IT departments and mangers are concerned that not only do they have to ensure the greatest economy for the IT spend, they must guarantee compliance with vendor licences across the entire, companywide software estate. Recent “innovations” in software licensing and a rapidly evolving environment have meant confusion has reigned. Confusion is a vendor’s best friend – it allows them to exploit unprepared and under-licensed organisations, incurring huge financial penalties – leading to very contentious litigious claims. There has to be a better way.
Standard tools are deployed to discover a company’s user and licence needs, but these projects of discovery have little contemporary value when licence needs change on an almost hourly basis in large organisations. Users, usage, processes; all impossible to track in real-time and almost always resulting in a poor audit and an expensive result.
Recording changes as they occur is the only true way to stay ahead of licensing requirements so as not to fall foul of the derided vendor audit. Tracking changes becomes even harder if the people within an organisation only do so in preparation for an audit, forgetting to continue monitoring all year, forgoing year-round monitoring for firefighting the next audit.
Software asset management is a huge and complex problem and it gets more complicated every day – diverse geographies, conflicting agreements, M&A, mobile devices, upgrades, updates and add-ons all play their part in the complex environment of a large software estate. Couple these considerations with the many forms that licence agreements can manifest and you quickly see the complex nature of software licensing.
SAM providers knew that this complicated world could be tamed and a more equitable approach could be found. The SAM industry has responded intelligently to these issues and many others, moving away from the traditional models of automation.
The hybrid approach is seen by experts within the SAM world as the only logical way forward. Utilising vendor-neutral tools, automating processes and utilising experienced consultants who examine software estates from a human perspective provides the only safe way of truly discovering one’s licensing requirements now and being able to plan one’s requirements for the near and distant future. The methodology behind hybrid SAM allows for comprehensive discovery of a software estate, providing a complete overview of the licensing needs for compliance, budgeting, management and planning purposes.
Questions have been asked about the usefulness of SAM in the modern software landscape. What’s needed now is the flexibility to adjust quickly to changing requirements; virtualisation and SAAS are perfect examples of the challenges for SAM. Automated tools, although successful in the past, have never been able to find with 100% accuracy the complete licence needs and audit preparation requirements; traditional SAM providers, unbending to the changing requirements of clients, are struggling to keep up with contemporary needs.
We are far from the death of SAM, but we can envisage the death of many providers who seem unaware or unable to change to the new SAM environment. Software asset management is not about a one-off audit, it is about a thoroughly planned, strategically aligned management vision that operates throughout every month of the year, saving money, time and facing the dreaded software audit with not even a bead of sweat on the brow.