When ServiceNow stepped into the enterprise Software Asset Management arena with its Jakarta release, the effects were felt far and wide in the industry. From that beginning two years ago with its first software publisher packs for Microsoft and Oracle, ServiceNow made SAM Professional a priority for development, adding new features and publisher content with each subsequent release.
The Madrid release is no different, with a major new publisher pack, a reimagined License Workbench and new options for identifying reclamation candidates amongst the hundreds of new features ServiceNow delivered with its thirteenth city-named release. We’d like to give you a tour of the key innovations ServiceNow brought to SAM Professional in Madrid, along with a bit of our ITAM Practice’s perspective on how to get the most out this functionality when you’re ready to upgrade.
SAP Publisher Pack
First, the major content addition for SAM is the SAP publisher pack. SAP is notorious for being a complex, challenging license model to manage, along with being an aggressive vendor when it comes to compliance activity. This is ServiceNow’s first step forward into the SAP space and it focuses on Named User license metrics. In Madrid, ServiceNow collects user license details from an SAP environment to identify user access and named user assignments so that these can be reconciled against the rights granted by your SAP contracts and recorded in ServiceNow as entitlements. Now you can identify non-compliant scenarios for Named user licensing and optimize Named User assignments based on user attributes, saving you from a lot of headaches down the road.
The SAP Dashboard provides a good overview of effective license position (ELP) for the Named User metrics and can show opportunities for optimization, including the identification of inactive users, users without a named user assignment, and locked users with named user assignments.
Acorio’s view: This is a solid first step for SAP reconciliation. That said, we must emphasize “first” here; Named User compliance is useful, but the truly challenging metrics – Indirect Access and Digital Access in particular –are not here (yet). Still, this is a good foundation upon which to build, and ServiceNow’s track record assures us there is more to come in the SAP space.
The License Workbench represents a streamlined view of compliance positions in ServiceNow. Prior to Madrid, getting to a specific product and/or version compliance position required multiple clicks through the hierarchy of results, and comparing the specific to the summary required navigating up and down that hierarchy. In Madrid, ServiceNow updated the presentation to a tile-based summary view (a “single pane of glass”, if you will), and the summary information is visible in each tile as you move from publisher to product to version/edition and license metric.
In addition, the workbench has the following user experience improvements:
- Color-coded compliance banner
- Financial calculations on card
- Publisher pinning functionality (user specific, saved)
- Sort card functionality
- Active filtering
- Card drill-down to Product Results list
- Keyboard controls
- Group and subgroup reconciliation information, if applicable
Acorio’s view: Anytime you can improve the user experience though intuitive UI design, it’s a good thing. Customers will find the learning curve for this new presentation short; this will help with adoption when showing this analysis to new audiences.
Normalization and Content Service Dashboard
Two of the key value-add functions of SAM-P are the Content Service and the Normalization process which leverages the Content Service to provide consistent, clean data for publishers, products and versions. However, these functions operate mostly in the background and the intent of the Normalization and Content Service Dashboard is to provide visibility into these processes.
Now you can easily see your instance’s overall normalization rates for licensable software, as well as a breakdown by publisher. You can also observe the overall health of the content service by seeing the schedule for updates from the content data service and the delta between what is currently in the instance and what is expected to be synced by the content service.
Acorio’s view: Transparency into the performance of the content service is helpful for SAM administrators responsible for the accuracy of software analysis. This is helpful information that can provide important context towards the “freshness” of the normalized SAM data within an instance.
Reclamation by Last Used Date
For customers that use SCCM for software installation data, Madrid adds the ability to leverage Last Used Date as a condition to identify reclamation candidates. In previous releases, reclamation candidates were identified via SCCM’s metering rules to get total duration of an application’s use in seconds. However, this was dependent on your SCCM administrator having configured metering rules to collect this data, whereas Last Used Date doesn’t require configuration to be collected.
Now in Madrid, Reclamation rules have a new reclamation type of “Last Used Date” that can be compared against the “Last Used Time” on the Software Usage record and used to launch reclamation workflows.
Acorio’s view: This is a very useful addition. Last Used Date is both easier to understand, and in some cases a cleaner identifier of a reclamation candidate than usage from metering. An app that is used infrequently but consistently can fall into a “total seconds” reclamation rule as a false positive. An app that hasn’t been used at all in six months is much less likely to be a false positive. In short, an easier, faster way to achieve meaningful software harvesting and real hard-dollar savings!
Madrid also offers several smaller improvements and new features for SAM that add to the overall value of the upgrade. Some highlights include:
- The “Master” SAM plugin. Customers can now use a single HI request to activate all SAM-P content instead of having to open separate requests for each individual publisher pack.
- Automatic creation of software models. During a reconciliation, if unlicensed installs are found, Madrid can automatically create the Software Model for that install and create a Software Model Result to associate the unlicensed installs. This can be toggled on and off via system property.
- Reconciliation Progress Monitoring. When running a reconciliation, Madrid provides a progress bar on the reconciliation results list view (there is a ‘Progress’ column next to the ‘Status’ column). It’s not dynamic; you must refresh your browser to see progress, but it does give you an indication of how much longer a reconciliation will take to complete. There are also new fields for reconciliation results that document the step the reconciliation process is in, and a detailed step summary tab.
- Validation of Adobe Credentials. A self-explanatory feature here – if you are integrating to Adobe for subscription data, you can now validate the credential before attempting to pull all subscriptions.
From a SAM perspective, ServiceNow gets a lot of things right in Madrid and tees up even better things to come. If you’re looking to learn more about Software Asset Management, you should download our free ITOM eBook that covers how to most efficiently maximize your Configuration Management Database (CMDB). The relationship between your CMDB and IT Asset Repository is critical, and according to Forbes magazine, 85% of CMDB projects fail. To help you avoid joining this statistic, our ITOM eBook teaches you the “three C’s” central to powering successful CMDB programs.