The Ultimate SAM Jargon Buster

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by | February 3, 2015

The SAM world can be a confusing one. With a long list of acronyms, the uninitiated can quickly get lost in a jumble of SKUs and PURs. Fear not! This Jargon Buster is here to guide you through the most common software asset management acronyms and penetrate the SAM lexicon.

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

Users choose to bring mobile devices from home for use in work, but not necessarily at the workplace/office. Many licensing issues arise from personal devices depending on many variables, but solutions are being developed and this is proving to be less of the minefield it used to.

CAL – Client Access License

A CAL is a user- or device-based licence from Microsoft to access vital systems (e.g. Exchange servers) by either a user or device.

COA – Certificate of Authority

This is the industry norm of demonstrating that a piece of software is properly licensed. It’s usually in the form of a sticker attached to hardware or software packaging.

EA – Enterprise Agreement

A company-wide bulk licensing agreement applicable to the entire software estate for fixed periods (usually longer than 12 months).

EULA – End User License Agreement

This agreement stipulates the rights and obligations of the user and vendor towards each other. It’s the agreement one sees before starting to use a piece of software for the first time – and the one that most people ignore.

FPP – Fully Packaged Product

COTS (commercial, off-the-shelf – ready-made, shrink-wrapped, white-labelled software, i.e. software purchased how one might purchase Microsoft Office for the home, is commonly bought in small businesses, but when purchased within a large organisation, the licence can be troublesome to track. The COA is vital to keep and record to prevent any future issues.

MSDN – Microsoft Subscription Developer Network

Certain developers are permitted to test certain Microsoft products at no cost (i.e. outside of licence requirements). These developers and the software they use must be monitored closely to ensure their use is not counted in current licensing requirements.

MVL- Microsoft Volume Licensing

A clever programme to provide cheaper Microsoft products – but attached to sticky clauses that make it tough for organisations to change vendor, should they wish.

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacture

This is software that is installed onto hardware at manufacture. The best example is an operating system. The licence of the software is attached to the hardware and expires with it.

POL – Proof of License

POL asserts licence ownership and is vital for compliant licensing. Without the POL, a licence is invalid.

PUR – Product Use Rights

The specifics of how software is to be used – a guide or ‘Bible’ issued by the vendor.

SA – Software Assurance

A separate Microsoft agreement (distinct from licensing) for the maintenance and upgrade of software.


Software licence management/software licence optimisation – the undertaking of rationalising users and licences to ensure perpetual compliance.

SKU – Stock Keeping Unit

As different usage licences can be granted for the same piece of software, the SKU highlights the rights usage associated with a licence, permitting continuous compliance.

VDI / VDA – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure / Virtual Desktop Access

VDI is the hosting of a centralised operating system and associated applications (virtualisation). VDA is the licensing that permits users access to the VDI.


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