Get To Know Steven Russman

I am a senior analyst in Forrester’s technology architecture and delivery service, offering guidance and direction to software asset, IT asset, and IT financial managers worldwide. I cover today’s trends and tools for software asset management (SAM), IT asset management (ITAM), and IT financial management (ITFM). SAM and ITAM are more than keeping track of your IT assets’ location and features. Software (and hardware, to a lesser degree) require periodic active maintenance and updates to keep it secure and to thwart hackers’ efforts to exploit vulnerabilities and breach your company’s secure network.

Software apps, whether installed in on-premises servers, running in a hybrid cloud, or delivered as a subscription service over the internet, represent a large portion of a business’s IT budget. SAM plays an important and growing role in providing inventory data to security pros on software vulnerabilities. ITAM reports on obsolete hardware ready for retirement and disposal. Also, SAM supports cloud cost management, lending valuable license management and compliance expertise to the cloud center of excellence, FinOps practices, and IT financial or technology business management teams.

I started my career in ITAM during the year-2000 transition. In the late 1990s, companies struggled to identify hardware and software that might fail due to the change from the 19XX to the 20XX date format. Companies clamored for tools for discovering and inventorying software, servers, network equipment, and mainframe computers, and so ITAM was born.

Businesses were busy setting up local networks, buying PCs and servers, and trying new kinds of software from Microsoft, Adobe, Lotus, and other PC software companies. Many of these companies grew into huge businesses and continue to thrive today. But there was a big problem that needed to be solved: Unauthorized software duplicating was rampant in the 1990s, and software companies forfeited billions in revenue as customers copied the software rather than buy an additional license. By 2003, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, and others were aggressively cracking down on illegal software copying and counterfeiting. The leading publishers of the day created the Business Software Alliance (BSA) to conduct audits and software raids. Those companies unlucky to have been caught by the software police were reported in the news, and BSA collected fines and penalties, embarrassing the wrongdoers. All of this was part of BSA’s tactics to increase awareness and change customer behavior.

Today’s software comes with anticopying deterrents, plus embedded license activation and control technologies that make copying difficult. Times and methods have changed, and looking back, a new compliance and software auditing industry emerged from this copyright crackdown. Despite changes in technology, business practices, and the many customer relationships soured by software publishers’ aggressive audit practices, audits continue to thrive and drive many companies’ software license management programs.

In 2000, I started IBSMA, a conference, training, and publications company focused on software license management. I knew we were on to something when Microsoft called and wanted to join. For much of the last 20-plus years, we produced events in the US and London, bringing together end users and professional practitioners as presenters for our focused education and networking events — then, in 2020, the pandemic changed the world, and I was ready for something new.

I’m thrilled to join Forrester and a dedicated team of intelligent, creative, and interesting peers. I look forward to covering SAM, ITAM, and ITFM and helping our clients navigate the changing landscape. These are big topics, and I’ll be working with Liz Herbert, Tracy Woo, Bill Martorelli, Alvin Nguyen, and many others. I have a lot of ground to cover and plan to begin work in 2023 on the first Forrester Wave™ evaluation covering SAM tools. Plus, I’ve got a list of topics, including SaaS subscription management tools, cloud cost management (as part of SAM), SAM service providers, discovery and inventory tools, software audits, FinOps, and updates on the big software vendor license management news. I intend my coverage to be timely and practical, something for our clients to apply right away.