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Is SAM Winning?

By Matt Fisher | May 26, 2016

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has today released the figures for its latest annual report on software piracy around the world. The watchdog believes that 39 percent of software used globally is pirated. It sounds a lot, but is in fact a reduction of four percent from the same report in 2013.

In the United States, the BSA reports a one percent drop from 2013 to 18 percent piracy in 2015. The United Kingdom is reported to have a software piracy rate of 22 percent in 2015, down from 24 percent two years earlier.

The BSA cites two key drivers for the reduction in global software piracy: the move to cloud-based subscription licensing and greater adoption of Software Asset Management programs and technologies.

Naturally, at Snow we’re very pleased to see the BSA acknowledging the adoption of SAM as a key force for good in the software world. We strongly believe that the vast majority of organizations have no desire to use software illegally and are making efforts to eradicate this from their networks.

However, on the subject of cloud and subscription licensing agreements, the story is less clear cut.

One the one hand, the BSA is right, moving software licensing to the cloud does make it more unlikely that organizations will find themselves using software illegally. In theory, it should be impossible to be non-compliant when the responsibility for access management lies with the software publisher rather than the end user organization.

But that’s not Software Asset Management. SAM is about more than compliance. It’s about optimization and risk management. What the BSA study does not cover is how many organizations that have turned to cloud and subscription licensing are now over-spending on those entitlements. Most organizations already struggle to manage their subscription licensing for all sorts of software in use across the organization. 

There are two primary reasons for this lack of control and subsequent over-spend:

  1. Shadow IT – more users and department managers are using credit cards or local-level agreements to commit the organization to software agreements that are invisible to the centralized IT organization and are not budgeted-for at a corporate level.
  2. Lack of tracking – Buy 100 subscription licenses and it should be impossible to use 110.  However, it is very possible (easy, even) to use only 75 and thus to waste 25 percent of the annual spend on a given application.  That’s because very few organizations have yet implemented the ability to track the use of cloud apps and have to buy on perceived need rather than hard usage data.


Reducing the risk of using software illegally – and thus exposing the organization to financial risks and painful business disruption – has to be a good thing, and SAM professionals should feel proud of what they have achieved.

But the job is only half done.  Moving software licensing to the cloud has changed the need for Software Asset Management rather than removed it. The game is different but the goal is the same – to protect the organization from risk and cost.

To ensure your organization doesn’t end up over-spending in the Cloud, read more about Software Asset Management in the Cloud.

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