The Importance of Software Discovery

If rights are not restricted, software can be brought into the company by just about anyone. For IT departments, it can be very difficult to see what and when software was added.   If organizations don’t know what software is installed, there’s the possible risk of financial penalties because of a failed audit.

In a recently-published Gartner study, 65 percent of 228 participants who attended Gartner’s 2011 “IT Financial, Procurement and Asset Management Summit” had undergone a license audit in the previous 12 months and many of them had been audited twice.  While this study does not indicate what the actual risk of audit is, the evidence show that there is increased vendor activity in the audit front.  While risk avoidance is important, it is also important to get find proactive way to manage the software costs through software asset management (SAM).

As the risks and rewards are considered, SAM is a practice that most companies should implement. A comprehensive SAM policy can help organizations:

  1. Reduce costs for software license and maintenance fees.
  2. The ability to ensure preparedness for an audit with the goal of improved vendor relations and avoidance of costly fines.
  3. Drives IT to focus on corporate goals of profitability and growth,

In any SAM implementation one of the first and reoccurring tasks is discovery of software assets.  While it seems like software discovery should be a simple task, it isn’t. There are many types of software, software installers, and different ways to register or not register the OS. Even a single product may have different identifiers because of different licensing models, release methods, or other subtle differences.

Discovery of software assets can be accomplished in different ways but methodology comes with challenges such as content based does not account for specialized software. I have seen instances of very unique and specialized software that is only used in a very specific vertical market but this software can be some of the most costly in the enterprise.  File based is subject to the files being changed with patches.

As LANDesk we work on leveraging the best of all methods available to discover all the software assets in your environment including MSI database, shortcuts, exes that have run, and custom rules.  Customer specific custom rules can also be created leveraging any data found in the LANDesk database.  With the hybrid approach to software discovery, current beta testing is showing that we have been able to successfully and accurately discover most software in an enterprise environment without customization.  The dynamic nature of automatically discovered products allows you to always know what is in your environment and help give you peace of mind should an audit arise.