At the end of 2012, Forrester and the ITAM Review, an IT asset management community site, ran a software asset management (SAM) survey to help understand where SAM is going in 2013. The resulting infographic* and commentary is available to Forrester clients here. For non- (hopefully future-) clients I’ve extracted some content to create this blog.

The focus and drivers for SAM have changed

Since the early 2000s, risk-focused IT professionals have voiced their concern over software compliance and the potential for vendor audits, large financial fines, damage to corporate reputation, and even the imprisonment of company directors. But these concerns weren't necessarily shared by the rest of the organization, which also viewed the SAM technology available as too difficult and complex to justify. As a result, SAM was a low priority on the IT management to-do list.

But this is starting to change as IT organizations realize that their software estates and procurement and provisioning processes are in a state of under-management, if not mismanagement. As a result, these organizations are wasting a significant amount of their IT funding each year on license procurement when they don't need to, maintenance agreement costs for more licenses than they actually use, and supporting and hosting software that should have been decommissioned.

Three of the 19 infographic elements:

If you are starting out with SAM, or looking to improve existing capabilities, Forrester recommends the following …

Plan for success: ensure you address the 6 key SAM initiative challenges

While the drivers for SAM are clear — better risk and cost management — the issues or challenges associated with commencing SAM initiatives aren't always as apparent. With 39% of organizations having implemented SAM and another 52% currently implementing or planning to within 12 months, now is the time to overcome known challenges. To succeed, Forrester recommends that infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders:

  1. Connect SAM to business goals to justify investment. Tie your SAM vision into business goals to show how SAM will positively affect the business through lower cost and risk, not counting software installs.
  2. Source fit-for-purpose people.  SAM cannot be done by a part-time employee with other operational responsibilities — at best you will end up with a suboptimal SAM program; at worst you will have an expensive SAM tool full of data that is rarely used. For many organizations, outsourcing SAM operations to benefit from third-party people availability, skills, and experience is an increasingly viable option.
  3. Remain focused during SAM tool selection. As with most software solutions, one size does not fit all — so focus on what you actually need and avoid being enticed by cool capabilities that you may never use. Realize that compliance will only get more difficult with virtualization and cloud. Virtualization brought with it the dual issues of increasingly complex licensing and entitlement models, as well as increased difficulty in understanding what software is being used where. Cloud now adds an extra degree of complexity. To date, SAM programs are not keeping pace with technology change.
  4. Go beyond compliance to save costs. Beyond achieving compliance, processes and enabling tools must also provide capabilities to optimize licensing and manage application usage, software management (including automated provisioning and software metering), and robust reporting and audit facilities to make software-related decisions.
  5. React to the changing business landscape. The unsanctioned use of personal devices in the workplace — from laptops and ultrabooks to Macs, tablets, and smartphones — and the rise of corporate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) schemes bring their own software risks.
  6. Avoid the temptation to spread available resources too thinly. Trying to accomplish too much too early or everything at once can be fatal. Start small and focus on specific areas, such as the workforce computing estate and mobile devices, or data center assets and virtualized environments. Alternatively, focus on specific software vendors based on known compliance issues or the vendor's propensity to audit its customers.

Final words …

Well that’s enough Edward Scissorhands from me. Hopefully chopping the report down to 700-ish words has worked. Many more of the SAM Survey infographic charts are available via a webinar with BMC:

Also look out for the Forrester crowd-sourced ITAM Best Practice Report for much more advice on starting or improving an ITAM or SAM program.

As always your opinions and comments are appreciated.


* Please note that Figure 2-1 in the full report is awaiting a clarity-based edit. The ITAM Review may be waiting for the refreshed version before distributing to survey participants.

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