License Compliance


Architecting SAM: Designing a robust software asset management program gives HOK the competitive advantage of flexibility.

"With enterprise licensing agreements underpinning our SAM program, we have the ultimate flexibility. We can be very nimble and accommodate any project."
—Ken Young, CIO, HOK

HOK uses Autodesk software to design a software asset management system.

Project Summary
HOK creates award-winning planning, design, and delivery solutions for buildings and communities all over the world. The company is also the greenest design firm on the planet, according to a 2009 sur­vey published in Engineering News-Record magazine. Known for its ability to handle large and complex projects, HOK makes it a priority to provide the software tools its employees need to develop innovative, ground-breaking designs. To better manage its worldwide network of software assets, HOK developed a comprehensive software asset management (SAM) program more than a decade ago. Since then, the company continues to refine its SAM program, develop best practices, and enjoy the benefits of a comprehensive SAM process. Thanks to SAM, HOK can:

  • Provide architects with the software they need—when they need it
  • Redeploy underused software
  • Stay in compliance with software licensing agree­ments
HOK uses Autodesk software to design a software asset management program.

The Challenge
HOK tends to tackle challenging projects. “We cover almost every market and every building type around the world,” says Ken Young, HOK’s CIO. “We’re no strangers to impossible schedules, com­plex sites, and globally dispersed stakeholders.”

With complicated projects, effective collaboration is key. Not only is the firm’s expertise spread through­out the world, it has adopted an integrated project delivery (IPD) and building information modeling (BIM) approach to projects. This approach requires a high degree of communication and coordination between team members—and calls for all teams on a project to work on a single building model. To keep BIM data coordinated, up to date, and acces­sible, HOK relies on its software assets.

“Our design teams must be able to access the latest and greatest software when and where they need it,” says Young. “And as the CIO, I need to know that we have enough copies to support their work and stay in compliance with licensing rules.”

The Solution
When HOK began to solidify its position as a global firm a decade ago, Young seized the opportunity to refine its SAM practices. “Central to my approach was standardizing on a toolset—and basing our libraries and training on that toolset,” Young explains. Currently, HOK has AutoCAD Revit Architecture Suite—which includes AutoCAD software—and AutoCAD Revit MEP Suite installed companywide. HOK also uses Autodesk 3ds Max Design software for design visualization and Autodesk Alias Design software to create uniquely shaped architectural forms.

GNUL Cornerstone of HOK SAM Program
Young wanted to make sure that a complete set of software was put on every computer the company owned—at every single location around the world. To simplify management of these software assets, he purchased enterprise licenses for the com­pany’s standardized software, including the Global Network Usage License (GNUL) for Autodesk titles. “We have a pool of licenses that people can check out anywhere in the world,” Young says. “We don’t have to worry about being under-licensed or using software in the wrong country—our GNUL gives us the flexibility we need.”

In addition to purchasing enterprise-level licenses such as the GNUL, HOK uses a third-party software management tool to track installations and usage for titles it hasn’t installed companywide. “Knowing which software is installed but not being used is very helpful,” says Dermot Delaney, IT operations manager at HOK. “I can reassign underutilized soft­ware without buying a new license.”

SAM Best Practices
When asked about software asset management best practices, Delaney doesn’t hesitate. “Centralize purchasing,” he says. “One person should manage the software and do all software purchasing for the company.”

Other best practices Delaney uses include conduct­ing regular audits and preventing users from being administrators on their machines. “If you started at HOK tomorrow, you’d have a machine that’s completely imaged,” says Delaney. “It has the exact same software as the person sitting next to you. The goal is to keep the computer that way over its lifespan.”

HOK also stores all software licensing agreements in a central repository, so Delaney can keep track and access them when needed.

The Result
Taking SAM seriously, HOK has avoided many of the headaches associated with poor software asset management. “Because we opted for enterprise licenses, such as the Autodesk GNUL, we don’t have to manage licenses office by office or country by country,” he says. “If one country grows or shrinks, we don’t have to worry about moving licenses around.”

Young can rest easy knowing that HOK is in compliance while giving architects the tools they need to get their jobs done. “If we have new talent coming onboard for a project, it’s not a problem,” says Young. “With enterprise licensing agreements underpinning our SAM program, we have the ulti­mate flexibility. We can be very nimble and accom­modate any project.”

Young concludes, “It’s a central part of HOK’s ethic to play it straight. And having good software asset management practices lets us do just that.”

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