Software Asset Management (SAM), is a necessary topic for most organizations to address (and embrace!). The term has a wide range of descriptions and interpretations. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library® (ITIL) describes SAM 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.”
That is obviously a widely encompassing description, but I would like to briefly address a crucial element which is necessary for an effective SAM initiative.
It’s hard to manage an organizations software without knowing what they have. I submit that a core element of effective SAM is to obtain an accurate inventory of deployed software, as well as to identify users and devices with access to that software. There are many variables to consider, and unfortunately, obtaining a complete and accurate inventory is rarely a simple process. There are countless tools which are designed to automate the process of identifying deployed software. Unfortunately, there is no single solution that ensures complete and accurate results, particularly in complex IT environments. Variables such as restricted access rights, system availability, BYOD, license reallocation, and legacy software, to name just a few, often prevent complete discovery and accuracy. Another consideration is that not all tools capture the same data. For example, some may identify the product and version, but not the edition (Enterprise, Professional, etc.).
At Emerset, we often employ multiple tools to determine the inventory of our clients. If we’re identifying Microsoft® products, for example, we like to use the Microsoft MAP tool. While this may not be a favorite tool for some, it was developed by Microsoft, which makes the results easier to defend. In many scenarios, we also use SCCM or other tools which may be deployed by the client. Once the systems are scanned, we employ proprietary tools to aggregate the data and eliminate duplicate information. The result is a view of deployed software which is often more comprehensive and accurate than when using a single tool.
Once we have identified deployed software, we compare that with the organizations license entitlements. The result is a clear picture of license utilization and compliance.
Whether you develop this discipline in-house or you hire independent third party expertise, it is a critical component of any Software Asset Management program.