University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has bought 8,000 FrontRange SAM Suite licences to improve control of its IT inventory.

Technical security specialist David Rose it became interested in software asset management after it learned about NHS Connecting for Health’s National Infrastructure Maturity Model (NIMM) and how it affected access to licences in Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement with the health service.

“I went to a couple of roadshows that CfH and Microsoft were doing and realised that if we did not go through NIMM we would be delayed on some projects,” he told E-Health Insider.

“We want an Exchange upgrade and Unified Communications, and the client access licenses for those are only available if you go through a NIMM barrier.”

The trust already used Systems Management Server 2003. It also did some work inventory work with Microsoft, using its Software Inventory Analyzer. However, it realised it needed a more robust solution.

“SMS 2003 is good at hardware but not software,” Rose said. “Software Analyzer is designed for businesses with around 5,000 users – which meant we had to do it in chunks. So we started looking around to see what else was available.”

The trust worked with SAMpartners to deploy the Centennial discovery tool on a 30 day trial. It was so impressed with the results that it decided to buy 8,000 licences for what had become FrontRange’s SAM Suite (FrontRange acquired Centennial Software earlier this year).

“SAM Suite really opened our eyes to how little we knew about our IT assets,” Rose said. “Initially, this was about software compliance; the first purpose of this software is to link licences to hardware and keep them up to date.

“Another thing has been hardware. Although SMS 2003 does hardware, we have found lots of PDAs and phones attached to PCs that it cannot pick up.

"At the moment, we are trying to encrypt all our laptops. We know there are 800 out there, but we’ve yet to find all of them. As they are plugged in to the network, we can spot them and go out and get them.”

Information from the hardware and software inventory that SAM Suite provides will also supply information to the trust’s IT helpdesk, making it easier to handle user queries. And the trust has been able to save some money by finding licenses that are not being used and re-assigning them.

The Informatics Planning guidance that was issued recently to support the Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2009-10 puts a big emphasis on improving infrastructure, saying trusts should aim to achieve level 3 and preferably level 4 of the NIMM.

Rose says he believes NIMM is “very worthwhile and a good framework to work with.” But he says trusts need to start by finding out what assets they have. “SAM has instilled a sense of discipline,” he said.

“People have to look at what they have got and realise that they should be managing it. The encryption requirement means we need a higher level of information than we have had before.

“At this trust, we are installing VoIP as well. When it’s in, we’ll have 10,000 IP phones to manage. We couldn’t do it without this kind of system in place.”

Link: FrontRange Solutions