At most of the industry events I attend for Software Asset Management (SAM) Professionals, a common refrain is heard from these busy, and often frustrated, individuals who are tasked with ensuring compliance with software licensing agreements: "We need to know what we need to measure." They also want better software license manageability, as opposed to more audits or proprietary tools.
Asset managers are closer to getting what they are asking for, as progress on the adoption of the set of ISO 19770 standards continues. ISO 19770 is an international set of standards consisting of two parts (19770-1, and -2). The first part of the standard, (19770-1), is directed at enterprises and outlines best practices and processes for effective SAM. ISO 19770-1 uses implementation tiers to make it easier for customers to attain the ISO standard via a phased approach. Microsoft's SAM Optimization model will map to the 19770-1 tiers. The SAM Optimization model will show customers what they have obtained so far and the gaps to achieving more. Microsoft will be launching this as part of the Worldwide Partner Conference this July.
The second part of ISO 19770 describes the way in which software should be electronically tagged so that it’s easier for customers to discover installed software and thus help manage compliance. The standard and its components have been under development for the last several years, and have garnered the early support of companies such as Symantec and CA. In April 2012, Microsoft announced support of -2, helping to move the standards initiative forward.
Microsoft has made a commitment to the -2 tags — and support for the standard is being built into the common set of engineering criteria that helps ensure consistency across the products. The -2 tags are embedded in some products now, and will be incorporated into the planning cycles for future releases of other products. In the coming months, Microsoft is also planning on making some tags available for the install base. For example, there will be a service pack to tag Windows 7. This last part is huge, because SAM professionals are focused today on managing the assets that they already have.
The topic of standards can be pretty dry, and the general lack of media coverage of the ISO 19770 standard exemplifies the lack of industry focus of this topic as compared to headline-grabbers like “cloud.” However, if your job is SAM, these standards are a potential game-changer. I attended a conference for SAM professionals the other week, and the session on ISO 19770 was standing-room-only. The need for software tags is obvious in this community.
Criticism of the ISO 19770 standards initiative mainly centers on the time it takes the international standards committee to develop and release their standards and the limited support thus far from the software community. Microsoft joins Symantec, CA, and Adobe in supporting -2, which is a respectable list of companies, but there needs to be more companies to really gain broader industry attention. Furthermore, while the -2 tags themselves won't simplify licensing, and should not be considered a silver bullet, they represent a material step in the right direction towards easier software discovery, and should help reduce the time customers spend managing their licenses by a significant amount.