Redmond Negotiator

Accurate Thinking

Knowing what you have (and having the ability to prove it) is key to saving money on your licensing fees.

Way back in 1908, a young reporter named Napoleon Hill was assigned to interview Andrew Carnegie -- who, at the time, was one of the richest and most powerful men on the planet.

Instead of granting a normal interview, Carnegie instead gave the reporter the assignment of a lifetime: Carnegie would provide introductions to over five hundred of the most successful people of the time, so that Hill could discover the common threads, the key factors required to become successful that these top performers shared in common.

No, I haven't abandoned Microsoft licensing to become a motivational speaker, but I would like to point out a couple of observations:

  • Andrew Carnegie was the Bill Gates of his time. Read his Wikipedia bio and know that Mr. Gates has studied Carnegie and Hill's works. Perhaps you should too?
  • Hill did interview over 500 of the "players" of his day, and eventually distilled their collective wisdom and experience into 17 Principles of Success. One of them is "Accurate Thinking," the real topic of this column.

Accurate Thinking. What does it mean and how can we use it to get a better deal from Microsoft? Hill's definition is straightforward, but very long so I won't repeat it here. But some of the key concepts are:

  • Recognizing both the "good" and "bad" facts and truths of life.
  • Listening to and even seeking out other opinions and views, but not blindly accepting them -- seeking instead testable, provable facts.

I constantly see Microsoft customers in need of accurate thinking in the area of their current licensing compliance situation. Too many times, customers don't know or can't prove whether they are fully in compliance with Microsoft's licensing rules. This means they have to negotiate from a position of weakness. Even if you have more licenses than you need (which is common), you need to be able to prove it.

These days, there are plenty of tools to help you discover, install, manage and track your software installations on both servers and desktops. Whether it's SMS or Altiris, or HP/Peregrine AssetCenter or Novell ZENWorks or any of dozens of other products, you should have some automated method to find and keep track of the software that's installed in your environment.

One of the challenges with many of these tools, however, is that they often discover "too much" data, making it hard to easily distinguish between software versions, suites versus individual apps and filter out all the extra executables that come with Windows.

A solution seems to be on the horizon: I've been talking with Steve O'Halloran, who was one of the founders and chief architects of AssetMetrix, who (until Microsoft bought them last year) offered a hosted software discovery and license management service, which included very simple and accurate filtering and reporting to convert all that raw data into useful reports for managers.

Since Microsoft bought AssetMetrix last year, O'Halloran has started a new venture called AssetLabs. The big idea behind AssetLabs is "how to make sense of the raw data that your software inventory tool discovers"

AssetLabs will be a "Web 2.0" service designed to transform your PC inventory/network management application into an ITAM-dashboard and an IT-budget forecast calculator. Unlike AssetMetrix (where you had to use a their inventory tool and submit the inventory to their Database), AssetLabs will securely download the asset management "analysis" to be used with your PC inventory data on-site, allowing you to identify applications and PCs that are a risk to your organizations licensing, policy, compliance and budget requirements. The software also promises to forecast costs for licensing, support termination and warranty deadlines, and you can get compliant with upcoming ISO-19770 standards (ISO Software Asset Management) as well as support an ITIL-based DSL (digital software library).

AssetLabs are currently looking for beta testers. So if you're interested in accurate thinking about your licensing compliance, contact me via scott@microsoftsecrets.com and I'll put you in touch with AssetLabs.

About the Author

Scott Braden has helped more than 600 companies negotiate Microsoft volume license deals. For a free case study, "How a Mid-size Company Saved over $870,000 on a $3 million Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, in Less Than Three Weeks," visit www.MicrosoftCaseStudy.com.

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