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Call for your tales of epic failures, and how you learnt and recovered from them

This article has been put together to help shape AJ Witt’s session at the 2018 UK ConferenceI never learned anything from a win. Share your epic ITAM failures and help shape the session.

This is a much-repeated mantra in the sports world. Even Mo Salah misses more shots than he scores. The legendary basketball player Michael Jordan said:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life”

As SAM professionals we’re presented with opportunities to succeed on a daily basis, particularly if you’re building a programme from scratch. There may well be so many wins in reach its hard to decide what to do first.

I did this myself, and made a ton of mistakes along the way, none of which (fortunately) got me fired. This prompted the idea for a conference session – what are the common mistakes and pitfalls for a new SAM Manager, and what do they teach you? If you had your time over, what would you do differently?

The more amusing* the story the better – I’m happy to receive anonymous contributions, or I can attribute them. If you’re feeling particularly brave and you’re coming to one of the conferences you might even want to share your epic failures in person. Names can be changed to protect the innocent, or to comply with an NDA.

My First Mistake

As a starting point here’s one of mine:

One of my first challenges was improving our inventory coverage, which was sitting around the low-80s% mark. Following the “grab the low-hanging fruit to impress the boss” approach I started work on the Wintel estate and quickly got things sorted through a mixture of login scripts, group policy settings, and Krispy Kremes for the Server Team. Inventory was up in the mid-90s and so I considered that “job done” and reported the improvement. All that was left were our Apple Macs, and a bunch of *nix boxes, most of which were legacy. After all, all the Macs had Adobe CC & Office subscriptions, and all Linux boxes are open source so I didn’t need to worry about those, right?

What I didn’t know was that those Linux VMs had been built by IBM Global Services, and were hosting an app backended with PVU-licensed software. These tiny VMs (2 vCores each) were sat on extremely over-specced physical hosts in sizeable clusters. When they were deployed there was no SAM Manager and very little IBM experience in the organisation. The systems were delivered as per the SoW which…

…unsurprisingly had no mention of sub-capacity licensing, PVUs, or ILMT.

Without ILMT we were looking at a $4m+ exposure. Which kind of killed the proud, satisfied feeling I had having just saved £25k clawing back some unused Project Standard licenses. And resulted in my first cold-sweat sleepless night as a SAM Manager.

Moral of the story? Know your environment. Even a couple of VMs can kill you, particularly if they’re running IBM, Oracle, or SAP software. Also know who the application owners are, and gather usage stats. This particular non-compliance was resolved easily by decommissioning the boxes, which hadn’t been used for a number of years and had been neglected by our Server Team who were also focused on the quick wins in the Wintel estate. The hardest bit was tracking down an application owner for them in order to prove that they could be switched off with no loss of service.

*c’mon – we all know ITAM is funnier than The IT Crowd, right?


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About AJ Witt

A former IT Asset Manager, AJ is Industry Analyst for The ITAM Review. He's interested in hearing from end users of ITAM tools and also vendors. He enjoys writing about the SaaS Management market, practical aspects of ITAM operations, and the strategy of major software publishers. You can connect via email ( or LinkedIn. AJ is based in the New Forest where he enjoys cycling, walking, spending time with his family, and keeping chickens

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