Licensing models for software have changed dramatically over the last decade, largely as a result of the greater number of cloud-based offerings, the growing number of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions and mainstream adoption of virtual environments. But while these changes to software licensing have, in some respects, been confident regarding budgets and buying power, they have brought their challenges when it comes to the complexity they can add to environments.
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These days, many IT managers tend to over-license software, either because they have failed to re-assign licences when decommissioning or commissioning hardware or to safeguard themselves from falling foul of any audit. While this approach may provide a safety blanket, it comes at a cost as money is wasted on licences that aren’t being used – and may never be. But worse, if companies are unable to get a grip on their licensing regime, they could be guilty of under-licensing. This could potentially leave them at risk if there were to be an audit.

Fast Paced IT Changes Are Not Reflected In Licensing Models

Licensing for network management software is nowhere near as advanced as you might imagine. This has created a huge headache for IT teams because the software touches all aspects of the modern and highly sophisticated IT infrastructure. As a consequence, purchasing can be tough, with organisations forced to buy separate licences for applications, network devices and network flow sources.
Worse, these licenses are often inflexible and difficult to scale up without incurring significant cost and negatively affecting their return on investment because of the artificial licence bands set by vendors. This becomes even more of an issue when IT teams have to deal with multiple software companies.

Is There A New Way?

Essentially, what network management needs is a variant of the pay-as-you-consume model that is evolving for IT hardware and some types of cloud-based software. This would provide companies with a more flexible licensing model that addresses the overall network rather than a complex and unwieldy model tied to individual devices, applications or network flow sources.
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Organisations would no longer be required to buy technology specific licences for applications, network devices or network flow sources because they would all be included. This would enable them to reallocate the permits wherever and whenever they need without additional cost. IT teams would have freedom to restructure their monitoring requirements at will while eliminating the artificial limitations that result in the unnecessary expense of unused, technology specific licences.
How would this work? One option is to adopt a points-based system that assigns points to the network devices, servers and virtual machines/hosts, applications and users being monitored. A significant advantage of the points system is it provides organisations with the flexibility to purchase a set of points and use them to control any mix of technologies (e.g., devices, applications, flow sources, virtual machines, etc.).
IT teams can configure their points any way they like. As long as managers stay within the points tier they have purchased, they never have to pay for additional licences. As they add more devices or applications, they only buy more licences, but they are not forced to buy specific permission types. Compare this to traditional licensing schemes that force people to acquire licences locked to specific network devices, applications or network flow sources.

Conclusion 

A flexible licensing system is much more suited to the dynamic and agile IT systems of today because it allows organisations to make changes to their licences quickly and effortlessly as and when they make changes to their network. There is far less potential for IT teams to be left with available licences, to lose track of licences when they make changes to the mix of technologies being monitored or to purchase additional licences they don’t need.
Networks may well be more complicated, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them easier to manage.