In a perfect world, software license reconciliation is simple – count the installs for software titles from all the machines and match them to the licenses purchased for these titles. But anybody who has attem

pted this for packaged software knows the difficulties involved.  There are multiple steps involved in License Reconciliation of your software assets. Let’s consider desktop software and keep aside the extra complexity of CALs (Client Access Licenses). 

These are typically the steps you need to follow to effectively reconcile your licensing:

1. Collect the software inventory

Raw software inventory has lot of variations in software signatures of any application (e.g. different versions, languages, titles, publishers for the same product).

This raw inventory needs to be normalized to aggregate the install counts for the purchased software. You can spend countless hours trying to do this.

2. License entitlements

You need to collect license entitlement information for various sources as you may have purchased the software from different channels (e.g. Volume License, OEM, Retail etc.)

3. Match inventory to entitlements

In most cases, inventoried application signature does not match the license identity provided in the purchase reports making it difficult to automate this matching (e.g. Application title that gets inventoried is “Microsoft Office 2007 Professional Edition” and license identity referred in the purchase report is “Office professional 2007”). So you start with Excel and manually try to tally this information together.

4. Interpreting compliance

There are lots of other factors at play when you consider “Product Usage Rights” for license compliance. (E.g. Downgrade rights apply differently to different channels or software assurance benefits.

In the end you need help of an experience SAM to figure out whether you are really compliant.

This is just a simplistic view of this space. When we started out with the License Management feature in Windows Intune, we aimed at making Microsoft Volume License Reconciliation process easier by solving some of the problems mentioned above. We leverage our software catalog to make inventory aggregation and license identity mapping easy. We also help in retrieving Microsoft volume license entitlement information and storing it with the inventory.

In next part on this topic, I’ll describe the role of our software catalog in this process.

Written by Nilesh Bhide, Senior Program Manager with the Windows Intune Team