There are multiple features available to assist you with the overall license management in your organization. This article decribes the feature called License Compliance Engine or just License Compliance that is available since the 6.4 release. This article does not cover Software Inventory, Software Catalog, Metering, or other license management related features in depth.
When viewing the license compliance page you will notice that it already contains a lot of entries. Every night, the license compliance queries licensed software catalog items that are uploaded by installed agent devices and creates an entry in the license compliance data pool. This behavior is by design and basically allows the administrator to understand which licensed software has been installed.
The Microsoft Windows operating system will be used as an example to further describe the license compliance feature in most detail. Assume you have a Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise license with so called software assurance / an additional service contract for the product. Typically, you are allowed to install a previous release of the software product i.e. Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise. With software assurance you are also allowed to install the next or multiple future releases such as Microsoft Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Please note that this depends on the agreement you have with the software vendor.
The following screenshot shows how this Microsoft Windows license setup example would look inside the License Compliance:
The very first thing to note is that license compliance works with software catalog items only. This means that you should only associate software catalog items to your license assets. However, it is still possible to link software inventory items to a license asset as per K1000 admin guide, if this is desired. Next, note that there are two views inside license compliance, which you can select using the view by drop-down list on the right-hand side. The above screenshot shows the view by product which lists all kind of product editions under one product category i.e. Windows (client operating systems, server operating systems appear separately). License compliance will always separate product editions and you should create a separate license asset for each product edition. Using this example and in other words, it is not possible to associate the Windows 7 Enterprise and the Windows 10 Pro item in one license asset. The next item to note is the coverage column. The below list describes available values (original, upgrade, and downgrade):
Based on the above, the screenshot shows that two license assets have been created. One original license for the Windows 10 Pro edition and one original license for Windows 7 Enterprise edition. As mentioned before, one license for each product edition should be created which is true as per the above description of coverage values. The license compliance feature will automatically apply upgrade and downgrade rights to newer and older releases depending on how the license asset is configured. In this example, the entry for Windows XP Professional appears as a downgrade since Windows 10 Pro holds the associated license asset, it is a lower release compared to Windows 10, and it has the same product edition. This is a very common downgrade right scenario.
As mentioned, the other license asset which has been created is for Windows 7 Enterprise. To illustrate an upgrade scenario, the Windows 7 Enterprise license asset has been configured with so called maintenance. You must configure the maintenance field and maintenance expiration date inside the license asset in order to make use of the upgrade function. The following screenshot shows the Windows 7 Enterprise license asset:
NOTE: The license mode inside a license asset must be set to unit or enterprise in order for the license compliance engine to consider the license in the first place.
You can see in the above screenshot that this license includes maintenance plus a maintenance expiration date. The date is typically defined in the software assurance or software service contract / license agreement with your software vendor. Based on the maintenance flag, newer releases for this software and product edition will appear as an upgrade.
The advantage of the license compliance feature lies in the upgrade and downgrade functionality and the view that you get which also includes results from software metering which can quickly tell if all available licenses have been actually used used.