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Are You Sure Your Software Is Properly Licensed?

Fri, 08/10/2007 - 8:03am

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The Project: Maintain a clear and easily accessible record of all software licenses and hardware specifications.
The Solution: Utilize PC inventory and software usage tracking technology to ensure license compliance and hardware needs.


W.W. Williams, founded in Columbus, OH in 1912, is today one of the nation’s largest industrial distribution firms with locations in 13 different states. The still-growing company, widely regarded as a technology leader for its industry, has added to its already-impressive list of achievements by successfully implementing a comprehensive IT and software asset management (IT/SAM) program.

This program, which includes innovative PC inventory and software usage tracking technology provided by Seattle-based Express Metrix, has enabled W.W. Williams to take great strides in effectively tracking and managing its software and hardware investments. As a result, IT staff and senior management at W.W. Williams now rest easy with the knowledge that they have the tools to monitor software assets throughout the company for license compliance and to ensure that the IT investments they’re making are the right ones.
Express Software Manager provides critical data on an organization’s license compliance status.


The sheer quantity and variety of software and hardware assets owned by W.W. Williams contributed to a pressing need for the company to streamline its IT inventory processes, and gain a better handle on deployed software. Most importantly, IT staff at W.W. Williams were faced with the daunting challenge of ensuring that all of the company’s licenses were compliant, and finding ways to make “smarter” decisions about software and hardware purchases.

“Before implementing new IT/SAM technology and processes, we were trying to manage our IT and software assets using an antiquated system that simply wasn’t addressing our needs,” according to Julie Wilkinson, Information Systems Support Lead with the company’s Information Systems Department. “We were tracking our software and hardware assets manually, using disorganized reams of paper, and our older IT asset tracking program lacked a software inventory component which would allow us to associate critical licensing information with those assets.”

“We were also very concerned about whether our software inventory practices would satisfy the requirements of our annual audits,” Wilkinson added. “Our auditors wanted us to keep better track of our software, and to see how we were tracking and inventorying our assets. We definitely needed a system that would ensure that we were compliant on all levels.”

Not only did Wilkinson want to avoid being underlicensed, but she wanted to ensure that W.W. Williams was not overlicensed. According to Wilkinson, “We wanted a way of knowing not only what assets we had, but how to make the best overall use of them. Could we repurpose our software in many cases, for example, rather than automatically buying new licenses?”

“Since introducing Express Metrix’s IT/SAM technology, with a few clicks of a mouse, we can now access the inventory details associated with each individual machine such as the computer’s name and its last user, a list of all software titles and versions, and the licensing information associated with that software,” Wilkinson added. “These capabilities are key not only so that we know who exactly has what software on their computer, but whether any employees have added new software to their computer, and whether that software is licensed. Now we are so much more confident about our compliance status and our ability to tackle our annual audits. We can also zero in on detailed hardware statistics ranging from a computer’s IP address and processor speed to its RAM information and when it was last inventoried.”

Express Software Manager lets IT professionals identify disparities between number of software licenses installed, purchased, and used in order to avoid both overbuying and underbuying software.

When it comes to cutting costs, W.W. Williams has achieved notable savings by avoiding unnecessary software purchases. “By implementing technology that allows us to track the actual usage of our installed applications, we’ve saved on our software expenses,” Wilkinson noted. “Now we know the number of software licenses installed and being used at any given time. We know right away which software is not being used, and now can repurpose and reallocate our existing licenses.”

W.W. Williams also has reduced hardware expenditures and IT overhead since rolling out an automated system for tracking its PCs’ hardware capabilities. Previously, the company had replaced approximately one-third of its computers every year, in order to ensure that the hardware was adequate for employees to do their jobs. With Express Metrix products, Wilkinson can now pinpoint which computers actually need to be rotated due to insufficient processor speed. “By having this information at our fingertips, we’ve found that we can delay rotating an average of 40 computers for another year,” she said.

Wilkinson also noted the impressive time savings W.W. Williams has experienced since automating its IT/SAM processes with the right kind of technology. “The amount of time we save relative to our previous system is just phenomenal,” she said. “Since I don’t have to travel to all of our locations to inventory our assets, I’m literally saving hundreds of hours for the company each year. This certainly adds up to a healthier financial bottom line for us.”

Whether Wilkinson’s team is embracing the peace of mind that comes from achieving full license compliance; enjoying on-demand, organized access to every piece of software and hardware information throughout the company’s locations; or, savoring the many dollars saved on hardware and software savings the company has achieved to date, the result is clear—adopting a comprehensive, ongoing IT/SAM initiative has proven to be well worth the investment.

ONLINE
For additional information on the technologies and products discussed in this article, visit the following websites:

  • www.wwwilliams.com
  • www.expressmetrix.com

    Kris Barker is the CEO of Express Metrix. Barker can be reached at 206-691-7900 or kbarker@expressmetrix.com.
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