The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

Why SAM Needs to Focus on Cloud

"Migrating expensive, server software to shared services and cloud based infrastructure without a proper understanding of the risks involved will cost enterprises millions of dollars."

Microsoft WPC (Worldwide Partner Conference) was held in July. I was delighted to be asked to speak at it.

The session was entitled “Cloudy, with a chance of Virtualization” – and the audience were Microsoft partners from around the world.

The key drift of my presentation was this: If you understand Cloud computing, and the impact it has on software licensing, you can offer services to large enterprises and make lots of money.

Why are Enterprises going to pay lots of money for services in these areas? Because a proper understanding of the risks and costs involved in moving expensive, data center/server software into shared services and cloud based infrastructure will save large enterprises millions of dollars, while reducing risk. If you don’t agree strongly with that sentence, let me invert it for you: migrating expensive, server software to shared services and cloud based infrastructure without a proper understanding of the risks involved will cost enterprises millions of dollars. Do you agree now?

If you are an ITAM or SAM professional (internal to the enterprise, or an external consultant), and you want to provide significant value to your employer/customers – you need to focus on this area.

Focus on the right cloud!

SAM and ITAM projects and especially discovery technologies have traditionally focused on desktop software. In my opinion, this was a mistake. Large enterprises spend 70% of their software budget in the datacenter, not on “desktop” software, BYOD or mobile computing. As we move forward, I suggest that SAM and ITAM practitioners need to ensure they understand “Cloud” – and focus most of their attention appropriately. There are three main types of cloud:

  1. SaaS – Software as a Service
  2. PaaS – Platform as a Service
  3. IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

Currently, most hype/focus is on SaaS – this is the biggest sector, worth over USD $12bn in 2011. Analyst predictions see this reaching $22bn by 2015. SaaS poster boys include and Office365. For the enterprise, understanding and controlling SaaS is important, but relatively simple. The SaaS providers bill monthly and typically provide excellent visibility and billing breakdowns. You need to ensure visibility here, and that your systems and processes can cope with monitoring SaaS spend, but you don’t need to worry, the data you need to understand should be easily to hand.

PaaS is, at the moment, relatively uninteresting to the enterprise. Azure and Cloudbees are examples of PaaS. The PaaS market was worth USD $0.5bn in 2011, by 2015 this will have grown to $1.7bn, a minnow next to the other cloud types. PaaS is mainly used by SaaS companies as a platform for their offerings and to interconnect data.

IaaS is where your focus as an enterprise SAM practitioner needs to be. The phrases “Internal Cloud”, “External Cloud” and “Hybrid Cloud” typically refer to IaaS clouds. Moving from physical servers to an internal, shared services cloud of VM’s is what IaaS is all about. Migrating from internal VM’s to externally hosted VM’s in Amazon AWS or Rackspace is also IaaS. IaaS was only worth USD $4.2bn in 2011. This is set to grow massively, to $19.6bn by 2015 – IaaS is the game changer for enterprise/corporate IT.

Make sure you know what you need to know

Data center transformation and cloud migration projects need involvement from IT Asset Management and Software Asset Management functions before, during and after project implementation.

Before: If your CIO, Enterprise Architects or IT organization is even thinking about considering a transformation or migration – you need to understand what you have in place right now, so that you can analyze what systems to potentially migrate. This means you need to know what servers are running which databases, application servers, web servers, email systems, etc. You need to know the details of their physical and virtual hardware configuration, clustering, database and app server editions, options, interconnectivity, etc.

Once you understand all of that, you can begin to consider how to structure/dedicate different server farms to different technologies to leverage their licensing as it relates to hardware measurement (PVU/Processor/Core licensing), failover and clustering. You can then model the cost implications of a transformation or migration.

If you don’t have the details you require, you can’t understand the full costs or benefits involved…

During: Playing “shuffle” with your mission critical systems is something best done with careful planning and complete visibility. Knowing what’s where and how it’s interconnected means you can minimize risk during this stressful process.

If you don’t have this visibility during migration, something surprising is bound to happen. Surprises are never pleasant during a major systems move!

After: Once the dust has settled and your systems are now operating in their new, virtual reality, you need to maintain vigilance. The virtual servers which systems are running on are typically more fluid. You need to continually be aware of what is running where so that you can ensure the right workloads (software!) is running on the right clusters/farms (hardware!).

Deploying a VM running (for example) Oracle products onto a VM cluster not licensed for those products can be a very expensive mistake if not prevented (or identified and corrected quickly). At the same time, when properly managed, cloud based systems can massively reduce the cost of the software deployed on them. Post migration, you can run a more flexible, often faster, more highly redundant environment with less cost – IF you can manage and maintain visibility. Without that visibility the risk of negative impact from a vendor audit is massively increased.


If you have clear visibility of your software and hardware assets and can maintain visibility of physical and virtual hardware as data center transformation and cloud migration projects re-shape the IT landscape – you can leverage the power of IaaS infrastructure and reduce your overall costs.

Whether you’re are an external or internal provider of expertise in this area, understanding where to focus in “Cloud computing” and how to leverage software licensing and migration scenarios can bring you, and your employer/customer significant benefits.

About Jason Keogh

Jason is the CTO and founder of iQuate. Jason is responsible for iQuate’s product vision and is well regarded as an expert in the spheres of IT discovery, inventory and SAM. Jason speaks at several industry conferences each year. In 2012 Jason joined the ISO/IEC 19770 working group with a goal of ensuring its work reflects, and is relevant to, enterprise cloud based computing.

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