I remember when I first started in the SAM industry and was looking to implement a SAM tool that at the time a number of professionals and IT staff told me that they were ‘nice to have’ but not essential. At the time I could see the benefits to implementing such technologies, but also understood how people could (just about) manage their software assets through spread sheets or internal databases.
However, those days are firmly in the past. It is vital that organisations have some sort of SAM or licensing technology. These technologies have advanced and grown hugely over the past few years and are now more sophisticated and helpful as ever. The SAM technologies are now considered an asset to the organisation; such is the investment, importance and reliance an organisation places in a SAM tool.
Advances in Software Licensing Complexities
Software licensing has always been a complex matter; but in recent times software vendors have ramped up the complexities of some of their license metrics for their software. It is no longer possible to manage software licenses through excel spread sheets thanks to the license metrics and sheer value of the software asset.
The time has come whereby SAM tools are no longer just ‘nice to have’. If your organisation is serious about implementing a successful and mature SAM structure, then now is the time to invest in a sophisticated solution.
Ten to fifteen years ago, software licenses were pretty basic compared to what they are today. The main license metrics were user, device, concurrent usage and some server licenses. Most server software comes with their own license management function (as do concurrent licenses), and managing single user and device licenses was possible through excel or a homemade database.
You can certainly try and manage software assets through spread sheets, but we would be interested to know how you would optimize your licenses, monitor usage and have an understanding of the organisations compliancy levels. It’s simply not fit-for-purpose and does not allow an organisation to do SAM properly or follow best practice, which is a must in modern day IT.
Recent Strides in SAM Technologies
Hand-in-hand with the recent advancements in software licensing, SAM technologies have also made great strides over the past few years. They are now capable of providing more, sophisticated data, and they also have the ability to provide much more value-add to an organisation or SAM function.
Ability to track cloud based licenses. The leading SAM tools all have the functionality and capabilities to help organisations manage and track cloud based software licenses and applications. With software licensing moving towards the cloud based subscription model, this is now a vital component of any SAM tool and should be a must on any organisations SAM Tool shopping list!
Increased software recognition. There are millions of different applications and thousands upon thousands of software vendors currently on the market. Therefore, it is a massive challenge for SAM technology vendors to ensure that all of the organisations software is tracked through their SAM tool. However, all of the vendors are increasing the number of software titles recognised and license types associated to those applications everyday.
This means that organisations have more visibility on what is installed within their environment and helps them to manage niche and lesser known software titles.
Expert vendor license management. One of the key areas that SAM tools have improved in is the increase in the SAM tools knowledge of complex licensing metrics. The likes of Oracle, IBM, SAP and Microsoft are now manageable through a SAM tool, and not through the license server that comes with the software. This means that organisations can manage their Tier 1 vendors and biggest risks through the same technology, rather than having to use multiple systems and multiple data types.
The SAM Tools also have the software vendors licensing metrics created out of the box, so you can immediately see what your organisations compliancy is. In the past users have had to create their own license metrics for complicated structures, but SAM technology vendors have invested a lot of time and money in making sure the right license metrics for key vendors are created straight out of the box.
Tracking software that accesses web portals or Internet browsers. There are a number of applications that require licenses that don’t have an installer file or that are used through Internet browsers and web portals. It is still just as important to ensure that your organisation has enough licenses to access this software, and SAM tools can help monitor usage and users. This means that you can check and see if you licenses are being optimized and that the correct users have access to the software.
Mobile asset management capabilities. We are a big fan of mobile asset management and believe that it plays a big part in IT Asset Management. Therefore, it is important that you can manage the applications and data that the mobile device uses, and a number of leading SAM tools now provide MDM modules to allow you to manage your organisations mobile estate.
Finding the Right SAM Tool for You
There are a number of really strong SAM Technologies available on the market, with a few that could be considered market leader. If you are currently thinking about investing in a SAM Solution we have a number of resources that we feel could help you:
It also may be the case that you want to implement a SAM technology, but you do not have the resources of infrastructure to manage or support such a tool. Never fear, for SAM Tools As A Service is here! This means that you can still have all of the benefits of having a SAM solution, but you host it in an external environment and have either the SAM technology vendor manage and input data on a day-to-day basis, or you use one of their trusted/verified partners.
This allows organisations greater flexibility and certainly encourages those organisations that do not have the SAM or software licensing resources internally, or the ability to manage SAM technologies. It is important to remember that SAM technologies should also be considered assets; they are expensive but they provide crucial data and information for you to successfully manage your SAM estate.
Also, it is important to point out that whilst you may find that you are spending an awful lot in up-front costs, the SAM technology will pay you back in software licensing savings, reduced software budget and license optimization. Therefore, you could argue that the technology pays for itself!
The Vendors Perspective
‘If history is any indicator, software licensing will continue to evolve as new technologies change the ways organizations use software, which in turn leads software publishers to find new ways to maximize their revenue. Using a SAM solution that can react quickly to these license model changes is key to maintaining a proactive, optimized license position. Given the current skill
s gap in the marketplace for knowledgeable licensing experts, having a tool that can provide automation and supplement the knowledge gap, can increase the payback timeframe which directly appeals to senior management’s focus on cost control.’ Patricia Adams, ITAM Evangelist. LANDESK
‘If we step back ten to fifteen years ago as the article suggests; I’m quite sure that laptops weren’t considered necessary for all business users and the same for mobiles! Times have changed and so have the requirements of what made up a SAM tool. Rudimentary solutions used to just simply give you a box where you could type a licences number into a discovery tool and this used to be called licence management. However, in the same period, virtualisation was reserved for niche areas and still considered relatively cutting edge so the licence complexities we’re now familiar with weren’t even a consideration.
I remember the debate when I worked at Microsoft in 2005 around whether they too should’ve made the ‘new SQL Server 2005’ based on core licence metrics or just stick with processor based. They held out for another three versions but since 2012, Microsoft too will now charge you by the core and not the processor. Ten years ago though, the processors only had one core per processor die in most x86 based servers and so the concept of a multi-core metric was a moot point. Like any industry, IT has evolved and will continue to mature but not in the same way as all other industries as development, innovation and dynamism is still at the heart of IT.
Doctors wouldn’t be able to give the proper diagnosis without the right equipment and construction companies wouldn’t be able to build skyscrapers without the correct lifting machinery and whilst it’s based on an intangible subject, the complexities of licensing have now meant that there is no business sensible way of delivering SAM in a business without the right tools for the job’. Barry Johnson, brainwaregroup
‘We concur that SAM technologies are a must for today’s enterprises. However they are only beneficial if they can collect the right and accurate data required for Software Asset Management across desktop and data center.
Unfortunately the benefits of SAM tools mentioned in the article don’t fully extend themselves into the data center. Today most data centers software titles are still managed by spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are problematic as they are inaccurate, hard to maintain and quickly become outdated. This practice can therefore leave companies open to major compliance issues.
Data Center SAM requires a greater level of accuracy than desktop SAM. The need for greater accuracy is based on the licensing costs of data center software titles. Over counting or under counting physical servers or server core counts can cause a dramatic fluctuation in licensing costs.
While most SAM tools excel on the desktop they lack the sophistication needed to gather the clustering and virtualization details that are necessary for data center software compliance. This is particularly true for titles like Oracle Database Enterprise Edition and Microsoft SQL Server whose licensing metrics are affected by virtualization, core counts and clustering.
Enterprise SAM requires a best of breed solution that covers both desktop and data center. This solution relies on complimentary technologies. One component must address the challenge of accurate discovery and inventory. The other must be capable of consuming the first components data and managing the complex software models that exist across both the desktop and data center’. Donnie Hamlett, iQuate.
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Not only do we provide great content, but we are also hosting our 3rd Annual European Tools Day event in London on Friday 20th November 2015.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to have a look at the world’s leading SAM tool providers, and ask the experts how they can help your organisation. Places are being snapped up fast, so please register your place now.