New Novadigm product tracks software usage

Paying for software licenses your company does not use? Novadigm's new Radia Usage Manager may soothe those licensing worries.

Novadigm Inc. this week will release software that seeks to address a crying need for IT managers -- by giving them the ability to monitor software usage on servers, desktops and laptops.

Radia Usage Manager determines what software -- operating systems, applications, patches -- is on what computers and how often that software is launched by users. Usage Manager and other license management software lets system administrators know whether they're paying for too many licenses and how many licenses they should purchase. The Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc. expects IT asset management to be one of the top five priorities for CIOs through 2006.

Admins have many software choices. There are more than 50 vendors that offer some sort of license management software, said David Friedlander, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. ABC Enterprise Systems Ltd., Altiris Inc., Axios Systems Ltd., Centennial Software LLC, Peregrine Systems Inc. and Tally Systems Corp. also offer license management programs.

Even so, Roger Thibodeau, an IT executive at London-based Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Group PLC, could've used help when his CTO ordered him to figure out exactly how many software licenses they needed. Administrators sent e-mails to Royal's 7,000 U.S. Windows XP users asking whether they used any of the 131 applications for which Royal had licenses. If users didn't respond, the administrators manually removed the unlicensed or unused software from their workstations. A laborious task, it took a pair of Thibodeau's administrators two solid months to nail down the numbers. Royal ended up saving $500,000.

"Why have an expensive product like Microsoft Project on the desktop if users haven't used it in six months?" Thibodeau said.

For example, Royal was paying for 2,000 Microsoft Access licenses, at a cost of $161 per copy. Administrators discovered that only 1,000 users worked with the application. The administrators also found that 134 users had loaded Adobe Acrobat Reader, even though Royal was entitled to only 52 copies.

Thibodeau knows the savings didn't have to come so painfully.

A software license management application "would've automatically told us who downloaded software, if they ever executed it and the frequency of use," he said.

In tight economic times, license management software is another tool that lets administrators cut costs. The software can arm system administrators with information to lower maintenance fees, which can add up. Software maintenance fees can reach 20% per license cost per year, Forrester's Friedlander said.

License management software can reduce software costs by 5% during the first year of use and 3% during each of the next two years, according to Gartner. The statistics don't appear overwhelming, but they gain significance when you consider that most organizations shell out 25% of their IT money on software, according to Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group Inc.

License management software also can soften the blow of receiving a software audit letter from vendors such as Microsoft, said George Kellar, Novadigm's vice president of marketing. The Business Software Alliance is known to send letters asking companies whether they pay for number of licenses they use.

Radia Usage Manager began shipping this quarter. It's a standalone product that integrates with Novadigm's Radia Management Suite, policy-based software that inventories assets and assists in application deployment, healing and removal.

The software sits on the client and stores information on the client disk. It then collects and stores the data in a central SQL-compliant database. Radia Usage Manager runs on Windows NT through XP.

Pricing for Radia Usage Manager is based on the number of devices touched and the environment configuration, Kellar said.


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