This one goes out to all the SCCM pros

For the SCCM (or Config Manager) pros out there: you know the drill. A new PC deployment project just has been announced, or perhaps it's software renewal time - so it's all eyes on SCCM for the answers - right? Well not quite.

Having spent a career in, and leading IT Ops, I can tell you that this is only the starting place. The reality is getting data for these kinds of activities takes a lot more than a few SCCM reports - think user surveys, web proxy reports and lots of crunching in Excel. The trouble is that SCCM is a system management tool, so while it has a rich and wonderful set of data - it's all about the systems. When you need detail about user behaviour or software usage it starts to fall short. And for most organisations, a tool like SCCM or one of its competitors is likely all you've got to work with.

What we're really talking about here is Software Metering, and this is where Insightcentr takes over from SCCM. In fact, the limitations in this space is what inspired the creation of Insightcentr - the need to understand who uses what software, in detail. So, as I do in most customer meetings, I thought I'd break down some common scenarios where SCCM data is often called upon, but where Insightcentr can do it so much better:

  1. Annual software renewals. Whether it's time to true-up your Microsoft EA or your Salesforce subscription renewal has just arrived, this is one place where software metering comes in very handy. SCCM can give you an idea of the apps which have been run - provided you have configured specific rules to capture them - but won't give you any detail of cloud subscriptions. Insightcentr gives you every app a user opens regardless of how it's delivered - installed, browser-based, Citrix, etc. - out of the box. Plus it measures continuously over time, so trends and business cycles are captured as well. You'll know exactly how much value your software is generating.
  2. SOE design and application packaging. The goal for any SOE design is to keep the core applications (the ones which everybody uses) at the centre, and then arrange other apps into tiers of business unit requirement, licensing restrictions or expected usage. Again, SCCM will give you a great big list of all the installed software present on your PCs, but Insightcentr can give you a list ordered by time spent, sessions opened or unique user count. Imagine being able to report on the top apps instantly so you can identify core apps and prioritise testing and packaging with ease?
  3. Role-based application groups. This is the holy grail of the SOE - oft desired, but rarely achieved. I'm talking about having 'software' groups set up for business units, locations or roles which are configured with a specific set of applications for that user base. This is where a new starter in Sales, gets all the "sales apps" automatically - without asking for them - one of the greatest challenges in onboarding. This is possible using Insightcentr's integration with Active Directory data. I don't have an answer for the SCCM approach here, but if you deliver apps this way you'd make any new starter's (and their hiring manager's) day.

Now don't get me wrong, Insightcentr doesn't replace SCCM, nor is it intended to compete with it. It's different horses for different courses. When you want to manage systems, go with SCCM. But when you need insights into how people use technology and in particular which software tools are powering your business: it's time to get Insightcentr. The benefits are simple:

  • Save money. Drive down licensing costs - pay for only what you use.
  • Focus IT support effort. Focus support efforts on what's being used rather than what you think is being used. 
  • Save analysis time. Get data to support what you need to package, and what you need to deploy to whom.