Research unveils barriers to effective software asset management

The Software Industry Research Board has welcomed the latest research issued this week by Ernst and Young on software asset management, which revealed that most vendors and customers are actively addressing the issue of software compliance, albeit with some major gaps.

These results are encouraging as they illustrate that corporate Britain is viewing SAM as a means of direct and indirect cost saving.

However the Ernst & Young research has also highlighted a number of gaps in license compliance. As IT estates grow and become ever more complex, companies are faced with an ever growing issue of keeping track of software licenses. And with the advent of Cloud computing models, this is becoming even harder to control. From a management perspective this could mean that they are less prepared for potential vendor audits and even reduce their options for software harvesting and the associated monetary gain.

Software asset management is about more than just a compliance tool. The centralisation of information about software applications that follows the outlines of SAM enables organisations to monitor and control the cost of their software assets in effect improving application performance and optimisation across the workforce. Acting as a key mechanism for transforming software from a cost centre to a strategic asset.

Although the main reason for compliance is to generate revenue, software suppliers also want to protect their intellectual property rights and as a subsequent result, help their customers to better manage their software assets. SAM tools help users identify software in use, reconcile licenses with actual usage and identify any gaps, helping vendors and customers to avoid under licensing and over-licensing – which are both common issues for large corporate companies and SMEs alike.

The survey shows that companies are concerned about incurring significant additional costs through an audit, so are embracing software asset management, to take greater control over the use of software around their businesses. In particular, the findings shine light on the fact they’re keen to save money and reduce the risk of non-compliance, however, there is still a real need for better control over quality of audits and both customers and suppliers have a responsibility to achieve absolute compliance.

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Matt Fisher is a director of the ITAM division at FrontRange Solutions and is the current chairman of the Software Industry Research Board (SIRB), a group of software vendors and practitioners dedicated to promoting better software management practices in the UK. Matt has been closely involved with the IT asset management arena for more than six years, championing the benefits that organisations can realise through Software Asset Management (SAM).