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The curse of being a SAM tools vendor

By Jelle Wijndelts | January 18, 2014

Recently I've spent some time with two of our larger UK customers, both with complex IT estates totalling more than 30,000 devices each. In both cases, the organizations had contracted external SAM teams to assist with the process of establishing a baseline and reconciling software usage against entitlement. But the SAM teams were experiencing a common problem – getting the senior managers at the customer organizations to trust the results being presented in the Snow SAM solution.

The SAM teams were having to fend off statements such as “I know I've got enough licenses, Snow must be wrong!” or “What do you mean we’re only showing ‘xx’ installations of product ‘y’, that’s rubbish!” And to some extent the senior managers were right. But not because the solution was wrong.

Instead it highlighted one of the fundamental challenges of any SAM program: it’s only ever fully successful when you’re dealing with (as near to as possible) 100% of the facts. As an experienced SAM professional, it didn't take me long to get to the root of some of the perceived issues. In one case, it quickly became apparent that the inventory agents on part of the estate were no longer able to communicate back to the Snow server because someone in the customer’s internal IT department had changed a firewall setting.

Of course, the external SAM team had not been made aware of this. I was able to show the SAM team how to spot the tell-tale signs of this happening again and what to do about it. We worked with the internal team, re-established the lines of communication and ‘found’ the ‘missing’ software. Case solved. In the second organization, it was a similar story.

The manager was right, they did have enough licenses to cover the reported shortfall. But those licenses had never been entered into Snow License Manager and so couldn't possibly be factored-in to the reconciliation (Snow License Manager is clever, but it’s not telepathic!). Within a few minutes, we’d entered the ‘missing’ licenses and suddenly the license position was looking a lot healthier. And therein lies the curse of being a SAM vendor.

We can (and I believe Snow does) build the very best technology available; but there is no magic ‘fix everything’ button. The SAM technology can only work with the data it has access to. And that’s why SAM will never be 100% about the technology. To be successful, SAM requires a careful blend of people, processes and technologies.

That’s why Snow invests heavily in both training and supporting its customers and partners. We believe strongly that skilled users are just as important to SAM success as having access to the best technology. After all, you wouldn't expect to able to fly a Jumbo jet without first gaining your pilot’s license, would you?

To that end, we offer a range of training courses and, on February 13th in London, we will be holding a new-format Snow User Forum designed to share information and advice with our customers.

For more information on these events, please take a look at our upcoming events!

Whatever SAM technology you use, next time you don’t believe the results, maybe your first question should be: am I working with all the right information? If you’re not, then identifying the fix should be quite straightforward. If you are, and the result is still wrong, well then you perhaps need to change your SAM technology!

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