The field of Software Asset Management (SAM) appears to be growing in terms of adoption and people and vendors joining the space. I joined this industry about 15 years ago, and from my perspective, SAM is experiencing a growth spurt at this time. The increased volume of activity in this field has caused me to ponder who actually drives and influences the SAM industry.

It actually begins with revolutions in technology by providers such as the OEMs. For example, the introduction of virtualization technology - the ability to create a virtual machine that acts like a real computer with an operating system - influenced the software publishers to change some of their licensing models and metrics. In another example, the introduction of cloud technology has influenced software publishers to offer subscription-based licensing. These revolutions in technology have forced the publishers to change how their software is licensed.

The technology and licensing changes significantly impact the end-user, who now has to understand new licensing metrics in order to ensure compliance with its software supplier agreements. These licensing metrics can be complex and difficult to understand, which may cause the end-user organization to spiral out of compliance unknowingly. The software supplier senses this confusion and audits their customers to resolve any compliance issues. 

Meanwhile the SAM vendors, tools and services providers, observe the needs in the market place to help the end-user community get a handle on their sprawling hardware and software estates. The tools providers develop solutions to discover, normalize and optimize software licensing. The services providers offer licensing and contract experts to help the end-user community be more successful with ongoing audits and contract renewals. They also offer Managed Services, to track and manage the software licensing per publisher agreement, providing experts who can take on the burden of this activity.

Industry analysts and influencers, such as Gartner, study the changes and trends in IT and Software Asset Management through their numerous interactions with technology providers, SAM vendors and the end-user community. Industry analysts use this data to state the current situation and predict future trends through their exposure to the SAM industry.

I view the shapers of the SAM industry within a circle…one circle influences another. While the Analysts reside outside the larger circle, they can still have an influence on the decisions of the groups within the inner circles.

While this may seem like a vicious cycle, the good news is that the SAM industry is dynamic, changing and growing, which makes it an exciting place to be.

What are your thoughts on who is driving and influencing the SAM industry?