The ITAM Review

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

What you need to know – ITAM and Licensing Terms


Key phrases;

Activation: When the software is installed, a serial number of activation code is required to unlock use to the software. Allows vendor to track activations and also allows them to stop any unauthorized installs.

Application: Software name.

Asset Management: Process where organisations collect, maintain and manage all of the assets it owns (hardware, software etc). Data can be used in a number of ways including insurance, software licensing, maintenance and cost of ownership.

Asset: Physical item that is of value to the organisation.

Audit: A review of your assets. Vendors discover installs, usage and documentation of all of its products on the estate. Looks for any non-compliance or copyright infringement.

Internal Review: An internal review of your assets. SAM Manager looks at install base vs entitlement and ensures there are no non-compliancy or copyright infringements. All documentation must be found and organised/stored properly.

Baseline: Measurement used as a basis for future comparison. 

Benchmark: Processes that relate to an organizations review and evaluation of its processes and procedures with regards to current best practices. Comparing processes to others and learning how they can be approved upon.

Best Practice: Industry specific processes and procedures that are generally accepted as being the most effective.

Business case/justification: Justification for the proposed change or request. Must highlight the financial impacts and the benefits of the request.

Business Software Alliance (BSA): Represents the world’s biggest vendors in combating software copyright infringements and piracy.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): Component within a device that can run a program.

Centralized: Process that defines an approved set of standards that come from a single source or location.

Certificate of Authenticity (COA): Document provided by the vendor or copyright holder either in physical or electronic form that specifies that the product is genuine.

Client Server: Link between desktop computers and a centralised server.

Cloud: Hosted services via the Internet. Relates to storage, services and licensing.

Compliance Management: Process by which the procurement, licensing and configuration processes are monitored to ensure software is used legally.

Compliancy: User follows the terms and conditions set out by the vendor for the use of the software license.

Configuration Management Database (CMDB): Information related to all components of the IT estate.

Copyright: Process that protects the vendors intellectual property and relates to all software licenses.

Counterfeit Software: Software that has been copied illegally and sold without legal copyright documentation or licensing information.

Decentralized: Where assets are not part of the approval process and no process is in place to ensure overall control of assets. Managed by individual users or departments.

Definitive Software Library (DSL): Software library that holds the physical or electronic media for software used. Can also related to a library where definitions for all approved software are held and what the request process for that application is.

Desktop: Computing device.

Laptop: Portable device that has same functionality as a desktop.

Disaster recovery (DR): Process when an organisation plans a recovery process for potential disasters that may occur. Implemented to help reduce the loss of data and time taken to recover the estate should there be a disaster.

Discovery Tool: Tools that scan the network to ‘discover’ what hardware and software are on the network/within the estate.

Disposal: Ensures the proper disposal of hardware and software assets. Must comply with local laws and legislations.

End User License Agreement (EULA): The EULA binds customers to legally agree/acknowledge a large number of terms and conditions. Usually presented during installation where users simply click ‘agree’.

Entitlement: The rights granted to the user of the licensed software. The entitlement is defined within the license agreement.

Executable file: Referred to as an ‘exe’, this is the file that is run to launch an application.

Federation Against Software Theft (FAST): Helps to enforce the copyright terms provided by software vendors. Don’t have as much legal clout as they once previously had.

Full Packaged Product (FPP): Physical, ‘off the shelf’, standard software.

IMAC (Installs, moves, adds and changes): When technical staff manages and distribute assets.

International Standards Organisation (ISO): International standards body that contains various representatives from different national standards. Sets standards that can become law.

Inventory: Hardware and software discovered within the organisations estate. Can be found either manually or with tools.

IT Asset Management (ITAM): Business practices that are implemented to support the life cycle management of IT systems such as hardware and software.

Software Recycling: The process of validating the installed software on the estate and ensuring all users are utilizing the software license. If there are any non-usage results or lack of optimization the license can be removed and re-distributed to a user with requirements.

Software Asset Management (SAM): business practice that involves managing, optimizing the purchase, deployment, maintenance, utilization, and disposal of software assets within an organisation. This is the management of software assets throughout their lifecycle.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI): Metrics used to quantify objectives to help reflect/monitor the overall strategic performance and goals of an organisation.

Large Account Reseller (LAR): Related to large, value added resellers as defined by the vendor.

License Management: Process that helps maintain and manage software licenses.

Life Cycle: Managing assets (software or hardware) from the point they are requested to their disposal.

Local Area Network (LAN): Network covering a small geographical radius like a single department or office.

License Pool: Available licenses that are not in use. Can be generated after the competition of an internal audit or through procurement of more licenses.

License: A license is a legal document between the vendor and end user highlighting the terms of use.

Maintenance: Defines the terms and conditions for a service. This is a contractual agreement between the vendor and end user.

Master Agreement: The ‘master’ agreement between the vendor and end user where the terms and conditions are set for all future agreements relating to the same topic.

Network: Interconnected computers and systems.

Non- Compliance: Not following the legal information and terms and conditions of the software license. For example, using the software without purchasing a license.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): Contract that states that none of the parties involved in the communications will reveal any information covered by the agreement. Legal action can follow should one of the parties break the terms of the NDA.

Non-perpetual: End user does not own any aspect of the license for a great period of time. Subscription licensing is an example of a non-perpetual license.

Subscription: A license that has a set start and end date. At the end of the agreement the end user can no longer use the license in question without renewing the subscription.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM): Software that comes with the hardware from a reseller. OEM licenses are locked to the devices they come with.

Perpetual: A license that is owned by the end user. No expiry date so can be used for as long as the end user requires. One off purchase.

Portable device: Can relate to a tablet computer or a laptop. Any device that can be moved easily and isn’t restricted to one location.

Proof of purchase: Proof that the asset has been purchased. Highlights the fact that a legal transaction has been made for the use of the copyrighted software. This document can be an invoice, credit card receipt or vendor records amongst many other options.

Repository: Software database that contains all historic information relating to the ITAM estate.

Return on Investment (ROI): Money gained vs Loss on investment.

Secondary Use Rights: Allows end users to use software on two devices. The secondary device may be a home PC (‘Home-Use Rights’) or a laptop (‘Portable-Use Rights’).

Serial Number / License Key: Required for use of most applications. Unique key that allows the vendor to track installs/deployments.

Service Level Agreement (SLA): Service contract that defines the level of service provided during the agreement. Roles, responsibilities and risks are clearly highlighted in the SLA.

Software As A Service (SaaS): Service based model that offers organisations a different option when purchasing a software license.

Terms and Conditions (T&C’s): Rule’s and regulations and highlight of risk between the vendor and end user.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Financial evaluation that assists organisations in establishing direct and indirect costing’s relating to the hardware and software that they have purchased.

Vendor: Product provider and copyright holder.

Version: Release of a product that has a specific list of features that differs to other versions.

Version Control: Process that allows an organisation to control what versions and features are used within the estate.

Virtual Machine (VM): Software that is run on a single physical machine through a virtual environment. This stops the need for another physical device.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN): Communications network (start) distributed through another network (middle) to end up at a specific network (end).

Warranty: Time period during which the vendor provides free support should the product break or if the end user has any issues with the product.

Wide Area Network (WAN): Large area networks that links communication and information between boundaries such as department, offices and countries.

License Metric Description
Academic License specifically for Academic institutes. License must be used in accordance with the terms and conditions specified for academic use
Annual License Yearly license agreement. Contractual agreement between vendor and customer.
Capacity Based License License is based on the capacity of the CPU/Hard Drive or other hardware configuration elements.
Click Through License Usually related to software that is downloaded from the internet. Also related to the click-through agreement when installing software. Before installation the user must click through the license agreement to agree to comply.
Client Access License (CAL) Allows users to connect to server software to use the software’s features/functions.
Cloud Credits Cloud credits are the unit of measurement required to perform certain tasks or rights to run certain applications provided by the vendor. Hosted in the cloud
Concurrent License Multiple users are allowed to access the software at the same time. Can also be referred to as a ‘Network License’
Enterprise License Enterprise (all company owned sites/departments) is defined in a license agreement
Font License Font specific license. Specific to types
Freeware License requires no purchase but the copyrights are still held by the developer. Developer can sell the software in the future and does not distribute the source code
General Public License (GPL) License and software available for free. Allows users to use, share, copy and modify the software
Machine based license Also known as a ‘device license’. License is locked to the machine.
Named user license License is assigned to a named user who must be identified to ensure the license agreement is validated
Network License License that covers machines that are on the same network infrastructure
Off the shelf Also known as ‘FPP (Fully packaged product)’. Usually device or user based
Open Source license Free for use, but with restrictions. EULA and terms of use should be checked before use
Processor Based Also known as ‘CPU based’. Relates to licensing the overall capacity of the device or the processors in the device
Public domain software License that is free to use without any restrictions
Single User Only a single assigned user can use the license
Site License Single license that covers a whole site. Sites can be defined from a whole country to a single floor or department
Software Credits Server based credits that provide a unit of measurement that are required to perform certain tasks or rights to use the software that are provided by the vendor.
Subscription License License only available during time of subscription. No rights to use it pre or post agreement dates (unless agreement renewed)
Trial License Can also be known as ‘Shareware License’. The software may be tried for a set period of time before purchase or removal
Upgrade License Upgrade from older version to a newer version of an application. Incentives are provided by the vendor to try and push the upgrade
Volume license A number of licenses are purchased during a single transaction.


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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!


  1. Dave Shaffer says:

    Great List – this will be very helpful! Thanks for posting.

  2. David Foxen says:

    No problem Dave!

  3. rina says:

    thank you so much for providing this list it is incredibly helpful , since i am new at this and wanting to learn more about it. i do have a question is there any type of practice exams out there i can use to practice before taking the actual certification exam?

    thank you

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