In this episode of Unstoppable Talk, I interviewed Jeremy Boerger from Boerger Consulting. We discussed how large companies can save big on licensing costs through by taking software asset management seriously, and how technologies such as blockchain are enabling more transparency with more privacy for customers.
Sam Schutte: In today’s show, we have Jeremy Boerger from Boerger Consulting. I met Jeremy when we both worked at a local hospital system in Cincinnati and today we’re going to talk about innovation in hardware and software asset management. Okay Jeremy, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.
Jeremy Boerger: Thanks for being here.
Sam Schutte: Maybe a good place to start out is to talk about how you got started and how you got into this field.
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah, so funny story. Actually started off as a service technician for… Back in 2001 when everyone was worried about the Y2K bug. And basically if you could fog a mirror, you were thrown into the IT department to try and resolve this thing. You laugh but you know what I mean. But come to find out, I’m really good at reading a contract and figuring things out so that I was presented with an opportunity by a former boss when I worked at one of the local healthcare conglomerates, the same one that you and I met at. And I was nearing the end of my contract. The work amount had kind of gone down as these things cycle and we were waiting for the next project to show up.
Jeremy Boerger: And so boss’s name was Steve and Steve says, “We need to figure this asset management thing out.” And it was a old copy of computer associates Yunus Center. Which has it’s own reputation in the asset management industry and not a good one. And so I did a little bit of research, and it’s like, yeah, I can get this to work. And it’s like, “Okay, well here’s some used equipment for another project that we didn’t use.” And there’s a closet that used to hold all the equipment for the proton gun in the radiology lab. So have at it, six weeks, show me what you got and rebuilt the system so that it would, the initial purpose was to standardize the images that would lay down on the desktops and laptops that were going out to the different hospital locations at the time.
Jeremy Boerger: It was all mismatched and whatever the local technician remembered to put into when you had trouble with version control and the like, well now you had a central repository for those images and sped up the process dynamically. Just incredible, well in order to do that, you had to collect data on what kind of hardware you were purchasing, what were you plugging into the system. And as the research went on I learned more about the asset life cycle and how you build these systems.
Jeremy Boerger: And then I realized that not many people actually put a lot of effort and study into how these systems go. I believe there was a study by LinkedIn that says that currently, 2018, there are fewer than 25000 people in the world that are actually qualified to do hardware and software asset management for organizations. So, that was one of the things that finally propelled me into start my own company is that, to be a full time employee for just one company, you’d solve the issues, would get the system running and winded up, and the pieces are going fine. I wanted the next challenge. So once you get things to a steady state, there is no real sense to pay Jeremy the big box to just sit there and wait for the light to go red. Let him go off and do something else that’s interesting.
Sam Schutte: Setting up new things is always more fun.
Jeremy Boerger: Right. And yeah, so there’s so much more work to be had and so few people that can do it. That’s where I got the inspiration to strike out on my own.
Sam Schutte: So, maybe a good place, a good question to start with too is, what is asset management, hardware, software, asset manager, and more importantly, why do companies care about it?
Jeremy Boerger: Right? So, the first part. The cheeky answer is it is a little known process inside the ITIL framework that is supposed to ensure that organizations get the highest return on investment in their hardware and software spend. The trouble is that ITIL buries that process inside their release control and validation spot if they mention it at all, and they do the same thing to IT security. So nobody’s really surprised. Now version four that just was released here at the beginning of 2019. There’s supposed to be a little more meat around the idea of what asset management is and how you measure it and how you design, implement and take it forward. I’m not seeing a lot, not for the people I’ve talked about it and not from the people that are starting to come back from the foundation tests.
Jeremy Boerger: You’re not seeing a lot of it. So again, forgotten. Now why should we care? Because it gets right down to the heart of the matter. And organizations are here to make money. They turn raw material and raw knowledge into a product to be consumed in one form over another. And those that do it better, faster, cheaper are going to survive and thrive. There is a Gartner article from 2016, and we’re going to share the article number.
Sam Schutte: It’s so nice.
Jeremy Boerger: Suggests 30% of a organization software budget can be eliminated by implementing a proper software asset management system.
Sam Schutte: Okay. How is that so?
Jeremy Boerger: So, it comes from three different areas. The first is by organizing how you’re consuming your licenses. And what I mean by that is a feature set alignment, right? And we’ve seen this scenario. Adobe Acrobat is probably the best one. How many times does an organization pass around Adobe Acrobat professional to everybody? And if you ask a random person, what do you do with it? I look at PDFs.
Sam Schutte: I make PDFs.
Jeremy Boerger: Great. Do you print them? Well, no. Do you create them? Well, no. Do you take pages out and put them in? Do you add a electronic signature? Do you have version control? Do you have this and that and all the other? No. Well then why do you spend all this money on Acrobat Professional? Well, that’s what I was told I need to buy. Or that’s what I used in my old job. Or this came along with the laptop. So they deal.
Sam Schutte: I just kept upgrading it.
Jeremy Boerger: Exactly. So there’s an opportunity, this person is obviously not using that software to the fullest potential. Plus there’s a lesser version, maybe even the free version that they could use, not have any loss of productivity or impact to their business as usual activities. And the company gets that software license to put it to somebody that will put a good use. And the same thing on the hardware. It’s nice to have that nice shiny, mackintosh, sexy logo sitting on your desk and setting up and typing on it. Things got six cores and… I don’t even remember what the implications are on the hardware. You could have this great big honking machine and what do you end up doing on it? You’d type out emails all day, you fill out project reports and TPS reports and oh yeah, that’s great, but you’re not utilizing that thing.
Jeremy Boerger: It’s not like you’re folding proteins building up the next computer animation model, adjust that, find out what you’re really using it for or recover something that you thought was being used but isn’t being used and then put it to a different use. And that’s the second part where you can see a lot of expense reduction and budget recovery is being able to properly identify when an opportunity presents itself to take something offline and then repurpose it for a different use. So that computer that is designing… Folding proteins or doing all of the creative control for, I don’t know, it’s landing airplanes.
Jeremy Boerger: Well after it gets to the end of its useful life, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t another life that can be used. So you can start to methodically plan out the obsolescence piece and you might not need all of them, you could have a team of 12 of those things. But if you can recover two of them, then that means two more that you can like send to the secretary pool or do we have secretary pools? I mentioned secretary, well here’s a side comment. I mentioned secretary pools because my mom was part of a secretary pool back in the day. And she was notorious for being able to outpace the keyboard buffer.
Jeremy Boerger: Because she could move at almost 120, 160, and on those old IBM keyboards, it sounded like a machine gun going off. She’s going… And then she’d be holding your conversation with somebody next her, “Oh yeah hey, how you doing?” It’s like… Anyway. Again, if you’re typing documentation, that is a completely different purpose from doing something big and nasty and heavy computing power. But that machine that was top of the line able to do those a high level calculations will be just fine later in life. Sitting there, typing up emails, filling out TPS reports and maybe the occasional spreadsheet.
Sam Schutte: Well, I think it’s probably important to note too that if you think of a small company, 10, 20 employees like this problem exists and okay, yes you can save one license of Acrobat or something. But when you’re talking about 100000 person companies and global banks and stuff, this is a seven and eight figure problem.
Jeremy Boerger: And that’s where the third opportunity to recover that budget spent, comes into place, is putting in a proper software asset management system, something that looks at the quirks and legal ease inside your volume license agreements that can in real time shuffle licensing back and forth and detect when installations happen in one place that might either move your license count up or down and how quickly you can detect that and then jump on it, take advantage of it, for example, one of the weird little quirks that you find and everybody loves to pick on this oracle, the database. What is it, DB1, the database edition.
Jeremy Boerger: And it costs you a license per core. Per processor, per core. You think that’s a pretty straight line. The trouble is, is that that’s only for Intel processors. If you use an AMD processor, it’s three quarters.
Sam Schutte: [inaudible 00:13:16].
Jeremy Boerger: Exactly. So if you have need of a massive oracle data farm. You want to run power PC or AMD because it’s actually cheaper than what the Intel does. So it’s those kind of observations that a Sam program can come in and say, “Hey, here’s what your need is. Here’s your opportunity costs. Which one makes the most sense for us?”
Sam Schutte: So it actually analyze that, capture what you’re using and stuff, index it basically.
Jeremy Boerger: So again, when you are a 10 or 12 person shop, one person can do this calculation in their head. It’s pretty easy. But when you start scaling up to 500, 5000, 500000 people, the math gets complicated in a hurry.
Sam Schutte: It’s interesting how many problems become so much bigger at scale. Like one of our customers does data migrations for virtual servers.
Jeremy Boerger: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sam Schutte: And you think okay, migrate a couple of servers, no big deal. Well, I mean he’s working with customers that do 10000 servers a year, every year. And they always have… And they’ll continue to. The logistics around that become problematic.
Jeremy Boerger: And can you expect any one person to know everything about all of the impacts.
Sam Schutte: Yeah, exactly.
Jeremy Boerger: And once you have a team, then how do you keep that team informed? Well, that’s where these tools come into play.
Sam Schutte: Well, and you mentioned the licenses and all that sort of stuff. And I imagine it would also relate to some of your legal liability when you’re talking about user licensing and such, and what you’re allowed to get away with just because we do have these enforcement bodies out there it’s the BSA, is that what it’s called?
Jeremy Boerger: It’s the Business Software Alliance. The BSA.
Sam Schutte: and they’re the ones that’ll… I worked at a company long, long time ago that… I think it was years before I got there, had gotten a rather large six-figure fine from them because they found out they were not paying for all the MSDN licenses from Microsoft they were supposed to for instance.
Jeremy Boerger: Wow. The BSA caught you before Microsoft clued into us.
Sam Schutte: I guess so.
Jeremy Boerger: I’m impressed.
Sam Schutte: It was like three years before I started working there, maybe. I don’t know that I’ve already realized this that there’s this watchdog out there.
Jeremy Boerger: They’ll advertise on NPR.
Sam Schutte: Yeah.
Jeremy Boerger: It’s a very real threat. And another thing to be cognizant of then, so again, and scale. When you’re a 12, 13 person shop, you don’t qualify for… A lot of times you don’t qualify for the cost reduction or off sticker price rate reductions. But when you start buying in bulk and in large numbers, well you can start to leverage a 10, 15, sometimes 40% discount, well that comes at a cost and that cost is that you have to set a particular level agreement on how many items you will buy year over year, how many you are going to keep up to date. And by the way, tell us, publishing company, tell the publishing company once a year how many exactly you’re using. And then every three years we’re going to take a look at what you said and then do an audit and what you’re actually using. And if that’s wrong, we’re going to punish you. And those fees can get mighty hefty.
Jeremy Boerger: You’re used to paying. And this is a conversation I get into a lot when they start measuring what the impact of the Sam program is. If you’re used to paying 40% off a sticker price for a license, you get it in your head that that’s what it really costs. But in the contractual agreement, the penalties for being out of compliance are usually 125% of the list price. So not only are you paying at this 40% reduction rate, you lose that. Plus an extra 25 because we don’t like you.
Sam Schutte: I’ve got to sign up for it. On the other hand though, I imagine what I have seen with customers is that… Especially the really big ones, it’s the left hand right hand thing where California talks to New York and they’re like you’re using that software too? How many licenses you’re using, oh we’re using 500 licenses in California and maybe there’s 200 in New York.” And we’re like, “Well doesn’t that put us over the volume discount that we could have?” And they have no idea that for years they’ve been paying 20%, 30% more than they had to because they never even knew they were using it.
Jeremy Boerger: Exactly. And I’ve seen where the reverse is true as well, that you have geolocation pinned licenses. You are only allowed to use a license in this group or this department, but this other department wants to use it as well. Oh well we’re being friendly here, here just borrow some of ours. We’re not using these. Are you still in licensed compliance by count, yes. But not by the agreement. And they will most certainly take that extra money.
Sam Schutte: Interesting. So in this space, what was really your first big break for your business, for our customer and what was the first big project you did that you kind of got into this on your own?
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah. So the… What really convinced me to get out on my own as I was working for another hospital conglomerate here in Cincinnati. Not to give away. I want to not say names to protect the innocent. And I was hired to be their asset manager. And they had never had an asset management program before, but they felt like after this last audit from Microsoft, they were over the barrel. They had a… And it was really on their office licensing, which is notorious for being abused because it is so necessary in today’s world. And it’s very easy to move around. You get a volume license key, you plug it in, you put it in your image, hey, you’re off to the races. Unless of course that computer isn’t supposed to be running it then you have to pay.
Jeremy Boerger: And so it was a pretty hefty fine. And part of the punishment, if you will, for lack of a better word was to bring the organization into the Office 365. So part of the agreement was they set up too classifications. They had their knowledge-base users, which everybody knows and loves, right. The folks like you or me where you’re assigned a laptop and you get a copy of office and you’re expected to use it as part of your business as usual.
Jeremy Boerger: They had a second group, and this was kind of interesting because it’s a hospital, the assumption was most of the people would not have their own computer, but they would be sharing computers that would be peppered around all over the hospital, either on carts or medical distribution and or stationed at the nurses station to be available as nurses go on and off shift and sometimes near bedsides or for some of the critical patients and the like, well, because those are going to be shared machines the reasoning was, those will use a device CAL, client access license to talk to the rest of the network. So, one of the rules about Microsoft is you have to have-
Sam Schutte: Instead of a user license.
Jeremy Boerger: Instead of a user license. Exactly. So just to explain to the listeners, and the folks back home, you get a computer, and you get an operating system, you don’t have to pay for that operating system, but the manufacturer usually picks that up for you. But if you’re going to take that computer and get it to talk to somebody else’s corporate network and any of the other Microsoft products that are on that network, like servers and email and all the rest of that, you have to have a connection license, access license, and they come in two flavors. Either it’s by device, which kind of makes sense to most people, that computer’s plugged into the network socket, that’s got to have a license.
Jeremy Boerger: The other way to do it is by user so that you as a person that types in your login credentials. That is you activating your access license. Okay. Now with Office 365, Microsoft has sweetened the deal because they recognize how popular iPads and iPhones and Androids and mobile devices are moving back and forth with information and coming in and out, disconnected… They give you five connection licenses for lack of a better word for mobile devices and then five connections for computers. In case you’re curious, how do they define a computer versus a mobile device? Any guests on how they picked on how to decide?
Sam Schutte: Your operating system maybe, that’s right.
Jeremy Boerger: No. Screen size. If your screen is over, I believe it is 10 and a half inches might be 11 inches. It’s considered a computer. That iPad kind of depends.
Sam Schutte: [crosstalk 00:23:35].
Jeremy Boerger: Is it the small one? Is it the big one?
Sam Schutte: And I’ll the biggest one is.
Jeremy Boerger: I hear 12 inches. So pretty beefy thing. So, here’s the situation that this hospital ran into. All these computers are spread out through their hospitals. They’re all licensed. They’re talking to the network. And really they’ve got a specific purpose, their to get information into the electronic medical record database, the MDR, not MDR.
Sam Schutte: EMR.
Jeremy Boerger: EMR. Thank you. MDR’s something different. And we’ll talk about that later. Into the EMR, but we were not getting the same count of users as we were computers with the knowledge based licensing that by user account and nobody could figure out why until we actually, I sat down and locked myself in a room with a great big whiteboard and just started scribbling out all kinds of scenarios.
Jeremy Boerger: The clue was the email addresses and part of office 365 was to have a mobile-ish, email account that you could jump onto a computer, log into a office online or the WEP or whatever URL that the organization’s set up so that you could on any computer at any given moment, check your email, update your schedule. And the thought was doctors don’t need to be waiting around to get back to their home office in order to send emails or warn patients or the like. The number of emails was not matching up with the number of logged in computers. So the computers that were being turned on had the login typed in manually and then would shut off at the end of the day. That kind of computers was not matching up with our user accounts and the numbers kept coming off when we would do our yearly normalization, our yearly updates. The true ups with Microsoft.
Jeremy Boerger: So something was wrong. We couldn’t figure out why this differentiation until it kind of hit us. The computers that were on all the time because they were on for every shift and had to take care of patients. They were just left on, they were always logged in. But the nurses and doctors that were not getting assigned to computer because they were too busy running around taking care of patients and it was assumed that, well, you could just use any computer you want. They were still getting that client license and the computers that they were using were these terminals that were spread out all over the hospital. We couldn’t have direct evidence that the this mismatch was happening, but we were able to infer it by using the outlook or the outlook email logins and the email usage, compare that to who was logging into which kind of computer through our active directory in the Azure. They used to call it the federated service, the ADFS server.
Jeremy Boerger: And come to find out it started to match the users that were using Office 365 were not logging into a computer that was assigned to him, but it was happening during shift hours. And you would see them log in and then log out. No more activity when they were not in the hospital. So aha. Why is this important? Why did I just spend 10 minutes of a podcast setting all of this up? Why is this so exciting? The users that have emails have user-based client access licenses. They should be able to have up to five corporate computers at their disposal at any given moment. And everything should be fine.
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah but they’re using computers that have their own CALs, double licensed. And when you got down to the numbers and you started applying dollar amounts, it was a million and a half dollars over the course of a three-year $15 million ESA.
Sam Schutte: To 500 grand a year in licenses that they didn’t need at all.
Jeremy Boerger: Didn’t need it all.
Sam Schutte: Of course Microsoft’s not going to tell you that.
Jeremy Boerger: Of course not. So we show this to the COO and he’s like, “This can’t be right.” It’s like, okay, so we run through the scenario again. He’s like, it still can’t be right. We run it through it again. We bring in Microsoft, we set them down, we talked to our vendor, we set them down, win Microsoft… we finally brought them in and I remember this very clearly. He sat at the end of the table and you know they had the big long. And of course where does he sit, he sits at the very head on the very far end from where I had all of my stuff set up and this can’t be right. This EA is correct. We hammered through it. I was there in the room when everybody agreed to it. 30 minutes later as we go through our scenario and tell this story, he just looked at me and said, “Yeah, you got us.” So the end of the story-
Sam Schutte: Can I get a refund?
Jeremy Boerger: No, no, they would not refund us. Not for the money that was already spent. But the answer was to break up and add a third group. What do they call them, they called them… Actually it was doctors and nurse managers. Specifically Office 365 users that would not have an assigned computer. And they were counted separately from the rest of the population. So you had your knowledge managers who are your accountants, your HR people, your payroll folks, the folks that had a computer that they would log in doing mostly back office activity. But then you had your doctors and nurse managers who were using all the other computers that were in and around. And the real key to getting Microsoft to agree to this was we had to bake into the true up numbers what the definition was between each three of those groups.
Jeremy Boerger: So that it was clearly defined that when we’re talking computers, they look like this in the ADSF. They have automated logins, those logins match the computer name and they stay on almost perpetually. You never see them go off for eight hours a day while they get thrown in the trunk of the car and the doctor drives home over the evening. So that I was really proud of because-
Sam Schutte: [crosstalk 00:31:00] your existence for sure.
Jeremy Boerger: Well not only that, but the margins, the thin margins that hospitals work in, in healthcare in general, a million and a half dollars is a godsend. Even spread out over three years. It allowed… Microsoft also through in the first of their white glove initiatives. They got a new, at the time it was the new ATP, email advanced threat protection, And then the email scanning and all of these other tricks. Not only did we get the price reduced, but Microsoft started throwing all of this extra stuff in here. I don’t want to say it was too by silence, but it was nice that the IT security guys really enjoyed those extra tools.
Sam Schutte: [inaudible 00:31:54] make some amends for sure. Interesting. I know quite a couple… Quite a few firms who are doing big conversions to Office 365 and I know consulting companies that help them do that and all this. And I would imagine because it can be very complicated to figure those licenses out. There’s probably a lot of folks out there overpaying or underpaying, but probably overpaying Microsoft.
Jeremy Boerger: Well, and that’s one of the shifts that we’re seeing inside the asset management sector. It used to be the threat of audit. You were going to lose a whole bunch of money because you were using too much of the product and you haven’t paid for it yet, because you didn’t realize it, reasons. Now with the move to cloud and subscription based licensing, you’re seeing a real threat of overspend. Things like improperly baselined server demand or inability to properly recover and quickly reassign subscription licenses and those sorts of things that end up driving up the overall cost of operation and chew into your bottom line, that magic 30% that Gartner talks about.
Sam Schutte: Definitely. And I guess we had talked a little bit before about… Talking about other changes in the industry. Folks are also looking to blockchain technologies to help support some of the asset control and such. So maybe you can talk a little bit about that.
Jeremy Boerger: Sure. So, blockchain… Back in, what is today? So 2016, I was in a compliance managers summit in San Francisco and was brought up as part of the future foresight discussion group and there was a lot of concern about internet of things and the volume of things that need to talk to other things. And how does that get licensed because the people that are doing all this wonderful stuff deserve to get paid or so. There was also concern about globalization and how rule impacts and free trade agreements and the ubiquity of user employee populations can impact licensing. But one of the things that I pointed out was that blockchain was just starting to hit the news.
Jeremy Boerger: It still grates on me because I had a real opportunity, I had learned about bitcoin a couple of years before and it’s like, I’ll never figure this out. I’m never getting into it and then all of a sudden it gets like this insane, like 4000% return in a year. And it’s like how did I miss the boat? But I was telling folks that blockchain has a real potential to alter the way asset management is done, particularly on the software side, not so much on the hardware, the hardware… You’re seeing a lot of people starting to experiment with it for supply chain and making sure that components are being used or are, I don’t know ethically sourced or the like. So, you’re seeing that happen.
Sam Schutte: Traceability.
Jeremy Boerger: Right. But with software, blockchain has the opportunity to do something very, very important that gets to the heart of why software asset management is such a pain in the neck. And that’s because you’ve got two competing demands happening. You’ve got your users that want the latest and greatest technology to do their jobs and they want it better, faster, cheaper, right? They want to commoditize that, they want to consume that, they want to be off to the races.
Jeremy Boerger: And I’m not saying that they don’t want to pay for it, but their concern is not so much how do we pay for it, but it is how quickly can I get it to start making money myself with it. And then you have the people… The intellectual property owners. And not just the publishers, the Microsoft’s, the adobes or whatnot, but the everyday coders that want to get paid for their passion to create these wonderful new and neat tools with these new feature sets that work on these brand new pieces of hardware.
Jeremy Boerger: So the answer has been volume, license agreements, yearly true ups, audits, punishments, real heavy stuff. But blockchain, because of it’s unique ability to deal with the ledger activity, to be able to say that this thing started here and unequivocally, and without any question, we know that it passed through this person’s hands to this person’s hands and then is now over here, or we’re not even using it anymore because we sent it to the trash. And it’s ability to ensure that those changes are not being edited post change to anyone’s advantage.
Jeremy Boerger: And then thirdly, that without having to expose any more details that are necessary, you can then share that information between the two competing parties. And now it’s like, well, why do you care? Well, do you really want Microsoft to know what your credit card number is or how much you’re actually working, especially if you use sequel database in some of your stuff, but then there’s this nice flashy oracle database that you’re also dealing with. In this country we have protectionism, any-
Sam Schutte: Trust.
Jeremy Boerger: Thank you.
Sam Schutte: Anti-monopoly.
Jeremy Boerger: Yes. Anti-Monopoly, any trust. We have these concerns. We don’t want everybody running SQL because… So if you don’t necessarily want to have full exposure of your environment to any one of your publishers or any one of your suppliers, well now with blockchain you can just lay this on the table and Microsoft is going to be able to say, “Oh, well we see that you’ve been passing these pieces of software out back and forth and that’s just ours and it matches up with what we expected from your purchasing activity. So yeah, you’re good. Have a cookie, off to the races with you. We’ll talk to you in another year.”
Sam Schutte: It kind of makes sense just because the nature of even just like Bitcoin is, you can look at the blockchain and the ledger and say “Who owns this Bitcoin?” Well, it’s the last leaf in the chain, right? The last link in the chain, that’s who owns it. Right? And if it helps solve from a licensing standpoint, like okay, Jeremy was using this license and then supposedly we gave it to Sam, how do we know Jeremy’s not still using it? Because a lot of software’s not necessarily want to sort of block you from using it. Right?
Jeremy Boerger: Right.
Sam Schutte: Like you talked about maybe with Acrobat and stuff. So if it was well we know Sam’s using it and we know Jeremy gave it to him because we see that exchange in the ledger.
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah. The block coin folks call it … Block coin. The Bitcoin folks call that the conundrum of the dual use. Right? How do you ensure that the guy that gave up the usage of that particular coin isn’t still using it? Well, that’s exactly just like you said, that’s software piracy. You know, I gave you that license key. While does that mean that you’re not using the software in the background? No. But with the Bitcoin, you can set up that ledger to be able to say yes, this person is now not only not using it, but here’s the entry that says we uninstalled it on this day. So there’s an actual, almost a legal opportunity here for an organization to be able to say “Our tools says that we’re in compliance, but our employee must have done something unsavory. So I’m sorry, Microsoft, you don’t want to come after us. You want to go after that other guy.”
Sam Schutte: Interesting.
Jeremy Boerger: That’s why I’m really excited about some of these … I know of one in particular. I’m sitting on their advisory board. Maybe we should have made that a disclaimer. I can’t say who they are. We’ll have a link. You can do your own research. But they’ve got a very interesting product and working very hard to get some spit and polish on it. And yeah, I really think that that’s the end game. That blockchain is going to not just fundamentally change how we handle our software assets, but really we won’t have these conversations anymore about audit penalties and defense and-
Sam Schutte: Be non-issue sort of thing. What are some other ways that technology has impacted your customers, even just outside of asset management and some of the areas you’re working?
Jeremy Boerger: The big thing is the cloud computing, which I find funny. Right? So I’ve been at Asset Management for the better part of 20 years. I am old enough to remember … Oh brother, when my dad brought home a Radio Shack TR-80.
Sam Schutte: Yeah, Trash 80.
Jeremy Boerger: Oh yeah. And he brought it home and he plugged it in. It’s like, wow, this is neat. Right?
Sam Schutte: Yeah.
Jeremy Boerger: Playing along, of course, what’s the first thing we want to do? Can it play games? Anyway. But the neat thing about the-
Sam Schutte: I had a Commodore 64 so we were-
Jeremy Boerger: We got a Vic 20 after that because-
Sam Schutte: You’re living them large.
Jeremy Boerger: We couldn’t bring home the work computer anymore. So dad got a Vic 20. Yep. Oh, and we had a tape drive. Audio cassettes. I ruined my mom’s favorite Beach Boys cassette with a program that I think it was a guessing game that I pulled out of a like byte computing. Anyway, they typed in there. It’s like, oh yeah. Yeah, help me Ron, the [inaudible 00:04:39].
Jeremy Boerger: But the thing that makes this kind of interesting is that here’s hardware that my dad was re-purposing for fun. He wanted to show it off to the kids, but it was the work computer. It was the work hardware. The neat thing about the TR-80 was that it was something that you could operate independently of the mainframe.
Jeremy Boerger: Any of the other system terminals that they had there at the plant were all dumb terminals wired into the central hardware. Well, then we get the TR-80 and the rest of the microprocessors that pull that computing power away from the big monolithic operations into your desktop, your laptop, your mobile devices. But now what are we doing? Well, we’ve got this thing called the cloud, which is these big honking in a room centralized computing, and then they just send display information down to your mobile device or laptop.
Sam Schutte: Web browser, yeah.
Jeremy Boerger: So you have this fundamental shift, but the licensing rules I don’t think are keeping up fast enough. And you get some odd activities. I love picking on Oracle for this. You are not allowed to virtualize Oracle databases, unless you use Oracle’s virtualization service. Period. End of story. You can’t use VMware, you can’t use Azure. You can’t use AWS. If you do, the penalty is you have to pay for the entire hardware stack that your server and the Oracle database sits on. Their reasoning is we can’t say exactly-
Sam Schutte: Not just with the virtual slice or-
Jeremy Boerger: Which processor, which slice, which processor, which piece of that hard drive your system is, so it’s just easier to do all of it. Have you ever seen an AWS server?
Sam Schutte: Yeah, pretty beefy.
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah and big. So it’s those sorts of things. And now will AWS tell you “Oh yeah, if you’re going to spin this up, you better not use any Oracle stuff on here.” No, they don’t. Spin it up. Those companies that you had mentioned before that would help with uploading servers into the cloud and virtualization and Office 365, they don’t pay attention to what is actually in the move. They’re just worried about getting the move up into the cloud. So there’s some real threat to your bottom line if you don’t have a good grip on what you’re using, how you’re using it and whether or not you want to keep using it. And that’s asset management.
Sam Schutte: And you’re definitely right that a lot of these … I can hardly think of any of these cloud SaaS applications that are really all that strict with licensing, right?
Sam Schutte: The vast majority of that that I use, they are not going to stop you from giving your username or password to anyone else on any other machine and just logging in as you.
Jeremy Boerger: Indeed.
Sam Schutte: And you think about, well what would they have to do to achieve that? Well, they’d have to know like your IP address, they’d have to monitor all these other things. They might have to install client software on your system and then you’re not really cloud anymore. Right? And so, of course, that means they’re probably losing a lot because companies are sharing Salesforce logins and stuff because there’s really no way to stop that. There probably are ways to stop it. But no easy ways to stop it.
Jeremy Boerger: It’s funny you mention Salesforce. Salesforce is investing heavily in AI. Part of that AI’s function is to pay attention to usage patterns. And one of the big usage patterns is exactly what you said. If somebody’s sharing a login account, well, if you’ve got the same login account that has two completely different IPs at the same, somebody doing something unseemly.
Sam Schutte: Or even if they’re not at the same time, but if the same login is logging into from four different States within any one day-
Jeremy Boerger: Right. Well-
Sam Schutte: There’s few flights that would land in [crosstalk 00:00:09:13].
Jeremy Boerger: But what about your VPNs? If you’ve got a corporate VPN and you enforce a systematic bounds, you could be logging into Salesforce from four different locations, from the Salesforce perspective. So again, that’s where the AI comes really useful. Just like you said, it’s all this data that gets presented. How quickly can you find that pattern to catch that somebody is doing something wrong in the same way that it took me so long to find that pattern where the hospital was being double charged on their licenses.
Sam Schutte: Interesting. And what are some sweet spots outside of your standard area of focus that you’re working in? I find most consultants are always kind of doing things on the fringes sometimes too, but you know, outside of asset management, are there other things you’re kind of getting into and other services or projects you’re working on?
Jeremy Boerger: No, my company is unique that we’re focused specifically on hardware and software asset management. But not just the actual data of the hardware and software asset management. We also take a look at the processes. How are you buying your hardware and your software? Are you big enough that you should be negotiating directly with Dell? Or are your users savvy enough that it makes more sense to buy Apple computers?
Sam Schutte: That’s kind of a side service and is helping with procurement almost. It sounds like some of those [crosstalk 00:10:49]-
Jeremy Boerger: Indeed. And then at the same time, with data leakage, it sounds so … Almost sounds like a medical issue, doesn’t it?
Sam Schutte: An issue with Pringles chips or something.
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah, exactly. Oh, Stella is or Tela, yes. We can make those jokes because we live in Cincinnati, which is the home of Proctor and Gamble. Yes. Oh, thank you for that one. Data leakage is actually a big concern. The asset disposal activity is a growth industry right now. It used to be [dross 00:11:28], right? It’s garbage. We don’t have a use for it. We’ve hit it with a hammer. Nobody’s going to make any heads or tails of it. So you throw it in the recycle bin, hopefully the recycle bin, and who cares what happens after that. Well, now you’ve got privacy protection rules and GDPR and high trust and some of these regulations that are saying very specifically you have to track when you are responsible for any sort of data that comes off of that trash stream and be very explicit about who owns that device, where it is their chain of custody begin and when does the legal liability transfer from the old company to the new one?
Jeremy Boerger: So you’ve got a growth industry starting to spring up around recyclers, e-recyclers and the like that have in their service agreements, we have this kind of liability insurance. Once we take possession, we are now liable for any of all data that might be found on those devices. And then we’re going to tell you on this date, we DOD’d that hard drive. We D-caused all the RAM, this and that and other. Here’s the receipt that says that we did it and now you’re finally off the races.
Jeremy Boerger: My company does the entire asset life cycle, if you will. We can advise on do you have those kinds of protections? Do you need to seek a new E-cycler? You know and the like. And then the same things go with the software. In this country … And actually this continent, North American and …. Or I’m sorry, Canada and Mexico have very similar rules. You are not allowed to transfer software licenses. You can’t sell them outright. In Europe, you have that legal right as part of the EU.
Sam Schutte: So you don’t own the license you bought, right? More or less. You can’t sell to someone else.
Jeremy Boerger: You can, in the EU. In the United States and Canada, Mexico, you bought it, it’s yours. It is non-transferrable to anybody else. And again, that’s one of the necessities of having this yearly true up and audit rigor moral is to make sure that the licenses are staying put and the intellectual property owners are getting paid. Very interesting. So yeah, so my company is by design able to focus on all of that. So we can do something as simple as sitting in the background while you’re negotiating your Adobe use license agreement, the next agreement. We can help you prepare for that. We can give you your usage numbers and do a couple of calculations based on what you’ve already got, what you’ve been using, what your patterns are and all the way up to we’re currently redesigning the asset management system for a big cable company.
Sam Schutte: Interesting. And if I understand you’re … A lot of the ways that you find new customers and the way you get your name out there, the way that you have gotten your name out there is through some speaking engagements you’ve been doing. So tell me a little bit about where have you been speaking and where you’ve been going? Or how have you gotten into that?
Jeremy Boerger: Sure. There’s a number of service management and asset management conventions around the country. I am on the docket to speak at Fusion 19. This year it will be New Orleans. Did I say that right? New Orleans, that’s how you’re supposed to say it. That’s right. So yeah, I was actually invited back. I did another presentation that was well received the year before when they were in St. Louis.
Sam Schutte: Cool.
Jeremy Boerger: Specifically talking about how asset management is a good starting point when you’re redoing your CMDB and your configuration item databases. I will be speaking at the same summit up in Chicago. This’ll be my third year in a row with Steve Rossman. So that’s a really in depth. That’s where the … As one of the friends put it, this is where the propeller heads come together and come up with what’s going on. This is where you start seeing people trading notes and it’s like “Oh, I’ve got this problem.” This is where … Like some of the other really aggressive software publishers. Who’s on the hunt? Who’s getting more aggressive? Who used to work at this one place that was a real jerk? Oh yeah. He’s not working over here. Oh, okay. So in six months, you’re going to be dealing with him. Got it. Right. So those sorts of things. So yeah, it’s been fun. It’s been exhausting. And I’m also writing a book.
Sam Schutte: I was going to ask you about that. I thought last time you had mentioned that.
Jeremy Boerger: I’m about halfway through the manuscript and it’s about [crosstalk 00:17:01]-
Sam Schutte: Sound like it’s like on a scroll somewhere in the basement with a candle.
Jeremy Boerger: IT feels that way sometimes. Yeah, it’s about our process. So it’s called Pragmatic IAITAM and it’s going to be about how do you set up one of these systems and what does it look like and how do you measure how effective you are. So we’ll see what happens.
Sam Schutte: Interesting. And so when do you think you’ll have that done?
Jeremy Boerger: Well, it was supposed to be this year. So it’s looking more like it’ll be next year. My wife would like it done this year. How’s that?
Sam Schutte: And so for folks out there listening, I guess, what are some of the most ideal customers that you’d be looking to work and what are the main, you know, top three problems that someone might have that they should reach out to you for?
Jeremy Boerger: Right. So I’m doing a lot of work right now with third party service providers. And they’re very interested in using asset management to expand their revenue stream so they can do … You know, the usual folks that do the placement, you know, some of the purchasing … And I’m talking like CDW, Zones, Insight Global, some of those folks. Not quite that big. But there is an opportunity for their existing customers. They see that there’s that need and oh, by the way, we’re going to bring in one of the best and the brightest in the field to help talk to you.
Sam Schutte: So these are companies that sell all kinds of software to all kinds of customers that they could say “Hey, would you like someone to come in and audit and figure out what’s going on and see if you could save licensing costs?”
Jeremy Boerger: 30% is a nice big number. So that’s that. Now the kinds of people that benefit from a hardware and software asset program, like I said earlier, the lower limit is usually around 100 employees, especially if those 100 employees all rely on their own laptop software, et cetera. And I might actually have to revise this up now that I think about it. 100 is usually where you begin to qualify for the entry-level volume license agreements. Microsoft earlier in the year up there limit from 100 to 500. Again, part of it is that five licensed Cal-
Sam Schutte: Yeah.
Jeremy Boerger: Yeah. They need to make up the loss. But no. So they’re new limit is now 500 and where Microsoft goes a lot of the other publishers are going to go as well, I suspect. So those are the customer base that we’re really looking for are if you’re big enough and you haven’t started taking advantage of the volume licensing agreements that are out there, give us a call. We can help figure out what do you really have, what makes the most sense.
Jeremy Boerger: For folks that do have volume license agreements, if you have pain and suffering when you get that audit letter, odds are real good it’s because you don’t have the data to help you with those negotiations and push back on those audits. That’s where my company comes in because let’s face it, she with the best documentation is going to win the day. It wasn’t the numbers that I was able to present to Microsoft to recover that duplicate licensing. It was getting into the language and the documentation, being able to say “Here’s what these people are using and here’s what it looks like in your own tools. So don’t tell us we don’t know what’s going on.”
Sam Schutte: The difference between the words or and and. You know, like very detailed stuff, right?
Jeremy Boerger: Indeed. Indeed. And that’s something that you know, organizations that are this size will sometimes rely on their legal department to catch this stuff. The legal department is there to protect you from the legal standpoint. The minutia of how you are using this software and whether the actuality of the environment matches up with what the legal documentation says, they can’t tell you that. It’s unfair to ask a lawyer that. I mean, they can only say what they can speak to and they know the legal documentation and the laws that they’re apply. They have no idea what Billy Bob down in accounting is actually using on his computer.
Sam Schutte: Yeah. Well, so what is your website and phone number if folks who are interested in speaking to you?
Jeremy Boerger: Oh goodness. So I never call myself. I actually have to look that up. So the website is Boergerconsulting.com. It’s very simple, very easy because after dealing with Oracle audit, the last thing you want is something terribly complicated and horrendous, right? So all the contact details are on the website. So go to Boergerconsulting.com and the name is a crazy German spelling. So it’s B-O-E-R-G-E-R consulting.com, but you can also call us at the main number 513-394-6317.
Sam Schutte: Great. Well Jeremy, it’s been so fun to talk to you. It’s pretty cool to see as you’ve kind of really dove deeper and deeper into this specialty since I’ve known you from quite a long time ago when you were, you know, like you said, in more general IT support. You’re just becomes such a in-depth expert in this particular field. So it’s been great having you. I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Jeremy Boerger: We’ll thank you and I should also mention on how much of a mentor you’ve been to me. You know, staying in contact and as you stepped up Unstoppable Software and have offered a lot of good advice for me starting my own company. So, thank you so much and it’s been a pleasure.
Sam Schutte: I appreciate that.
Jeremy Boerger: All right.
Sam Schutte: Thanks.
Jeremy Boerger: Good luck to ya.
Sam Schutte: You too.
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