Enterprise environments, by nature, are often cluttered with all sorts of licensed, previously licensed and probably some unlicensed applications and tools in various states of use. Think: Does your business maintain an install and uninstall record of all software? How well did your IT department document that project 2 years ago where you brought in all those contractors and software tools you haven’t used since? Did the project closeout include the uninstallation and/or decommissioning of no-longer-needed hardware and software? Based on what we’ve seen in the marketplace, the answers are not always, not well and not at all.
While this is an area that sits squarely under the umbrella of asset management, it also touches on compliance, and process and control.
Gaps in these areas create two very real problems.
1. An audit from a software vendor, say IBM, that reveals unpaid licensed software can generate large and unforeseen charges – especially if your company has grown substantially since the original install date.
2. Hackers are expert at exploiting the sorts of weaknesses these lapses can create. Oftentimes, the hacks come from within the organization, not from the outside.
There are a number of tools to help companies with asset management.
IBM’s License Metric Tool, or ILMT, is a free IBM-specific tool under its new Tivoli-based IBM Endpoint Manager. (The prior version of ILMT was server-based.) ILMT acts like a ferret: Install it, let it out of its cage and it will start digging to find every IBM product running on the servers (there is a bit more to the installation than this, but the author hopes you understand the analogy). Analysts can then easily map the findings to understand locations, history, activity and license agreements.
ILMT is free, hence its limitation: It can only detect and report IBM-related ware. A buy-up to the Software Use Analysis (SUA) tool, which also runs under the IBM Endpoint Manager, can detect non-IBM ware. That means you can quickly and easily map Oracle, Microsoft and other commonly licensed software – whether active, inactive or hidden.
A recent Gartner Report evaluated the new IBM Endpoint Manager for ILMT and SUA against competitors, identified it as a “Leader” and noted:
“Endpoint Manager’s primary differentiator is that the tool’s intelligence is on the endpoint, rather than the server. This allows the agent to actively discover a deviation from policy and execute remediation, rather than rely on a predefined schedule of system scans and subsequent server-side reporting. This enables organizations to maintain higher degrees of configuration compliance. The product’s endpoint-oriented control, along with its relay server architecture, results in a relatively small server footprint to support the Endpoint Manager environment, and makes it a good fit for highly distributed environments.”
But the report cautioned: “Uptake of OS deployment remains low. Organizations cite a lack of documentation and known best practices to use this module effectively. Certain patches (e.g., Microsoft nonsecurity) often require manual configuration prior to deployment. IBM’s packaging, bundling options and pricing of its various management functionality are complex and can be challenging for users to understand.”
As an IBM Premier Partner, TxMQ is uniquely qualified to help your business acquire, install, run and act on the results of IBM Endpoint Manager for ILMT and/or SUA.
Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee.