Good management of your organization’s software lifecycle has always been important. After all, your software must meet the needs of your enterprise users and function as intended. Once you’ve chosen the right software, keeping up to date with the latest technologies, best practices, features and functionalities can greatly improve efficiency and productivity across your organization.

Managing the software lifecycle can help you mitigate financial and compliance risk and save costs, as you can identify and eliminate unnecessary or underused features or licenses.

You may find you don’t really understand the software licenses you have, that you’ve struck the wrong deal or that you are paying something you don't need. Overspending on software and running into expensive vendor audits are just two of the possible consequences.

Efficient software lifecycle management can be a headache for any organization. Software products lack common standards, and keeping an accurate software inventory can be time-consuming and still not provide the visibility your organization needs to manage licenses or negotiate software contracts. But it’s worth investing in – and here’s why.

6 reasons to pay attention to software lifecycle management

  1. It can reduce complexity

Software licensing is complex, but it’s important to get to grips with it if your organization – like so many others – has a complicated estate.

You may have swathes of licenses expiring in one location, different versions of software used in another location, unused licenses, overuse and many other scenarios. There may be multiple vendors involved, with a range of license types.

What’s more, your software products may be different lifecycles with varying expiry dates. Licenses for your gateway hardware, like switches or routers, might even apply to other hardware too.

A software lifecycle management strategy for both the short and the long term will take all of the above into account. It will help you reduce licensing complexity and increase visibility and control so you can manage your licensing efficiently.

  1. It can protect you against compliance-related risks

Compliance isn’t just about meeting vendor requirements or paying your license renewals on time. This is important, but so is internal compliance.

If you don’t have proper version control or don’t know your expiry dates, you may be relying on software that’s nearing end of life or is no longer supported.

Let’s say you believe all your switches are working on version four, but it turns out some are still on version three. This means the next upgrade might not work properly. This oversight can have serious consequence for the performance of your software – and your organization.

This scenario can leave you exposed to two kinds of risk. The first is operational: when you have something that’s not supported or is end of life, your business continuity could be affected by a lack of network availability, for example. The second risk relates to the potential for security vulnerabilities that could leave your network compromised.

  1. It can also limit your financial risk

Of course, there is the matter of keeping on top of your license fees. You can face large financial penalties if you don't renew in time.

What’s more, if you’ve been using unlicensed software and want to get back on a clean slate with your vendor, they may impose additional penalties before they will let you renew the license.

  1. It gives you room to focus on your business

Trying to keep up with your contracts and their ever-changing statuses can mean a lot of effort expended on negotiations and chasing up items.

You may have a batch of 50 licenses expiring in one part of your organization, then panic because you discover another 250 expiring licenses elsewhere, and no budget to remedy the situation. So, you might confer with the vendor to reach some kind of compromise.

And sure, the negotiations may benefit you, but is sorting out licenses the best way to spend your time?

It’s all too easy to end up almost permanently involved in a never-ending cycle of unproductive license management – and things will inevitably fall through the cracks, leaving you noncompliant. This can be avoided through proper software lifecycle management.

  1. It can help you consolidate licenses

A central part of effective software lifecycle management is the use of licensing agreements and Enterprise Agreements. These consolidate many licenses into one or more contracts. Your organization can then buy a number of licenses in a block, which means all licenses will expire at the same time.

Working in blocks means you don’t have to deal with individual licenses. It leaves you with less to manage. That’s a big benefit for organizations, although a possible challenge is that some of these agreements are easier to scale up than down.

You should also understand vendor usage principles such as Cisco’s True Forward, which is based on volume agreements. The volume contract will change yearly, depending on what you’ve used. You won’t be charged for past use if you go beyond what’s set out in your contract, but you will be billed for that discrepancy in your next contract. So, it’s important to settle on an agreement of the right size for your organization to get a return on investment.

  1. It gives you visibility and control

Within a software-asset-management environment, you can get total visibility and control of all these moving parts, from the number of licenses you have to where they are and when they’ll expire.

These insights and analytics can save you a huge amount of time, help you get license expenses under control once and for all and ensure you’re compliant.

Defining a way forward

We’ve grappled with these same issues in our own organization, and we’re here to save you the headache of finding the solution.

NTT’s Software-defined Lifecycle Services focus on delivering increased efficiency, agility and control – with cost savings, too. We do this by bringing together data and analytics from all your vendors in one place to simplify your operations, and by creating a blueprint for your license strategy, from procurement to ongoing management.

Our Service Portal gives you the visibility we mentioned earlier. Integrated with vendor cloud-management platforms at the application programming interface (API) level, the Service Portal has easy-to-read dashboards and a digital wallet that show how many licenses you have of each type, their location across your organization and their status – for example, whether they are all allocated or when they will expire. You can also see what kind of account they form part of and if they fall under an Enterprise Agreement.

Armed with this wealth of knowledge, it becomes much easier to optimize your usage.

We can typically reduce your infrastructure license spending by an average of 34% with our insights into the management of your subscription-software lifecycle.

What’s more, by using the advanced analytics supported by software-defined technologies, you can improve governance by reconciling licensing assets against hardware inventory, leading to cost and operational efficiencies.

Applying best practices for software asset management across your estate delivers visibility and control, while predictive insights and security notifications help ensure business continuity.