As we near the end (already!) of the first quarter of 2019, I have found myself thinking about possible topics to cover in this blog installment. This got me reflecting on what trends and themes I have observed over the past year or so. I then concocted a list of what I consider the Top Four Topics in SAM for 2019.  Of course, I reserve the right to change this list completely next week!  After all, nothing stays the same from one week to the next in this dynamic industry; but what have I been hearing about, reading about and asked about lately?  These are the things I’ve identified for this week’s entry:

1. Cloud-/Subscription- Based Software Licensing

This one will come as no surprise.  For the past several years, the advent of the cloud-based software license has been a major theme in IT circles. We’ve gone from speculation about what the future cloud-based environment might look like – and how much of the workload would be transferred to cloud-based software – to the present time when a growing list of software titles is now available as a cloud model.  In fact, we’re starting to see examples where publishers are adopting a more Adobe-like stance in which they are planning to, or already have, moved away from physical installations, using instead an entirely cloud-based solution. 

In most cases, major publishers have yet to abandon traditional licensing entirely, but even these staid older players are at least offering some sort of cloud or subscription model.  While we’re still decidedly in the transitional phase, 2019 will continue to show us how this important topic is going to shape up.

 2. Java No Longer Free

To anyone in contact with the IT world, the topic of Java has been on the mind the past several months. I actually struggled with whether this should occupy the number one slot, since Java has been so deeply ingrained into nearly every aspect of our digital lives. In fact, Java may be the most prominent example of IT concepts that are so far-reaching that even the least tech-savvy end-user has become familiar with this thing called Java. 

In short, Java is everywhere. Its free license may be the reason it’s been so widely adopted. With Oracle suddenly changing the game, it will be a major story throughout 2019. How will organizations approach this? Will Oracle aggressively audit its Java customers? What strategies will Oracle and its customers adopt, and what ones will be most effective? How long will it take before this becomes “settled” in the industry, if it ever does?

3. Cloud-Based Servers

Like the cloud-/subscription-based topic around software, the long-predicted adoption of cloud-based server infrastructure has begun to pick up steam. The open question remains whether it’ll ultimately supplant the physical data center entirely, as many of its proponents have claimed along the way (I say it won’t); but regardless of its ultimate portion of the pie, there’s no question that more and more organizations are finding more business cases to justify its use. From a SAM perspective, there’s still a lot to learn about how licensing is handled for the many products hosted on these cloud-based servers. This is particularly interesting given the way in which many companies are spinning up cloud servers that may only exist very briefly – say as a load-balancing strategy – in some cases only existing for a few seconds! How will usage be tracked, and how will compliance be audited in these situations. Will customers rework their contracts with publishers to cater to these new realities?

4. Acquisitions and Divestitures of Software Titles Between Publishers

A significant divestiture of IBM products to HCL is expected to consummate in the coming weeks. There are a number of products wrapped up in this deal, with the notable inclusion of BigFix. Why is BigFix important? Because it is IBM’s discovery tool and is a contractual requirement for any IBM customers that wish to declare Sub Capacity licensing. With this sale, questions arise around how IBM can compel its customers to use a third-party tool, and the myriad licensing and confidentiality questions this elicits. 

But besides IBM, there are always a flurry of such divestitures and acquisitions between publishers. This is a special category of watch list items for SAM managers to keep on their radars in any year, and 2019 is no exception.

These are just four issues out of an endless supply of intrigue, worry, and fascination typical of any year in the ITAM business. In truth, this blog barely even scratches the surface – any one of these items could itself generate multiple blog entries themselves – but they may prompt some thought and/or discussion amongst you readers. I welcome your input and suggestions: have I missed any important topics? Are there other topics you think deserve Top Four billing? Should the order of topics be adjusted? Please provide your opinions in the comments section!