Implementing a strong Software Asset Management (SAM) program at your organization can offer immense benefits in terms of software cost optimizations, governance, and operational efficiencies.
To fully capitalize on the benefits SAM has to offer, organizations must implement a SAM tool alongside an established SAM team and process. Traditionally, SAM tools have been focused around compliance, and therefore, identifying deployed software assets throughout the organization and comparing those to purchased licenses to avoid an audit. While this remains a key part of SAM, organizations are now seeking to adopt SAM to meet modern needs.
Three Technology Trends Disrupting Organizations
There are three key trends prominent across organizations today which are increasing the need for software asset management:
- Digital Transformation: This refers to the shift in workflows, services, and operations across organizations to meet demands of consumers and employees. This ultimately allows for greater accessibility and efficiency by digital means. As organizations increase digital assets to meet these needs, they are in need of increasing of SAM to monitor these assets throughout their lifecycle.
- Cloud: As software “as a Service” (SaaS) models become the new norm, software assets are moved out of the traditional datacenter and into the cloud. This can diminish visibility into deployed assets, while the consumption of software without installation makes it more difficult to monitor software compliance. The risk of overspend is very prevalent when utilizing cloud technologies without the correct monitoring tools.
- Cybersecurity: has become a major concern for all businesses. SAM helps monitor software assets and their maintenance to ensure they are updated and not vulnerable to cyberattacks.
As organizations optimize their operations to adapt to these key trends, SAM tools will be necessary in monitoring increasing numbers of applications and solutions in a manageable and efficient way.
Before Selecting Your SAM Tool
Before focusing on SAM tools and features, it is first important to address the infrastructure that must already be in place for a successful SAM program. SAM, by definition, is the necessary people, processes, and technology for effective management of software assets. Therefore, before moving into the tool selection stage, there has to be a SAM team in place to manage the tool, and processes in place which will allow the information collected and presented by the tool effective.
Next, the SAM team will have to thoroughly assess what they specifically need out of their SAM tool. Every organization will have different needs based on their size, the publishers they use, and their IT environment.
The SAM team will have to consider what kind of tool and features will best align with their processes and organizational needs. For example, should your organization use an agent or non-agent based SAM discovery tool? This refers to the method of inventory collection, and whether an agent installed on each computer collects and monitors inventory, versus a non-agent network-based approach to asset discovery.
Selecting a SAM Tool to Meet Modern Initiatives
Once the SAM team is aligned on the functionality for the tool to be effective and successful, they can begin the process of researching and selecting their SAM tool. This process will vary and be subjective based on the needs of the organization. However, there are a few features that organizations should keep in mind as they aim to align their SAM program with modern business initiatives, including: intelligence, automation and visibility.
One major consideration to make when selecting a SAM tool is the intelligence it provides the SAM team outside of software inventory. As software use grows, it will be impossible to manually index all of the various factors associated with robust software asset management. Organizations will want to look for solutions that can provide this updated intelligence for them. This is especially true of software license management. Many SAM tools today can give in-depth information into compliance and risk, SKU intelligence, redundant applications, and can even provide insight into optimizing the complex licensing rules of specific vendors.
Additionally, SAM tools that provide financial intelligence can be a distinct advantage in managing assets and optimizing costs. Having this information gathered in one place allows SAM and the procurement teams to see how much an asset currently costs, as well as upcoming maintenance costs, to reveal overall financial impact. Some tools can also provide intelligence into financial risk associated with noncompliance.
Regardless of what intelligence your SAM tool collects, the end result will be a huge amount of data and intelligence. Automation will be a key feature for modern SAM tools to assist in making all of this intelligence actionable in a reasonable period of time. As critical business functions become more reliant on software and applications, there will be little patience for drawn out license approval processes, which might result in employees circumventing SAM teams altogether.
SAM must be a continual process, not something that is only considered in the face of an audit. Tools that can automate software maintenance, software requests and access, device enrollment, and more will help ensure that SAM moves at the pace of modern organizations, and help to ensure SAM processes are not ignored.
Visibility into Hybrid Environments
While many organizations still use on-premises software assets, they are also increasing their use of cloud-based SaaS applications. It is a common misconception that SAM is not necessary in the cloud, as these licenses are easily scaled based on consumption. However, this is not the case. To monitor spend, governance, and asset maintenance, organizations need a SAM tool that has visibility into, and can collect data on, assets in the cloud. To make this information more manageable, organizations will want to look for a SAM tool that correlates the data from on-premises assets and cloud assets into a single view to understand the overall software estate.
Today, SAM is more necessary than ever as modern organizations increase their software assets to keep up with competitive trends and employee and consumer needs. For SAM to be effective in these transitioning environments, organizations will need a team and process in place, as well as a SAM tool that incorporates these features uniquely suited to modern enterprise initiatives.
Organizations with less mature SAM programs, or those simply overwhelmed by the vast array of SAM tools and features, might consider consulting an unbiased third party for a SAM tool evaluation.