7 Biggest Challenges

SAM in The Cloud

SAM in The Cloud: 7 Challenges That May Come Across Your Way

Most organizations do not realize the effects a transition to the cloud can have on their Software Asset Management (SAM) program. It may seem like most incompliancy issues become obsolete in the cloud, but these issues are replaced with new risks. What to look out for.

Many organizations with an on-premise environment are incompliant. Why? Because licensing is becoming increasingly complex and obscure, and because SAM does not have priority within organizations.

In the event of incompliancy, software manufacturers more and more frequently recommend transitioning to the cloud. Organizations think that solves their compliancy challenges - because licensing in the cloud is user-based and that’s simple, right?

On the contrary. Carefully structuring processes and executing management are even more important in the cloud than in an on-premise environment, as the (financial) damage is much more severe if this is not done properly. What are the main challenges of Software Asset Management in a cloud environment?

Challenge #1: Licenses are user-based

Licenses in the cloud are generally user-based. That sounds simple, but it also leads to misunderstandings. For example, if five people use one mailbox, an organization has to purchase five licenses, and not one (which is often the case). On the other hand, many other organizations assign a license to a shared mailbox, while that is not necessary (if the users also have their own mailbox and are thus already licensed).

Challenge #2: Too many Licenses

While organizations on-premise often do not have enough licenses, they can easily have too many in the cloud. Poor management of employees leaving the company, for example, is part of this. Additional licenses are ordered for new employees, but when an employee leaves the organization, their account remains active and the license is not assigned to someone else. This remains a continuing expense: in the case of an on-premise environment, you can look back 90 days and no longer have to license such accounts, but that is not the case in the cloud. In this case, the expenses continue. Organizations also often leave several licenses ‘on the shelf’, so that they can take quick action when new ones are needed (most often because the HR process is not in order). This is also a waste of money.

Challenge #3: Not Working in the Cloud

Cloud license models are often purchased but not used. The installation media used still have to be licensed with the old on-premise licenses and new client software has to be rolled out to be able to apply the new licenses. The organization is not yet ready, or company applications are not compatible with the new cloud software. The transition ends up somewhere on the roadmap and until you actually transition to using the new software, you will remain incompliant and essentially have nothing solved.

Challenge #4: Licensing is not Always User-based

Cloud licenses are generally user licenses, but that does not apply to certain software. For example, in the case of Advanced Threat Protection for e-mail, the number of licenses must be equal to the number of mailboxes you have. That usually amounts to more than the number of users, due to the additional shared resource mailboxes.

Challenge #5: Insufficient Knowledge of Licensing in Azure

If you take your own licenses to Azure and your organization has an on-premise sub-license, you will take that problem to the cloud as well. Azure does not check that; you will have to do your own license management in Azure as well. Plus: did you know that in Azure, the licenses that are brought in always have to be purchased with maintenance (SA)? And that licenses for some products (desktop applications) cannot even be brought into Azure (or any shared hardware environment)?

Challenge #6: Project Servers are not Switched off

Not every organization switches off the Azure virtual machines (VMs) that are used for a project after the project is completed. That can be a challenge on-premise, but in the cloud, the user costs continue. Better management, proper knowledge of your own environment and correctly structured SAM processes are important here as well. Tooling can provide support in that area.

Challenge #7: Hybrid Environments make Overview Difficult

In hybrid environments, it can be extra difficult to get an overview of what is actually used and which licenses are needed. There is often confusion, e.g. on what products are licensed from the cloud and for which installations your own licenses are to be brought in. However, it is also not always clear which licenses you need to be able to use certain software both on-premise and in the cloud.

How to Deal with These challenges

Make sure Software Asset Management is sufficiently on the radar within your organization, including among management. Communicate what you do and what you achieve. Make sure that management is aware of the risks of incompliancy. It is not sufficient to focus on possible incompliancy once a year; SAM is and remains a constant process with added value for every organization.

Incompliancy cannot be solved in a day; that is why we try to make organizations aware of the challenges involved in the cloud and SAM.

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Chris van der Zwan

Chris van der Zwan

Western Europe Business Owner Microsoft Advisory Services



 +31 6 2385 6029


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