Is SAM Dead?

In recent months there has been heated debate around the increase in problems encountered by large enterprises. Large companies need to ensure that they are not only optimising ICT investments and serviced costs, but are also compliant with software and services providers’ requirements.

This is in part due to the rapid emergence of alternative types of licence or rights of usage agreements, which have caused much confusion. The software audit and management industry has been quick to try to exploit this confusion and there have been some interesting claims and counterclaims made by several resellers, LARs and publishers that argue that they can ‘do it better’.

The heralded approach seems to focus on audits using standard interrogation tools that validate licence sales and renewals, without determining whether this is even the right agreement for the end user.

The real issue seems to be that no matter how often, or accurately, resellers who use standard toolsets audit a company, the results are usually out of date before they have been analysed and there is little independent analysis of the findings. This is because larger organisations have continually evolving asset estates, which see almost daily additions and changes to software requirements, people and processes, and dramatic changes in usage patterns.

It is also fair to say that many companies have previously not focussed on recording these changes contemporaneously, and therefore they have had little focus on compliance, unless forced by an event, such as a vendor audit. Indeed, it is quite often the case that companies who ‘survive’ an audit think they can relax because it will be at least another 12 months before they have to undergo another, but this is a naive stance to take.

It is a hugely complex problem – knitting together disparate systems and processes while coping with acquisitions, disposals, downsizing and the adoption of new ICT strategies – which has recently been compounded by the growth of outsourcing and Cloud-hosted IT. Further there has been a raft of different models for licensing introduced of late, which adds to the list of considerations.

The software asset management (SAM) market place and licence providers have recently been challenged to help address some of these problems, navigating the increasingly complex minefield of enterprise ICT investments. It has become clear that it is important to take a different approach in order to really understand the scale of these problems and directly respond to client concerns, but this is taking traditional SAM providers out of their comfort zones.

With a more intelligent approach, it is possible to interrogate systems and processes in a revolutionary way, enabling more accurate and detailed reporting and analysis. This means that clients feel empowered to gain real understanding of their infrastructures and the resulting intelligence and reports are helping them to not only achieve better compliance, but often save significant sums by understanding and rightsizing their software estates.

Expansive growth in interest around this approach is increasingly at the expense of traditional providers in this space and many are now trying to emulate the lifecycle and intelligence approach that seems to be winning out in the face of a traditional SAM approach.

The rapid evolution of the software industry, especially the challenges of SaaS and virtualisation mean that the early iterations of Software Asset Management (SAM) have become largely meaningless and a revolutionised approach is winning the race in this very sophisticated and complex industry.

Jason Allaway is co-founder and CEO of Specialist Software Services, a leading independent IT services consultancy. With over a decade of experience in the IT and software services industry, Jason’s talent and passion for delivering business optimisation through IT has seen him build a unique experience base. Rapidly establishing a reputation as a progressive industry authority from early on in his career, Jason held key positions at IBM, Veritas and Microsoft prior to setting up a successful company in the Software Asset Management space.