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Software Asset Management and the Internet of Things

By Jelle Wijndelts | March 28, 2014

Dating as far back as 1991, the term ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) is actually not all that new.

Whatis at techtarget.com describes it as: “…a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.”

Equipping everyday objects with technology that enables them to communicate with the internet: for example fridges that detect and place your next grocery order, or cars that book themselves in for a service, is nothing new. But what was once restricted to “Tomorrow’s World” type futuristic television shows is now rapidly becoming a reality.

Technology advances over the last few years means that the number of potentially-connectable ‘things’ are exploding at a huge rate. According to research by ABI research, by 2020 there will be 30 billion devices with wireless internet connectivity. Some people even say this number is conservative. Cisco, for example, predicts this number to be more like 50 billion.

So why would we care? The internet connectivity of all these devices not only opens up new possibilities in terms of turning on the home heating from the airport or train station, it also exponentially increases the number of potential ‘users’ (in licensing terms) that are suddenly making use of the software that makes these transactions possible.

Software licensing You can almost see the likes of Oracle, SAP, IBM and other enterprise software publishers rubbing their hands together at the prospect of the Internet of Things. 

Their systems already power some of the most inter-connected IT systems spanning the globe. The IoT increases the size of their potential market hugely. And that’s a risk for organizations that both use enterprise software and want to take a slice of the IoT. If you’re that heating manufacturer that wants to provide customers with remote control of their home heating, what’s the licensing model going to be for the applications, databases and middleware that make that possible? 

The same question applies to the car manufacturer whose vehicles can automatically notify the nearest dealer that they need a service. If you thought that software licensing models were already complex (and they are!), the Internet of Things is only going to add to your worries. And the stakes will be high, because there will be a LOT of money at stake.

All of which means that, while Software Asset Management (SAM) as we know it today is going to evolve, the requirement to capture, track and reconcile the consumption of software licenses is going to be just as important in the future as it is now. The IoT is going to make the technological challenge of SAM even greater than today; and it’s a challenge no organization will be able to ignore. 

Mobile devices, remote users, transient connections and one-time transactions – you’re going to have to be able to track and license them all!

Prepare today If that all sounds a little far-off, perhaps some of it still is. But many of these requirements already exist today. If your organization is invested in Oracle or SAP, for example, you already need to factor-in ways of using databases and applications from outside the organization (sometimes referred to as Indirect Usage). 

It’s an easy way for many organizations to get caught out on software licensing. The Internet of Things could be seen as a giant explosion in the proliferation of Indirect Usage, and you’re going to need to be licensed for it. 

Now you can see why some software publishers are getting so excited… If you’re not in charge of your Software Asset Management today, how will you be ready for the licensing challenges of tomorrow?

To learn more about how Snow can help, speak to one of our SAM experts today.

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