Cloud-based software asset management overview

Your Guide to Cloud Software Asset Management

Learn the SAM strategies for avoiding nasty licensing storms.

Software Asset Management: Your Compass in the Cloud

The cloud has changed everything. But does it promise new dangers or clearer skies for your bottom line and your Software Asset Management program?

Brighter horizons: The cloud is an easy and efficient solution for your software, platform, and infrastructure needs. And you don’t have to wait for central IT and procurement — with long approval and deployment processes — to access top-of-the-line solutions.

The cloud empowers your business units and employees to make IT decisions better and faster.

Rougher seas: But ease and flexibility come with a big price tag. Increased flexibility can cause costs to spiral quickly out of control when you consume more than you’ve budgeted for, or if you haven’t right-sized your environment. With cloud-based Software Asset Management, navigate your way past the dangers of high costs to the safe havens of increased revenue.

Fewer software license audits can still mean increased costs

Cloud providers know what you’re using. Because everything is hosted on their servers, they don’t need to do invasive and costly audits. The benefit is that your organization saves time and money in audit preparations and associated costs. But it’s not because cloud vendors want to be nice. Cloud providers no longer need to look into your environment to see how their software and servers are being used. Your servers are their servers, and they can see your consumption and configurations without leaving their office chairs. The cloud is also a steady source of revenue, so providers don’t need to do audits to generate more profit.

According to Gartner, between 2015 and 2020, “SaaS growth will be 19.3%, and can be expected to reach $76 billion by 2020.”

And that’s just for Software as a Service (SaaS). That’s serious money for cloud providers, and a significant spend for your organization. Protecting your investment means going back to the basics of software license management. Know what you have, how you’re using it, and how it’s configured.

Make your cloud migration quicker, easier and cost-effective

Migrating to the cloud may be one of the most important decisions your organization will face. The cloud licenses and infrastructure you purchase now will impact your future business success. See how to protect against unexpected cost surges using this foundational guide for your cloud migration.

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The cloud: A salad bar for your business

Think of the cloud like a salad bar. It offers an unparalleled variety of choices for your business. They’re flexible, easy to access, and demand fewer in-house resources. You don’t have to cook, clean, or plan a menu, and there’s something for everyone. It’s a delicious win for even the pickiest eater. Cloud services come in three main varieties: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Each service comes with its own licensing types, benefits and challenges. And then there’s the hybrid cloud, which combines the best of cloud and on-premises services. Let’s take a look at what’s being served.

4 “flavors” of cloud services

as a Service

SaaS is a browser-based application that you might use for normal daily work. You log into the vendor’s website and use software that is hosted remotely by that vendor.

Examples: WebEx, HubSpot, Salesforce, Google Apps, Aspera SmartTrack platform

Benefits: Low initial costs, continuous upgrades and support, easy customization.

as a Service

IaaS gives you a virtual server OS environment or raw computing capacities. You rent servers that are offsite, and monitor them with applications as if they were on-premises.

Examples: Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace Cloud

Benefits: Easily scalable, enhanced flexibility, better disaster recovery infrastructure.

as a Service

PaaS gives you an environment to run custom applications without you having to maintain the underlying platform.

Examples: Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud,, Google AppEngine, Kubernetes

Benefits: Enhanced agility, maximized uptime, easily scalable.


Hybrid cloud is a blend of SaaS usage and physical installation. Some hybrid products are subscription licenses, some are a cloud workspace.

Examples: Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud

Benefits: Can be used on-premises and on-the-go.

Case Study: Over $10.2 million in benefits from cloud management

Before implementing a new technology, you want to know if the investment is worth it. That’s why Aspera commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the ROI of Aspera LicenseControl for Cloud. See how this large global life sciences organization found benefits of over $10.2M using cloud spend management.

Read the Forrester Report


ITAM Review’s 2020
SaaS Management Market Report

Aspera rated Best for Discovery and Existing Customers

Aspera’s LicenseControl for Cloud was recognized for the breadth and depth of its inventory capabilities in the first-ever ITAM Review SaaS Management Market Report. Aspera is excited to be one of the leaders in the field included in this first of its kind market and tool analysis.

Read the ITAM Review

Expand your horizon with our cloud-specific blog posts

How to Choose an IaaS Cloud Provider

How to decide between service providers like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure to find the best solution to fit your needs.

Pick your provider

Azure Stack: When Cloud Lands On-Premises

  Get to know the reasons and cost benefits behind the new product release of Azure Stack.

Learn more

Save on your Microsoft 365 License Agreement

Learn 3 tips that can increase your cloud cost savings when negotiating your annual software licensing agreement with Microsoft.

Save now!

Paying for your plate of salad

Some salad bars are all-you-can eat, some charge by the plate or the weight, and some combine traditional restaurant menus and table service with the option of going to the salad bar for all those little extras. It’s all about what you — the customer — wants and needs.

Similarly, there’s a variety of ways to license your services in the cloud.

The four main licensing models are:

  • Subscription model – You pay monthly or yearly for access to a cloud service. You’re not tied to long-term and expensive contracts, and you can cancel at the end of a project or if you’re dissatisfied with the service.
  • Pay-as-you-go model – You pay for the use of a specific instance, such as CPU capacity, memory, or storage. You’re charged only for how much you use.
  • Pay-by-instance model – You pay for each server or server instance the vendor spins up for you. These Reserved Instances are contracted for specific periods of time (1 to 3 years), and they run 24/7.
  • Bring-your-own license (BYOL) – You can use cloud software for which you already have a “perpetual” license, a license that never ends. Keep the terms and conditions you know, so there are no hidden or accidental costs.

Let's look at when each model is best to use

License only what you can eat

All-you-can-eat salad bars have fixed prices. Other salad bars let you pay by the size of the plate or by its weight. In both cases, you need to watch how much you take. Too much, and you’ll waste money on uneaten food. Too little, and you’ll miss out on volume pricing. The same is true with cloud licensing. To get the best pricing on your services you should take only what you need. Otherwise, your cloud costs will encourage license waste and eventually drive down revenue. As always, your goals are  to get the licenses that meet your organization’s needs and help drive revenue but also to keep costs down.

Cloud licensing can get cloudy

To choose the right cloud licensing model, you have to know what you need in advance. This means gettingsolid data about your employees’ cloud usage and the company’s required server capacity or usage. Let’s look at two examples:

Pay-by-instance: A pay-by-instance model for IaaS is a smart choice if your usage demands it. If you need the servers to run constantly, then paying to keeping them on 24/7 makes sense.

However, if you’re not using the servers all the time, then why keep them running? In this case, pay-by-instance is the better choice. Instead of paying for continuous access to the salad bar, just turn on the restaurant lights when you’re really hungry.

Pay-as-you-go: The pay-as-you-go model provides flexible computing resources at any time, and it is especially useful if you’re covering workloads that will require ad-hoc capacity. But if your workloads are predictable and fixed, then a subscription model is more cost efficient.

Don’t fall for the cloud compliance myth

Is it true that there are no compliance risks in the cloud? Many people really believe this. After all, if your software, platforms, and infrastructure are all hosted by the vendor, then how could you possibly violate the terms and conditions?

But it’s just a myth!

In order to ensure continued flexibility, cloud service providers don’t always build in hard technical restrictions. This means that it can be just as easy to over-consume in the cloud as it is on-premises. Many other compliance risks, such as indirect access and unauthorized usage, are still risks in the cloud.

It’s just as important to know your licensing terms and conditions and to monitor usage in the cloud as it is on-premises. At the end of the year, your vendors will send you a bill for any usage not covered by your licenses. And because cloud vendors know exactly what you’re using and how, it can be harder to defend against non-compliance claims.

SAM Mythbusters: Debunking the Cloud Compliance Myth


7 To Dos for SAM in the Cloud

SAM is your best strategy for navigating the salad bar of cloud licensing choices. Follow these seven to-dos to decide which license model best fits your business needs.

1. Know how much cloud you use, so you can “right-size” your subscriptions

Knowing how much of the cloud you use can help you decide on the best cloud licenses. Usage is based on many metrics such as:

  • the number of per user licenses
  • disk space and storage space
  • the number of servers or instances
  • number of processes
  • size of database and number of database queries

Each of these usage metrics can be tracked with a SAM tool that gives you an accurate picture of current and projected needs.

2. Build a business case to identify the problems that cloud can solve

Start your cloud migration by identifying the problems that cloud services can solve. Do you need more ad-hoc computing power? If the answer is yes, then knowing how much and how often you need that power can help you decide between pay-as-you-go and pay-by-instance licenses. Or do you need software programs that can be installed on-premises but are also available on the go? Then a hybrid cloud option might be the best fit. Figuring out a business case for the cloud will help you analyze your current infrastructure, platform, and software concerns, and guide your organization in making the right license purchasing decisions.

Boldly go where no SAM Manager has gone before

The cloud is the newest frontier for SAM managers and means many changes for your SAM program. What are the new processes that SAM managers need in order to steer SaaS costs? How should they best handle them?

Download the SAM for SaaS white paper

3. Make your cloud move cost-effective by using what you already have

Whether you’ve already migrated or you’re thinking about it, your existing terms and conditions with a vendor might give you pricing advantages. Make sure you know exactly how to use your existing contracts to your advantage.

For example, Microsoft customers who have purchased three years of Software Assurance can move to the cloud at a lower price.

4. Decide the storage, servers, instances, and virtual machines with capacity management.

When you migrate to the cloud, make sure that you’re paying for only what you will need and use. The size and number of your servers, instances, and virtual machines will vary depending on your needs. For instance, consider whether you can redistribute your cores to fit in different sized and potentially cheaper instances. Don’t pay for 100% of a server if you’re only going to use 30% of it. Figure out in advance of your migration exactly how much server space you’ll need, and make sure to pay just for that.

5. Decide how often servers operate with more capacity management.

If your cloud servers and instances don’t need to be on during certain times of the day, then get a cloud license that will allow you to turn them off or spin them down. Shifting consumption to off-peak hours can save money in the long run. Capacity management can also result in refunds. For instance, Google Cloud Platform customers are entitled to a refund if their cloud resources are not available in accordance with their Service Level Agreements. Regularly reviewing your downtime logs can help to recoup costs for any violation of the SLA.

6. Avoid unnecessary purchasing by re-harvesting cloud licenses

When employees leave the company, or if they no longer need regular access to a cloud program, their existing licenses should be deactivated. This is software license re-harvesting. It prevents people from gaining access, returns usable licenses to the library, and makes them available for allocation to other employees. Instead of buying new licenses, you can better manage the ones you already have.

Many organizations encounter this licensing challenge with Salesforce license management. Employees change roles or jobs, but they continue to have an assigned Salesforce license. If someone else needs a license and there are none available, then new licenses need to be purchased. By using cloud cost optimization techniques like re-harvesting licenses, you will save money by eliminating unnecessary license spend.

7. Always know who is making purchase with a central license overview.

Maintain flexibility without losing financial oversight. A key factor in successful cloud cost management is having a central license overview to help track which business unit is using and purchasing licenses. Use that information to decide how to better budget for license purchasing, and to make sure licenses aren’t being wasted.

For example, Business Unit A has 15 unused Salesforce licenses, and Business Unit B needs 23. Unit B can take the 15 unused licenses from Unit A and only needs to purchase 8 more. Without a central license overview, the organization would have wasted resources on licenses it didn’t need.

Resources that help in any kind of weather

Stop SaaS from Eating-up your Software Budget

In this on-demand webinar, learn how SaaS licensing experts find huge cost saving opportunities in controlling enterprise-wide used cloud Apps.

Listen to the webinar

Salesforce & the SaaS Cost Explosion

This white paper will take a deep dive into cloud cost management based on real experiences with Salesforce and shows how you can control your SaaS spend.

Get the white paper

SAP License Management in the Cloud

SAP has a “cloud-first” range of solutions. Learn how to create a healthy SAP licensing landscape that analyzes and optimizes your licenses efficiently.

Read the blog post

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