This summer, I was lucky enough to speak about software asset management (SAM) at the IBSMA SAMSUMMIT conference in Chicago. It was a great event, but one thing that struck me as quite odd was the general feeling that the primary driver for SAM is software licensing compliance -- that somehow, adherence to licensing terms and conditions was the guiding light for instituting a SAM program in the first place.
SAM is the right blend of people, systems, and processes required to manage your software and software-related assets through each and every stage of their lifecycle, so it is certainly a key part your software licensing compliance efforts. Yet, while compliance is a laudable goal, it’s not what pays the bills... and it’s certainly not what is going to get the CFO excited.
What will get a CFO excited is saving money. If your SAM program is not, at the very least, covering its expenses in license utilization, then perhaps it’s time for you to check the job sites for vacancies nearby -- but SAM can do more for your finances than merely pay its own way.
A good SAM program ensures that a company knows how many licenses it has at its disposal, so that it doesn’t waste more money buying unnecessary software. SAM can also see when any software hasn’t been used after a set period of time and see that it is removed and recycled for potential future use. Such software can go back in a license pool and save a company having to purchase new software.
It also ensures that the right versions and editions are being correctly used in your company. Just because your company car has four wheels and an engine, doesn’t mean it’s the right choice of vehicle for off-roading or NASCAR -- the same can be said for software.
Software asset management helps you make sure that support and maintenance is only paid on those titles that actually require support and maintenance. Software vendors can augment their bottom line by 20 percent or more merely by having technical staff at the end of a phone “just in case.”
SAM also provides the extra muscle you might need to detach yourself from the legacy software that’s holding back your company. If you’ve let yourself get too comfortable with software titles that are no longer supported, then you may be bowing to unnecessary financial challenges merely because the prospect of change is thought to be too great. SAM makes it easier to see the true risks of being so averse to change.
Finally, SAM can help you make certain that the architecture meets with the terms and conditions of the software. I mention this because organizations up and down the land seem to have rather naively wandered into the assumption that since a software license gives them the right to access the executable, and that it also gives them the right to install the software in a virtual environment -- but it most definitely does not. Installing the software in a virtual environment is a privilege, and one the software vendors typically expect payment in kind for.
It’s also worth expanding on IT architecture a bit. For those not in the know, various IT scenarios can be implemented to ensure continuity of service in temporary business blackouts or even disaster recovery scenarios. Such back-up and disaster recovery solutions are not by default covered by an existing production license -- each title has its own unique kinks that must be addressed prior to the prospect of any impending software vendor audit.
To say “it’s all about the money” is an over-simplification, but it is an argument that should not be lost when seeking to justify a SAM program. Are you using SAM in your organization yet? Have you seen the cost-saving benefits I've mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.