The evolution of SWITCHprocure

It takes a lot of effort for institutions to negotiate individual software licensing terms. There is a demand for shared solutions that simplify legal, administrative, and technical processes. Can SWITCHhub function as a mediator?

Text: Immo Noack, published on 29.04.2019

Finding joint solutions, acting united and learning from each other. These were the main objectives when we launched SWITCHprocure in 2012. At the time, universities were mainly focussed on issues such as: Where can we save by sharing sourcing solutions? Where can we streamline administrative processes? Where do framework agreements make sense? How do the parties involved share information?

Savings through coordination

The solutions to these problems were developed in close cooperation with the universities and led to framework agreements with Adobe, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, LinkedIn Learning, TeamViewer, and other companies. The outcome: sizeable savings for the universities and, as a positive side effect, university hospitals as well.

Constant change

The requirements for SWITCHprocure have shifted over time. The main questions now are: What is the best way to handle the transition from general license keys to user-based licensing? How do we move away from purchase- to leasing-based licensing models? A host of different user groups and widely varying vendor conditions create further challenges for universities if they are to avoid infringements. When licensing audits turn up legal infringements, it can soon result in high, unplanned costs. The really big changes, however, occur when products and services are shifted to the cloud. It is therefore nearly impossible to address every specific problem or the existing structures at universities. Legal issues, such as data privacy and storage location, access privileges, data analysis, transfer, and encryption, are increasingly key. Meanwhile, international companies have very little leeway for catering to specific cantonal laws or the requirements of individual universities. One country’s requirements cannot simply be transposed onto circumstances in another country. All of this means that jointly developed solutions and services, as well as cooperation at the international level, are becoming increasingly important.

SWITCHhub as mediator

The central SWITCHhub platform greatly simplifies certain tasks and saves money for universities. One advantage is that universities can source both commercial and academic services. And the services provided are based on framework agreements that govern legal, administrative and commercial aspects. Predefined scripts for cloud applications are collected in the libraries, enabling fast, well-tested configurations for cloud-based services. This also drives and facilitates the sharing of experience between the universities. Another key aspect is the ability to offer customers neutral, vendor-independent consulting. The billing processes are also set up centrally and processed transparently for universities. Thanks to the shop-in-shop structure, the platform can also be customised to meet the individual needs of universities, so they can offer access to internal university services. All of this makes SWITCHhub the ideal solution to the problems raised at the beginning.

About the author
Immo   Noack

Immo Noack

Immo Noack has been working in the SWITCH Procurement Team since November 2012. Prior to that, he held posts at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and on the Neptun project, among others. He originally graduated in Electrical Engineering.

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