The Convergence of Cloud Management and SAM

Tim Jesser looks at how the cloud has changed the responsibilities and mandates of software asset management.

It wasn’t that long ago that a software asset manager’s job wasn’t quite as complex as it is now. Desktop deployments were the primary concern and ensuring compliance with software licensing terms, while certainly not easy, was reasonably straightforward once the necessary data was gathered. The cloud has fundamentally shifted and grown the responsibilities and mandate of software asset management (SAM).

There are a few points that highlight both the risks and opportunities cloud deployment presents:

SAM includes cloud services, and is better off for it

There are still a small number of SAM leaders that feel cloud doesn’t fall under their remit. But beyond semantic definitions and ISO/IEC categorization, effective SAM leaders have recognized that in order to provide value to their organization, they must consider cloud services. Let’s look at just a few of the areas where SAM and asset data can provide value:

But value can’t be provided to these areas without incorporating usage and cost data for cloud services. Without considering public cloud, organizations aren’t able to track the shift from on-premises to cloud, don’t have complete visibility into technology spend, and aren’t ready for new and varied challenges cloud brings to security and compliance.

As compliance concerns wane, cost challenges grow

While being out of compliance in the cloud is still possible—especially when using on-premises entitlements in public cloud environments—it is less of a concern than when desktop deployments dominated the enterprise. But as this concern lessens, another grows: controlling costs. There are a few primary reasons for this:

“By 2020, eliminating the “toxic” consumption of “PaaS” and “IaaS” will become a high-priority focus of SAM discipline for 50% of organizations.2”

Based on my conversations with SAM and IT leaders, Gartner’s prediction of a few years ago has certainly come to pass. Organizations are struggling with cloud cost containment. Fortunately, with the right solutions, processes, and perspective in place, effective management is possible.

Broad visibility of assets and usage enables cost control

Snow recently introduced its Technology Intelligence vision (below) to capture the growing scope of technologies that asset managers must consider. We recognize that while we might still sometimes refer to our discipline as SAM, traditional software is only one part of the equation within the increasingly complex IT landscape. IT leaders and SAM practitioners must now account for on-premises, IaaS, SaaS, and hardware.

Importantly, across all of these environments, a critical aspect is the ability to capture usage data. With cloud services usage data, a SAM leader can begin to truly understand and manage costs. Just a few examples of what is possible within the realm of public cloud include:

Closing Thoughts

Two years ago, Gartner said of SAM, “Market Penetration is low today – between 1 and 5% of the target audience, despite the many benefits that can be achieved by implementing SAM tools”1. While adoption has certainly grown in the past two years, most organizations still have not taken advantage of SAM and asset management solutions. My prediction is that the explosion of cloud services usage will create an opportunity and a justification for organizations to realize the value these solutions can bring, especially in the area of cost management.

For more insight on cloud management, download your copy of the latest 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Management Platforms.

1 Gartner, Emerging Technology Analysis; Software Asset Management Tools, April Adams, Roger Williams, March 5, 2018.

2 Gartner, Predicts 2018: Mature Your IT Asset Management Discipline to Deliver on the Promise of Digital Business, Yanni Karalis, Tim Zimmerman, Stephen White, Roger Williams, Bart Willemsen, December 12, 2017.