According to a leading industry analyst, an estimated 66% of enterprises get audited by a software publisher at least once a year. Not having a SAM program poses a big financial risk to any organization. The first step to establishing a successful SAM program is selecting a tool. Keep in mind that when it comes to selecting a SAM tool for your organization there is no such thing as a simple solution or a magical tool that can fix all of your SAM problems. Therefore, I’ve summarized a few things to keep in mind when selecting a tool.

Here is a quick guide for things to consider when selecting the “right” SAM tool for your organization. 

Compatibility With Your Current Environment

Does the vendor's solution allow third party applications to be easily integrated? This is very important because you want your systems to be compatible and manageable to avoid additional costs. I recommend using a system’s out of the box function as often as possible. If you need to over-customize for compatibility this might not be the tool for you. Customization can impact upgrades and can be very costly.

Systems to consider within the SAM process include:

  • Finance Systems (PeopleSoft)
  • Inventory Tools (SCCM, ILMT)
  • IT Service Management System (ServiceNow, IVANTI)
  • Procurement Systems (PeopleSoft)
  • HR System (ADP)
  • Business Management Systems (Apptio)

Software Asset Management Function

Another very important factor. You want to make sure that the system you select has the ability to Discover, Measure and Report on your current software assets. It is very important to make sure that the tools you are looking at have up to date recognition function for all of the publishers in scope.

Ensure you create a list of all publishers in scope and create questions specific to your needs.

Separate your requirements into desktop software, server software, cloud application management and SaaS. You want to make sure you fully understand all capabilities by publisher.

A few questions to ask include:

  • Is there an out-of-the-box software dictionary or software recognition library?
  • Does the tool provide an inventory solution?
  • Does the system normalize purchase data?
  • Describe support for the following desktop license metrics:
    • Concurrent
    • Device
    • Node locked
    • User
    • Named User
    • MSDN
  • Describe support for the following Server license metrics:
    • Processor
    • Core
    • Concurrent
    • Oracle Named User Plus
    • Oracle Processor
    • IBM PVU, RVU and UVU
    • IBM Concurrent
    • IBM Authorized User
    • Microsoft Server Core
    • Microsoft Server Processor
    • Tiered Device
  • Describe how Microsoft SQL Server licenses are managed.
  • How is the SQL Server edition identified?
  • What server virtualization technologies are supported (e.g. VMware vSphere/ESX, MS Hyper-V)?
  • What reports are provided out of the box?

SAM Optimization

Once you have established your baseline Software License Position, the tool you select should give you the ability to further develop your program. Remember, Software Asset Management is not just audit defense. There are a number of different functions that play into establishing a mature program. By implementing these SAM functions you can significantly reduce IT spend.

These functions include:

  • Reclamation: allows IT to reclaim unused licenses from the user community.
  • License monitoring: tracks the quantity of licenses owned, compares it with what is installed and takes action when the count of available licenses drops below a defined threshold.
  • Software Deployment catalog: deploy previously packaged applications to the user community.
The questions you should ask include:
  • Does the solution provide a way to interact and/or alert users in specific situations? For example, prompt for uninstall of apps not used for a defined timeframe; or prompt for proof of purchase of unlicensed software.
  • Can your solution automatically deploy a mobile version of a desktop application?
  • Does the solution provide "out of the box" integration with major deployment technologies such as Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)?

Training and Self-Management 

Finally, ask yourself the question: can you manage the system and train the internal team to keep the SAM tool healthy? Or do you need to invest in a managed service to maintain the SAM program and manage your tool? Managed services can be costly to an organization and not always the right choice. In my experience, I have witnessed a “best in show” SAM tool retired because it was not properly implemented and maintained. Therefore, keep in mind all associated costs surrounding the system you choose.

Conclusion

My grandmother always said, “there is a more than one way to bake a cake, but you can’t make a cake without eggs.” Comparable to a cake, a SAM tool needs the right components to be successfully implemented. Utilizing these simple planning tips you can make a SAM tool selection an easier process.