As 2018 rolls swiftly to its end (holy moly!), I can’t help looking back at the past year and thinking about the themes and concepts that stood out. While it’s been another year of many of the same dilemmas we faced in the past, there were a few things that struck me as highlights. Here are a few items I came up with.

The SAM Discipline is Maturing and Gaining Appreciation

There’s still work to be done, but compared to early days, the SAM function has gained greater awareness throughout the business community. Thanks to the prevalence of audits and penalties in the news and “at home”, many more companies have come to understand what successful SAM means to their bottom line. Whereas in the past, a SAM manager might almost stumble into the role from another function, today the discipline has grown better defined as the day-to-day tasks of SAM practitioners have become recognized.

The number of professionals who have navigated the rapids of the SAM stream is growing steadily. It is more likely today to encounter specialists who carry SAM-specific certifications, have publisher and licensing familiarity, and may have several years’ experience in the field.

This isn’t to say that SAM expertise is easy to find, as I’m sure many of you have discovered when trying to fill a seat on your bench. Though SAM is evolving and is gaining awareness across firms, it is still a relatively focused profession for which it remains challenging to source candidates. However, as the future unfolds, it may become a little less frustrating to find qualified individuals.

Open Source Products – Some Free Lunches Are Over! Will Others Follow?

We’ve seen movement in the Open Source realm in the past year. Two instances from the news come to mind: Oracle has announced it will begin charging for Java in the coming year, ending two decades of prior practice; and IBM, for its part, announced the acquisition of Red Hat. Although IBM has not publicized plans to start charging for licenses that were previously free, it bears watching to observe whether IBM (or other publishers) plan to charge the embedded customer base for these types of products. If so, what form will that take, and what alternatives may surface in the marketplace for those seeking relief?

The Software Landscape is Always Changing – Often Affecting SAM

Besides the aforementioned changes to Open Source titles, publishers have continued to shuffle the IT deck with various divestitures and acquisitions. Some of these will be relevant to the SAM process. In particular, see my colleague Kevin Panteli’s article regarding IBM’s sale of BigFix (among other products). This recently-announced sale raises important questions about IBM’s ILMT (required for anyone wishing to declare Sub Capacity licensing) – what happens now that this becomes a 3rd party application? How will compliance be handled if there is a new contractual party added to the mix? (If you haven’t read Kevin’s article, it’s highly recommended reading:

In any given year, there are always transactions between publishers that merit careful attention and strategizing to prepare for the inevitable contractual vagaries. This big announcement from IBM, though, may be especially significant to the SAM community.

Cloud Adoption is Growing, But Solving its Exposures is Still a Work in Progress

One of the top discussions in the IT field these past few years has been the increasing adoption of the Cloud. Its growing popularity cannot be denied, and arises from a number of angles – ease of administration, cost benefits, reduced lead time for new environments, seemingly infinite scalability.

But the Cloud brings myriad challenges for which solutions are still being sought. Many articles have been written, including here in the Siwel Blog space, posing the questions of 1) Who manages the licenses – you or your Cloud provider? 2) How does Cloud usage relate to existing licensing agreements like IBM’s Sub Capacity rights? 3) How does one determine the hardware configuration behind a Cloud server if it’s not provided by the Cloud provider?

There are other considerations that go broader than just licensing and compliance questions. These are subjects that involve the entire organization from a security, cost, redundancy, and governance standpoint. The rise of “Shadow IT” – wherein lines of business create their own software solutions, bypassing the usual IT provisioning procedures – presents a growing and daunting challenge. Cloud solutions availability makes this temptation all too alluring. Its trajectory as an issue facing IT organizations generically, and SAM departments specifically, is a definite issue worth watching in 2019 and beyond.

Those are just a few things that occurred to me as my blog deadline neared. No doubt, once I submit this article, a dozen more will pop into my head. Did I miss anything that you would have included? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, Happy Holidays to all, and have a healthy New Year!