ITAM Then and Now: A Look Back Over 13 Years

I've worked at Siwel for over 13 years now and all of it has been focused on ITAM in some shape or form. I caught up with one of my colleagues (DD!) recently and we reminisced about some of the fun we had in the “good old days” when IT Asset Management was like the “Wild West” – lots of people working independently, trying to survive with limited resources, few with any official legal (ITAM) processes, dealing with a harsh SUN environment and in some cases also with Apache (server) problems…So has anything changed in the 13 years spanning 2004 to 2017? Perhaps not as much as we would have hoped, but there are definitely signs of civilization! 

Let’s look at some common elements of our ITAM industry and compare them – then and now:

Mostly single processor (Intel) machines in the data center. Over the years we have moved through multiple processors, multiple cores and even to multiple threads now.


Virtualization was still new, with limited utilization in the data center and effectively non-existent on desktop. Corporations that have achieved 90% or even 95% virtualization of their data centers is not uncommon. A larger number of corporations now utilize virtual desktops for users as well.


Media Management

Most software had moved from floppy disks to CDs. Multiple CDs were required for large server products and bundles. While it is still possible to buy some software on DVD, the majority of business software is digital and downloaded online.
Most common data center licensing was by server, as many Intel machines still had just a single processor. As hardware performance increased, new ways of calculating licensing were introduced that reflected that – including per core, core factor and Processor Value Units amongst other “capacity-based” models.


A big focus on pricing and “set in stone” software product catalogs with limited opportunity to change. While pricing will always be a factor, more emphasis is made on audit/true-up terms and product catalogs are often flexible or even unlimited.


Purchases were primarily made for fixed quantities of perpetual licenses in both desktop and data center environments. On the desktop in particular, a growing move to subscription licensing with Software as a Service (SaaS). As more data center environments move to the cloud, a greater emphasis on capacity or utilization based licensing.
Very limited from an automated tool perspective – limited hardware criteria needed. Most SAM tracking done by counting physical machines and reporting using Excel. Agent and agentless discovery is commonplace, in addition to custom scripts. Hardware processor model and speed often required as a minimum. Data collected is often parsed through reference libraries to standardize on common names for publishers and products. Although Excel use is still common, many organizations have invested in an ITAM repository for managing license compliance and reporting.
Audits were rare – only as a last resort in the worst client/vendor conflicts. Usage and utilization was mostly trusted to the client to track and report. Audits now represent up to 30% of revenue for the large software publishers. Contracts contain specific clauses related to audit terms and obligations. Most clients can expect at least one major publisher audit annually.
Corporate Sponsorship and Recognition
For most organizations SAM and HAM were not recognized disciplines and were treated as additional tasks by other groups. From a corporate perspective, the common viewpoint was that these activities were a burden and an overhead. Many organizations have dedicated teams focused on primary ITAM activities. Executives have been educated on the value of a good ITAM program – both in terms of minimizing audit risk and investing to ensure the ROI through optimized software spend.
SAM Maturity
With few dedicated or coordinated resources ITAM program maturity was minimal if not completely non-existent. Recognition of the benefits from a more mature ITAM Program, such as cost avoidance and better license compliance, have encouraged organizations to improve their ITAM programs.


Things have come a long way in 13 years, haven’t they? Are there any other criteria you can think of that we could compare then and now?