The Rise, Fall, And Rise Of Software Asset Management: It’s More Than Just A “Good Thing To Do”

To describe software asset management as “red hot” right now might be an overstatement, but it is definitely at the top end of very warm. Three things have spurred me to write this quick blog:

  1. The growing number of Forrester client inquiries – unlike with IT service management (ITSM) where most relate to tool selection, these inquiries are very much about “getting started.”
  2. A recent webinar with CA Technologies where my somewhat “SAM 101” presentation seemed to be very well received: (registration required).
  3. Jon Hall, of BMC, published an IT asset management (ITAM)-related blog (Let’s work together to fix ITAM’s image problem) in which he shares not only his insights but also what I would call “BMC IP” – what Jon calls an asset management benchmarking worksheet.

The ITAM world needs more sharing of successes and good practice, whether it be sponsored webinars or “information gifts” such as the one from Jon. Dare I say it … the lack of publicly available good practice in the ITAM world shows what a great help ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework) has been to its world.

SAM: The State Of The Nation

I’m currently working on three SAM-related reports (one of which is very late, my apologies), including one with The ITAM Review … again a great source of shared, you could even say community-driven, information. So a few stats from the joint ITAM Review/Forrester SAM survey before the people that are far more creative than me turn these and others into sexy infographics:

Figures 1 and 2

Figure 3

A Very Quick Analysis

Figures 1 and 2: SAM is still an emerging discipline, but it is on the agendas of many organizations (I appreciate that the survey will have significant bias due to the fact that it is about SAM – if you were not interested, would you take the time to complete it?). It also makes me wonder if those organizations that have “done” SAM for over 10 years have great success stories to tell.

Figure 3: Just look at the main driver – cost reduction and licensing optimization, at 62%. How many think of this when they think of SAM? Not enough in my opinion – 10 years ago it was definitely about compliance, so it is good to see a maturation of thinking in this area. While compliance is still of great importance (well in fact a legal imperative and software vendor audits are increasing), SAM should also be a part of your IT organization’s and business’s efficiency activities. As I say in Figure 4, SAM is not an IT issue/opportunity; it’s a business issue/opportunity.

Figure 4


Finally, just to increase the chances of you looking at and benefitting from Jon’s “information gift,” here is a direct link.

As always, your thoughts and observations are appreciated.


Response to SAM's hotness

An enjoyable article, but I was saddened to see that in figure 3 (Primary SAM drivers) only 5% engaged with a SAM programme due to a "Corporate Mandate". IT exists to serve the business; if the business isn't informing IT of the direction to take, then SAM will always be firmly rooted in an operational-only engagement, which will make SAM that much more of a challenge if it is only viewed as an IT exercise.

Corporate mandate?

I have been working on the survey this afternoon and one area that needed manual analysis was that of "biggest barrier to SAM"... as you can imagine it was "Buy-in" by a long way.

Comment on Article - The Rise, Fall, And Rise Of Software Asset

It would be interesting if the sector on cost reduction and license optimisation could be segregated. I believe that the cost reduction was aligned to the compliance aspects over many years and that optimisation is now the imperative driver. Real savings come from the negotiations of commercial and contractual terms with the vendors to ensure best pricing and maximisation of the usage of license rights. SAM can provide essential information to help such negotiations but only if the usage and entitlement data is properly gathered and managed. SAM also needs to be more aligned with the operational risks to heightened the risks that the business could face.

More reasons ...

I spent many years helping organisations implement software management not SAM per se but similar in a number of ways. The most common thing we found was that organisations significantly (often by an order of magnitude) underestimated the number of different applications and variants they had installed across their IT environment. At the time the impact was not so much on license compliance or optimisation as they were generally covered by ELAs; however, the operational impact was huge. Put simply the more complex the environment the more expensive it was to manage. Simplification and rationalisation reduced incidents, problems, changes, improved performance, and improved compatibility. Organisations always concentrate on delivery or installation of software – how many actively try to retire old software packages?