SAM and the SaaS New Frontier: Processes for Building the Future

In just 20 short years, Software Asset Management has changed dramatically. What began as a discovery and inventory process to prepare for Year 2000 compliance, has transformed into a full-fledged business strategy, encompassing nearly every business unit. SAM ensures license compliance, lowers costs and overhead, helps manage personnel, and provides increased data privacy protections. In short, SAM is an institution.

But where does that leave us going forward into the next 20 years? As the IT universe continues to outpace even the boldest predictions, the institution of SAM needs to expand and shift focus as well. The cloud is driving much of this change, but so are other concerns such as employee turnover and data privacy. To handle such a complex set of objectives, SAM must be more than just tools and automation. It has to develop a sustainable set of practices and processes that can adapt to the everchanging concerns of the IT landscape.

To this end, SAM combines its tools and technology with processes:

  • Joiners, Movers, Leavers – to align the HR management lifecycle with the SAM management lifecycle
  • Scope Verification – to continuously manage the effective reach of ITAM
  • Software Reharvesting – to reduce shelfware and maintain active control over license allocation and use
  • Named User Verification – to ensure named user licenses are still with current employees
  • Software Support & Maintenance Review – to analyse and contain costs for support and maintenance contracts

SAM in the cloud faces two equally daunting data challenges:
1) user utilisation of SaaS services, and 2) cloud-based “instances” consuming monthly subscriptions or Bring Your Own Licenses. The only way to meet them is with the best tools and well-honed processes.

GARTNER: 35% of IT spend is Cloud / Subscription currently and raising

From Y2K to the Cloud: A short SAM timeline

Software Asset Management (SAM) started properly at the turn of the century. How old do you feel when you read that? Hardware Asset Management (HAM) / SAM probably has its roots around 1997 / 1998 when Year 2000 Compliance was at its fore. Very few people had heard of software licensing and compliance, never mind actually doing anything about it. As the role developed over the years, SAM functions achieved some significant milestones including:

As SAM evolved, it didn’t lose any of its earlier focuses, just added new ones. For instance, even in the cloud, discovery is still an important piece of the puzzle, and compliance, though less important in the cloud as it is on-premises, still plays a role in the complete SAM picture.

There are other milestones, of course, but we feel that these were the most significant evolutions in the SAM space over the last 20 years. What will the traditional SAM Manager’s role look like over the next few years and beyond?

The cloud will obviously play a huge role in shaping the future of SAM; in fact, it already has. Before we move into what SAM might look like in the future, let’s take a look at how the cloud is reshaping SAM now.

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