CRM and IT governance vendor FrontRange Solutions has launched a new version of its License Manager product, to make it easier for organisations to track and manage their software assets.

"Software licensing has always been an issue," said Matt Fisher, director of marketing at FrontRange. "Figures from Gartner showed that last year that the likelihood of an organisation being audited by one software vendor was 35 percent. This year, the likelihood of being audited has risen to 54 percent, although the increase in audits is mostly to do with new vendors introducing audit schemes, rather than existing players doing more audits."

Fisher explained that FrontRange License Manager 3.1 (inherited from the Centennial acquisition last year) now features support for Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, as according to Fisher, a lot of people use SMS to do their audits. This support for SMS now allows customers to take a direct feed from SMS to aid in the collection and discovery of software data being used within a organisation.

"We are reacting to our customer needs, as all the new features in 3.1 are as a result of live experience and direct feedback from our customers," said Fisher. "With our auditing software (Centennial Discovery), customers already have the ability to find all the IT assets on network, where it is a PC or workstation, or a server. Discovery does a full inventory, and many people had used Discovery as part of their compliance and discovery assets, and then do a manual process to check the results, which is laborious and expensive."

"From 2006, with License Manager we automated the recording of licence entitlement from the network, but this is not fully automated process because there is so many different licensing terms and conditions," he said. "With 3.1 however, we can dramatically reduce the man hours that goes into this process, with our web based product."

Also with version 3.1, FrontRange has created a bulk data upload tool as a way of allowing end users to populate a spreadsheet with all the licence agreements an organisation may have, and this is then pulled into the License Manager.

"The end user can create as many licensing templates as they want," said Fisher. He also went onto explain that the firm has dramtically overhauled its Nexus online database, which has a million 'skews' (i.e. vendor specific ways of buying software). "Nexus brings licence intelligence into the product," he said, adding that it has been expanded beyond its traditional focus on Microsoft products to include other vendors licensing terms and conditions, from the likes of Borland, CA, and Trend Micro.

For a typical 500 seat network, the SAM suite costs just under £19,000 ($31,470) or £38 per seat. But if a customer is just acquiring License Manager, the individual unit price would be £19 per seat, or just under £10,000 or 500 seats.

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