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5 Industry Trends That Increase Software Asset Management Complexity

Thought-Leadership by Skip Richards
on June 11, 2015

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As if Software Asset Management (SAM) isn’t complex enough, the IT industry is undergoing a significant revolution. Granted, this revolution makes life easier for end users, but as IT Managers, our lives are only getting more complex as we strive to adapt to this ever-changing landscape.

Below are 5 trends affecting the SAM industry:

Audit Trends – Publishers Increasing Use of Audits to Drive Revenue Targets

The most notable SAM trend would be the increased rate of publisher audits. We’ve written many times on various tactics you can use to prepare yourself for the inevitable audit, but understand that publishers use the audit as a means to retain their revenue streams.

However, conducting an audit for auditing’s sake presents a “Catch-22”: With the increased focus on audits to drive revenue, publishers are not focusing on selling new product to new customers, thus decreasing their pool of customers to audit. Publishers also tend to audit customers more than once, as suggested by a 2007 Gartner survey. In my experience, organizations that get audited by the same publisher multiple times learn to respond to audits much more effectively, which significantly reduces their revenue from these audits.

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Technology Trends – Virtualization Adds New Levels of License Complexity

Customers discovered that running discrete, stand-alone servers and data centers across the world is less economically feasible than going to servers that can be carved up into smaller virtual servers. In other words, Virtualization is driving the need for unique SAM skills.

It’s hard enough to track a license when you have a box you can touch and feel, sign into, and locate the software, but now that those boxes are no longer a physical box and are part of a very large mainframe-like computer running lots of other VMs, it’s much harder to track the license accurately and track those changes going on as that server farm grows.

Take the below graphic, for example:

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Virtualization is driving in complexity and licensing metrics because virtualization is what you need to deliver cloud. Forward-thinking cloud software providers “rent” software to organizations via a Monthly License Charge (MLC). This is software you do not buy, you merely pay a monthly charge. Cloud providers enjoy this because they can avoid a massive upfront system investment, and not have to rely on their salespeople to overcompensate for this massive upfront investment.

Industry Trends – Globalization Driving New Sourcing Models

Companies are finding that because they’re globalized and they have tax benefits for buying software in specific countries, then moving that software to where they really need it creates a level of procurement complexity that also adds to the SAM challenge. They buy it in one country, use the software in another, then are surprised when the publisher demands they have maintenance/support in the country they bought it from.

Simply put, organizations see they can purchase the same piece of software for a far less price and greater tax cut in one country, but they’re not thinking about the maintenance/support implications for those applications.

Software Trends – Cloud & BYOD

We all know about Cloud and bring your own device (BYOD). It’s more of an industry trend as opposed to software itself. Cloud/BYOD is moving towards a consumption model, which does away with the old days where customers typically bought large quantities of software and had to plan huge capital expenditure to account for the volume licenses and expected discounts for their purchases. Now, they’re purchasing per device, per user, or per month. This presents several challenges to a traditional IT manager:

  • They’re no longer paying for software, they’re paying for a service.
  • The same applications that reside on your desktop can also be found in your pocket.
  • The line between “corporate owned assets” and “personal assets” is becoming blurred.
  • Do I track the software, or does my service provider track it?

Certain cloud providers will provide a suite of software while you bring complementary software of your own, which creates a mix of software assets. The infrastructure suite, OS, database engine, and web server engine are all provided by the cloud provider, but certain tools and application design suites, etc., may require a third party.

Tools Trends – Tools Providers Offering Rich Integrated Tools Suites

On the bright side, SAM tool vendors are becoming more refined, with rich and integrated functionality on their SAM tools. Gone are the days when you had to build your spreadsheet to track your entitlement and run publisher specific applications to gather inventory data and then do the mashup/correlation of that data manually. Now there are whole suites of tools that will store that data and do those comparisons for you.

And they’re smart enough to know the bigger publishers licensing metrics. They can determine whether a discovery is a processor or user based license and compare it using the right metrics. I definitely recommend for organizations to move to these integrated tool suites to help them refine their analysis.

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Related blog posts:

Topics: Core Infrastructure, Cloud and BYOD

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