The ITAM Review

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Picking the right Software Asset Management tool (Part 1 of 2)

The time has come for your organisation to get a SAM tool. You’ve decided to buy into the idea of software asset management and you want to manage and utilise your software licenses better. You’ve received the backing from senior management, and you’ve been given a nice healthy budget to get the best solution for your organisation.

There are a large number of SAM tools on the market today, so how do you decide which is the right one for you? It’s not an easy decision to make, and rushing into purchasing a tool just because the salesman gave a good pitch could lead you into a world of pain. Picking the right tool for your organisations environment is key to your SAM programs successes. It’s no easy task, and can end up being a lengthy project in itself.

Identifying what you actually want out of a SAM tool

This sounds like a silly question, but it is a valid one. What do you want from the tool? There are a number of different offerings on the market, including inventory and discovery tools, metering tools, or a tool that does it all (within reason, no silver bullet tools!). There are a number of solutions out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Organisations need to establish what it is they expect from a SAM tool;

  • Sophisticated License Management (for Oracle, SAP, IBM etc)
  • Inventory and discovery
  • Metering (passive or active)
  • Usage stats (run times, use times etc)
  • Datacentre management
  • Virtual environments management (VMWare, Hyper-V etc)
  • Mobile devices management (MDM)
  • Custom objects management

Along with those points, also for consideration are;

  • Data that can be reported. How are reports generated?
  • Agent or Agentless technology?
  • Do you have web-based applications? An increasingly important factor when picking a tool
  • Do you require cloud based application and license management?
  • How many licenses do you require? What are the IT plans for the next few years?
What do you want from the tool?

What do you want from the tool?

Options currently on the market

As mentioned previously there are already a number of solutions on the market some that specialise in certain areas of ITAM. Dependant on your requirements, you may need something that falls into a category other than a general SAM tool. e.g. If you already have some sort of management system for your server environment, hardware assets or mobile devices.

Inventory and Discovery
  • Inventory and discovery, finding what’s out there and reporting back as much data as possible
  • Focuses on hardware (desktops, laptops, servers, etc)
  • Some options have a MDM solution integrated
Specialist License Management (SAP, IBM, Oracle)
  • Focuses on managing specialist license metrics
  • Still offers a SAM solution, but may not provide mature license management for other license metrics
Datacentre/Server solution
  • Specialises on the datacentre and server environment
  • Provides both extensive hardware and software information
  • Primary focus on the hardware asset management aspect
  • Generally has some form of SAM, but not that sophisticated
  • Some options have a MDM solution integrated
Overall SAM Tool
  • General SAM tool that provides options for all the above
  • May not be as specialist in certain area’s, but provides an all-round solution

If you are purely looking at managing mobile devices, then I would suggest that a SAM tool isn’t for your organisation. You’ll need a dedicated and sophisticated MDM solution rather than an overall SAM tool. With that said, some SAM tools do actually have MDM integration, so it might be worth looking at which ones do as they may fit the organisations environment easier.

In part two of this series in SAM tools we’ll look at the further issues organisations need to consider when implementing a SAM tool, especially around capability issues and what to look out for when picking a tool


The ITAM Review is hosting a ‘Tools Event Day’ in New York on Wednesday 28th January 2015. This is a great opportunity for ITAM Review readers and end-users to come see ITAM Tools in action, and speak to the tool vendors. You can find out more information about this and the rest of our New York event lineup here!

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About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!

One Comment

  1. Hi David,

    Great Article. I often find that companies which have more complex environments (not necessarily large companies) are asking the question “What SAM tools” not “What SAM tool”. As you point out, different tools have different capabilities and we might find that its a combination of existing AM tools and new AM / SAM tools which meet the tooling capability requirements of the customer. Look forward to the next installment!

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