Software Asset Management: What is it all about?

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An understanding of the Software Audit Landscape by Jonathan McGall SAM Lead SoftwareONE Ireland.

Firstly let us seek to understand what is meant by a compliance audit, I personally define an audit as the following:
 
“A software licensing audit or software compliance audit is an investigation of the software installed on the computers in an organisation with the purpose of ensuring that it is all legal and authorised. It is an important sub-set of software asset management and component of corporate risk management. When a company is unaware of what software is installed and being used on its machines, it can result in multiple layers of exposure.”
 
A Gartner survey on Software Asset Management the beginning of 2012 reported that:
 
  • The percentage of clients who had been audited at least once in the last 12 months was 65%, up from 61% in 2010
  • The vendors conducting the most audits are: IBM, Adobe, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft.
 
So what are customers saying about going through an audit?
Below are some of the experiences and comments we have heard when we engage with customers after they have partaken in a vendor audit.
 
“My last audit led to a lengthy and confrontational discussion with the vendor due to the complexity and my misunderstanding around product use rights and license metrics.”
 
“Through no intention of my own I had deployed software incorrectly in my virtual environment which resulted in my company facing a hefty bill to the vendor”
 
“I had implemented what I believed to be a well-structured disaster recovery plan but I was unaware that due to its configuration I was liable for a sizeable licensing bill from the vendor”
 
What can a company do to minimise risk of exposure?
The answer is to gain control over your software assets by implementing a well-rounded Software Asset Management (SAM) strategy. This should encompass not only the procurement of software and its deployment but also its use in your business.
 
What is SAM?
SAM is defined as “…all of the infrastructure and processes necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the software assets…throughout all stages of their lifecycle.”
SAM is also about process and methodology, for example:

- Understanding your Licensing Entitlement

- Having a central repository of all Software Assets

- Reconciling installed inventory data on a regular basis

- Putting in place policies and procedures to control how software is purchased

- Controlling how software is deployed in your organisation, ensure only authorised staff have the ability to install software.

Be aware that an effective Software Asset Management strategy is not solved by simply procuring a SAM tool; yes certainly it is a crucial element of implanting a SAM strategy but it is not an outright remedy to managing the risk of not only non-compliance but of overspend on software.
  
What can overspend on software mean to a business?
Software is quickly becoming one of the most important assets to the corporations of today. Every day companies spend huge sums of money on software, and all too often do not take the time to manage these assets as efficiently as traditional, physical assets. Just like traditional assets, software has a lifecycle that includes procurement, deployment, transition, and retirement. Strong processes and procedures for Software Asset Management are necessary for any company that wishes to minimise risk, and maximise efficiency. Typically an IT department will spend circa 40% of their entire budget on software, with products sometimes costing thousands of Euros per license then it would be foolish to not manage those with the due care and attention as traditional business assets.
 
SAM can save me money!
Properly applying SAM can save any business money, to give examples of where properly applying SAM has saved money; a Scandinavian business with 700 employees saved over €320,000 on products from three software vendors, also a UK based business with 600 employees saved over £200,000 on one vendor alone. The question is not can I afford to properly implement Software Asset Management in my business but can I afford not to.
 
How can I find out more?
SoftwareONE is a vendor recognised Software Asset Management (SAM) Partner for Microsoft, Adobe (SAM Alliance Partner), Oracle (JPE Partner), Symantec (First Global SAM Partner), IBM and Redhat with a global team of some 100 SAM certified professionals spanning 82 countries. SoftwareONE SAM consultants deliver services that are tailored to customer specific requirements ranging from basic compliance to assessment and implementation of internal SAM processes.
 
SoftwareONE’s focus is on software licensing, both from a desktop and datacentre perspective, and also in the provision of SAM services which means our knowledge is unmatched in the industry.
 
While software licensing plays a vital role, we know the world of IT doesn’t begin or end with licensing. Companies need software, hardware and services to meet their complete technology needs and working with partners, we are able to align with the top IT service providers to bring our customers comprehensive solutions and value across the entire technology spectrum.
 
For further information contact Jonathan McGall: Jonathan.mcgall@softwareone.com