How to Effectively Govern Adobe SaaS and On-Premise Software Estates

By Jim Hussey


June 21, 2021

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As the enterprise SaaS segment continues its meteoric growth, organizations are facing an increasingly complex challenge. How can they effectively manage compliance and license assets in software estates comprised of both on-premise and SaaS licenses? Perhaps no software publisher sums up this challenge better than Adobe. Governance and license optimization are a dual threat to enterprise customers with Adobe SaaS and on-premise deployments.

Adobe jumped head-first into the cloud when it migrated its portfolio of flagship digital media and marketing solutions to cloud-only delivery. While Adobe has been aggressive about moving customers’ entire estates to the cloud, the vendor still offers on-premise licensing for some of its products and many enterprise customers continue to choose this delivery model.

The continued availability of traditional license models alongside pressure to adopt the Adobe SaaS model has effectively created a sort of “channel conflict” when it comes to asset management and compliance. There is one set of processes required to manage cost and risk for the on-premise licenses, and a different set of processes for the SaaS licenses.  Part of the conflict is more responsibility has been pushed to enterprise IT sourcing professionals, who are shouldering more of the software compliance and SaaS optimization burden across numerous large software estates. Often, resources and focus are in short supply.

This challenge has a direct impact on IT procurement. As renewals approach, procurement needs accurate answers to important questions:

  1. For on-premise licenses, how many have been deployed? How does that number compare to what we are entitled to deploy? Are all of them really being used? Are all of them the optimal license type for the job at hand? The answers to these questions will determine whether there is shelfware, or whether there is compliance risk that needs to be mitigated.
  2. For SaaS licenses, how many subscriptions is the organizing paying for? Are all of them really being used? Are all of them the optimal license type for the job at hand? The answers to these questions will determine whether there is cost waste.

Adobe SaaS and On-premise – A Single Approach to a Dual Governance Threat

Adobe is known for being an aggressive software license auditor. Due to the ubiquitous nature of the vendor’s products, individuals within the enterprise often assume them to be free and easily download updates and versions with little internal control. In addition, Adobe’s products are easily included in standard desktop/server builds with those doing the deployment unaware of the compliance implications of their actions.

Meanwhile, it’s also easy for users to register at the Creative Cloud portal and for SaaS licenses to proliferate. Sourcing and SAM professionals face a significant challenge to maintain accurate statistics on Adobe deployment throughout their organizations, and have limited visibility to whether deployed/subscribed licenses are actually being used, and if the license type for each user is the most cost-effective one for the job.

NPI recommends organizations focus on the following core elements to establish an effective Adobe license management process.

  1. Entitlement Centralization: Establish polices and controls that support centralization of all Adobe software request in combination with centralized organization-wide entitlement management.
  2. Download Controls: Support the policies and controls with the means to enforce appropriate administrative controls for both download and portal channels.
  3. Desktop & Server Discovery: Ensure that your SAM processes include periodic desktop scans to discover Adobe licenses. Also, don’t assume Adobe is not in the datacenter – be sure to conduct scans there on a scheduled basis.
  4. Reassignment Practices: Carefully review asset practices to ensure all licenses that are being reassigned are successfully wiped from applicable systems prior to reassignment.
  5. Educate/Communicate: Proactively communicate Adobe license management procedures to the workforce(s) that use them.

NPI encourages organizations to be diligent in how they manage their Adobe SaaS and on-premise deployments. A balance of optimization and compliance measures are required to reduce the potential risk of cost waste and noncompliance.

If you have questions about how to optimize your Adobe software estate for compliance and savings, NPI can help.