I recently corresponded with Kris regarding this new venture and a preview of his upcoming session at the conference.
Apptria’s target customer, value proposition and offering are notably different from Express Metrix’s, and we felt that establishing a new business division that’s exclusively focused on the needs of ISVs will enable us to:
It’s also important to point out that we have structured ourselves internally to support this new focus. Whereas previously, enhancements to the catalog were driven primarily by Express Software Manager’s requirements, there’s a more distinct line between these two areas of business that promotes independence of product direction and overall business strategy, as well as ensure the goals and needs of our respective customers bases are being met.
All that said, we believe very strongly that Express Metrix’ long history of developing the software catalog and associated domain expertise is key to Apptria’s story and its ability to deliver not only strong technology, but also ensure our partners’ success with their implementations.
I’m happy to say that the response has far exceeded our expectations. It’s testimony to the pain and frustration ISVs are experiencing with the process of software recognition, and its negative impacts upon their end user customers. The bottom line is that if your customers can’t trust the software data that serves as a foundation for critical IT processes, they won’t be successful with your product. And this costs you money as a solution provider in terms of lost business, increased support costs, and distraction from your core competencies and strategic priorities.
One thing that’s surprised us is the interest coming from ISVs outside the ITAM field. For example, we’re talking with a security solution provider with a wide range of related products that plans to use the catalog to evaluate what’s installed on their customers’ machines so they can recommend additional or alternative software that’s relevant to their situations.
There are a number of areas I’d recommend organizations consider during an evaluation process:
a) Is the software recognition “license-centric”?
If management of software licenses is a key goal, it is critical to explore not just what a SAM product recognizes, but also how the tool recognizes, interprets, and classifies the information it “discovers”. Specifically, a SAM tool needs to discover all installed applications and identify them in such a way that lists of recognized applications can be easily aligned with entitlement requirements. This is easier said than done!
Here are some things to be particularly cautious about:
b) Can it accurately identify “complex” applications such as editions and suites?
Proper identification often requires more than simply knowing what the presence of a particular executable or registry entry means. Without additional information, it’s not possible to determine which edition of an application or suite is installed, a key aspect for understanding licensing. Here are some specific areas to explore:
d) How broad is the application coverage, and does it cover titles relevant to your organization?
Many SAM solutions today base their recognition, at least in part, upon a signature catalog of some sort. For this reason, it’s important to find out how frequently the catalog and/or its recognition capabilities are updated. Additionally, given the variety of software upgrade policies used across companies, it’s important to evaluate recognition coverage from an historical standpoint. Actively maintaining a large software catalog is a specialized area that requires a great deal of commitment and expertise, and it’s an area SAM providers often sacrifice in favor of other features that may look great on a spec sheet but a lesser impact in terms of SAM effectiveness.
e) What is the process for handling unrecognized applications?
It’s important to realize that no SAM tool can be 100% complete. This means that at least some applications (home-grown as well as commercial) will not be automatically recognized. Any SAM tool should provide a way to account for custom and/or unrecognized applications so they can be managed along with recognized apps in a unified manner.
We do indeed have plans for incorporating tagging into our solutions, but we’re not ready to share the specifics at this time. We’ll keep you posted!
Kris Barker’s session “The Software Identification Challenge” is on the Friday 14th October during the IAITAM Conference and Exhibition.