops Private Cloud (ITPI 2011) and Client4Cloud (Client4Cloud 2011) – nearly all of the interviewees from the Vendors, to the analyst but most importantly the customers indicated that the real opportunity around Cloud is hybrid environments.  Achieving hybrid clouds will be difficult at best due to limited solutions and controls over applications.

Few customers have a strong understanding of their licenses usage for on-premise systems (desktop to the data center), resulting in more questions for customers than solutions or answers at the moment.

What does a Licensing as a Service Solution provide?
Visibility and control across all the 4 major areas in the stack – Users, Apps & Data, Management (fabric), and the cloud (enabling technology).  Licensing as a Service aggregates the handshake to enable visibility across the Cloud Service Providers, Cloud Service Brokers, Software Vendors, and Enterprise.

The opportunity for many will be figuring out the handshake, what it means for the consumers (from SMB to Enterprise) and how to reduce impact to enable both hybrid clouds and user centric computing.

Without a Licensing as a Service solution customers will struggle with increased costs by paying both the Service Provider to rent a license as well as their current Enterprise agreements.  Without these solutions many will continue to experience “Cloud Stall” similar to virtual stall (Andi Mann J).   Client Stall is also another byproduct of poor license posture.  For example, several customers that were interviewed reported having to remove their systems management tool from their virtual desktop infrastructure or to leverage a terminal services solution such as Citrix XenApp because of the issues caused from a mass proliferation of licenses due to machine centric solutions.

What can customers do today? Client4Cloud defines the base principles of the challenges that occur with the machine centric approach.

1)      Move Away from the Machine! Companies will first have to shift their processes, technology and resources toward a user and application centric approach based on service portfolios.

2)      Invest in Planning and Analytics.  You have to know what you have before you can figure out what you need.  Orchestration and Optimization only happen after you Cut through the Cloud Clutter and Design Your Services Not Systems. (Visible Ops Private Cloud, 2011).

3)      Understand where the biggest risks are and work with your vendors.  There are so many places within a virtual environment that applications can be lifted and shifted to.  Virtual applications and/or machines can hide.

4)      Ask Vendors to “Share” the responsibility for accurate discovery.  If vendors say you can run your applications in the cloud, hybrid clouds or virtual desktops – they should provide a way for you to control and have visibility over your purchased licenses based on the use rights provided in your agreement.

Without having a strong handle on license position and processes in place that are geared toward user and application centric environments – companies will continue to struggle with their cloud and user centric universal client implementations.

More will be available in Client4Cloud: I Speak Virtual and on www.client4cloud.com.

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