As organisations work to complete software licensing checks in advance of the July 31 deadline for Microsoft's Software Assurance scheme, systems integrator Financial Systems says it has shrunk the time needed for the task to just minutes by using a hosted auditing service.
The move to Software Assurance, which gives users the right to upgrade in the future, has prompted a flurry of software inventories by customers as to qualify all licences must be up to date.
Faced with auditing its PCs, FSL turned to Ottawa-based AssetMetrix' eponymous hosted PC inventory service to its clients. Now the systems integrator wants to recommend the service to its clients.
AssetMetrix creates an account which sends a email to the customer's administrator. It can then be distributed via email, being embedded in a script on the corporate network or on diskette for machines that aren't connected.
When the recipients run the attached or embedded message, a 170KB utility is activated. The encrypted results are returned to AssetMetrix in Ottawa, which can then produce 150 different reports including detailed hardware and software breakdowns, total cost of ownership, disposed assets, repair status, user names and asset lease agreements. Data can be sent to the hosting system via the SMTP mail protocol or HTTP.
If a company can't use either of those, it can be saved to a file for upload. Asset-
Metrix claims the audit, which takes three or four seconds on each PC, covers 250 hardware elements and more than 60,000 software applications from 10,000-plus vendors.
Financial Systems general manager Sean Ruane says it took 10 minutes to set up the system. "Over the period of a day as people read their email it would run on their PC.
It gave a complete overview of what PCs we have out there - make and model, what processors, memory, hard drives and software. We have a lot of engineers who swap and change things without telling people."
He estimates that manually putting third-party audit software on each of the company's 35 PCs and getting the amount of information provided by AssetMetrix would've taken two hours per PC.
"The pain of putting in a large client-server system is more than a lot of companies can bite off and chew right now. You can't manage what you can't measure."
AssetMetrix chief Paul Bodnoff says reasons for using the service vary. It can be a hardware migration, a software upgrade or licensing compliance. For example, a company might request a Windows 2000 and Windows XP migration analysis report to help determine the time and costs of migrating all or some of its corporate PCs to either Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP.
The price is based on the length of time of the subscription, ranging from $US3 per machine for a month of access to $US15 per machine for a year.
The company, which started about three years ago, has been offering the service for 17 months.
Privacy of data and security is a common concern for potential customers. Bodnoff says the audit doesn't look for file names or what URLs people go to. The data is held at a large company that hosts for the Canadian federal government and major corporations.
- Until the end of the month, AssetMetrix is offering LicenseTracker, a service to help companies take stock of their Microsoft software in preparation for contract negotiations. The LicenseTracker service costs $US2 per seat until July 31.