Putting the value in value added reseller: Why both manufacturers and customers rely on VARs

Many organizations struggle to keep tabs on their IT assets. The number of products, manufacturers, and licensing agreements is enough to make any person’s head spin. That’s why most companies use some sort of IT asset management (ITAM) to keep track of the various renewal dates and understand what licenses they have on hand. But even then they have little strategic direction for their licensing.

Software manufacturers too have their work cut out for them. They can’t afford to spend the time and money to find every potential customer for their software. In order to earn a reasonable profit on their products, they need a base of customers and a dedicated sales force.

To make the landscape more manageable for both the manufacturers and their ultimate customers, value-added resellers (VARs) serve as a liaison, helping manufacturers get their software in users’ hands while offering customers a range of manufacturer and software options that best fit their business objectives.

It’s too difficult for one customer to attain knowledge about every manufacturer, product, and licensing option on the market, just as it’s nearly impossible for manufacturers to gain clear insight into customer markets and needs. Since both spheres are so vast, VARs meet in the middle to fill the gap.

Value add for customers

No organization looking to license software or hardware has the time or resources to research every potential manufacturer’s products and compare the costs and benefits. VARs, on the other hand, have staffs devoted to staying up to date on the products available, as well as the nuances of every agreement. When customers work with VARs, they receive advice on which manufacturers and products can best support their goals, as well as guidance on manufacturer pricing. Continue Reading…

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Recommended Reading: Cloud services help SHI redefine the buyer-seller dynamic for huge efficiency gains

Earlier this summer at the Ariba Live Conference in Washington, D.C., SHI’s John D’Aquila met with Dana Gardner, analyst at Interarbor Solutions, to talk about how the cloud, BYOD, and other technology trends are changing IT asset management and how SHI is utilizing e-commerce to help customers simplify and streamline the process.

John shared the example of SHI customer AGCO, an American agricultural equipment manufacturer. SHI developed a customized online catalog of the products and solutions that meet AGCO’s IT requirements in order to give end users plenty of approved tech options that they can obtain with a simple click while centralizing procurement and creating a more transparent process for easy reporting and oversight.

Dana’s complete Q&A with John is published on ZDNet in “Cloud services help SHI redefine the buyer-seller dynamic for huge efficiency gains.” I encourage you to read through it to learn more about how SHI’s e-commerce offering can streamline your IT product discovery and purchasing processes.

ZDNet Cloud Services SHI

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Overspending on software? The real costs and options

We recently calculated the costs and compliance risks of under-licensing software. But using more licenses than you’re paying for shouldn’t be your organization’s only concern. Almost every customer we come across is also over-licensing products in some situations. That is, they have purchased more licenses than they actually need.

How does this happen? Let’s say one of your employees retires or moves to a different company. She returns her computer (and the software licensed to it) to her IT department, which shelves the assets for future use. The next week, your company hires someone to fill the role. But, when that person is ready to set up her work station, she doesn’t go to the IT department. She goes to the procurement department, which purchases new licenses for her to use. Or, in another common scenario, the organization downsizes and the software gets “lost” in the confusion of the moment. The result is unnecessary outflow of cash and an unused stock-pile of licenses.

While this might not seem like a big deal at first glance, the costs of licensing over-compliance can negatively impact budgets, projects, reputations, and careers. Over-licensing software doesn’t have the same immediate, negative impact of under-licensing or an audit, but it can slowly drain resources from more productive uses. And the problem tends to self-perpetuate: Buying too many licenses in the first place very often results in buying too much maintenance year after year.

When idle licenses are uncovered, certain questions invariably arise: How much did the unused licenses cost, and what other projects were cut or had their budgets slashed in order to cover the expense? Who sanctioned this purchase? Why don’t we have better records on what we own and what we are using? And lastly, now that we have identified all these unused licenses, what do we do with them?

Organizations that have a surplus of unused software licenses have four options: Continue Reading…

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Keep IT involved in cloud purchasing decisions

The cloud’s accessibility makes it irresistible to end users working under tight deadlines (which, let’s face it, is virtually everyone). Order a virtual machine (VM) this morning and you can deploy that VM, well, this morning. But who ensures that this new infrastructure purchase is secure, meets an organization’s established technical standards, and is compliant from a volume licensing perspective?

Even well-intentioned employees will bypass IT when pursuing a cloud initiative, often telling their IT guys, “We didn’t want to bother you.” Until there’s a problem, of course.

SHI helps IT stay involved with cloud migrations

Last week I introduced ZDNet reporter Heather Clancy to SHI and talked to her about SHI’s participation in the channel and our work in the cloud. One of the main points I tried to convey was the importance of keeping IT involved in all of an organization’s technology purchasing and procurement decisions, cloud included. It was a theme that Heather picked up on and featured in her article, “SHI’s cloud mantra: Keep IT involved.”

Since Heather’s article went live, our sales teams have heard from numerous CIOs who were interested in learning more how SHI can keep IT more involved in what technologies their end users are bringing into their environment. Specifically, they asked how we can help them identify which consumer-based products are lurking in their environments so they can stop and replace them with a secure, enterprise-class solution.

Full disclosure: SHI only has visibility into the product lines our customers authorize us to manage. Most of our largest, longtime customers have found that the easiest way to manage a product line is to have as many IT purchases go through SHI as possible. It’s far easier for an IT manager to tell end users to “Call SHI” than to evaluate, source, procure, and deploy every new request they get.

So how do we do it? SHI helps organizations manage their IT environments in several ways: Continue Reading…

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SHI simplifies Microsoft True-up for Mid America Computer Corporation

Properly licensing software in a virtual environment can be a challenge for many organizations, and I’ve heard the process described as everything from a “minefield” to “a ticking time bomb.”

However, an experienced IT Asset Management (ITAM) partner can help you navigate the virtual terrain. Take this customer case study, for example.

THE PROBLEM

Billing and software solutions provider Mid America Computer Corporation (MACC) was approaching its annual True-up reconciliation for its Microsoft software. To make sure the company’s license inventory was in compliance with its contract prior to renewal, MACC needed an accurate, comprehensive look at exactly what software was being used on what devices.

Kourt Jensen, Network Supervisor at MACC, faced three challenges:

  1. He didn’t have the time to collect a complete inventory himself.
  2. He lacked the confidence in the software inventory tools MACC had in place to provide up-to-date licensing information necessary for an accurate True-up.
  3. And he needed help understanding the licensing requirements for a virtual server environment. Continue Reading…
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The impact of sequestration on IT

I chose not to blog about sequestration until now because, like most people, I never really thought it was going to happen. Much like January’s fiscal cliff, the prevailing sentiment was that the “D.C.” in Washington would stand for “Don’t Cut” and that an 11th hour deal would be made.

But now that the deadline has passed and the only thing delaying the start of sequestration is a presidential signature, we must all seriously begin to consider what will happen to those affected by the automatic spending cuts.

As reported by Computerworld this morning, the potential budget cuts are already causing uncertainty within a sector that relies on secure funding to foster growth and innovation: IT. Even though the official OMB report from the White House says that “no amount of planning can mitigate the effects of these cuts,” IT organizations should still start anticipating what those effects will be in order to properly manage them.

If cuts are indeed made, here are some questions IT managers will need to consider. Continue Reading…

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6 reasons why SHI should be your ITAM partner

Although IT asset management (ITAM) gets VERY complicated VERY quickly, the key to selecting a partner can be boiled down to two simple questions: Who do you trust? Why do you trust them?

In a recent article, Paul Sheehan argues that companies that sell software licenses cannot function as independent and objective third-parties when it comes to helping clients manage those assets. The argument has merit. But, the author also clearly states that he works for a company that does not sell licenses, but does provide ITAM services.

I work for a company that does both, so it’s not surprising that I have a differing opinion. I believe that a world-class VAR with a world-class Software Asset Management (SAM) process is the best SAM partner a customer can have.

Here are the top six reasons why it’s not only possible – but likely – that the IT asset management solutions offered by a company like SHI are second-to-none.

  1. SHI is not your average VAR. Under the same private ownership since 1989, SHI has the advantage of answering to only one group of key stakeholders: our customers. With a 99 percent annual customer retention rate and clients who have been with us for 10, 15, and 20 years, SHI’s account teams are never put in a position to make decisions based on meeting quarterly Wall Street expectations. Our only interest is in the health of the long-term relationship we have with our clients. Continue Reading…
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