How to Choose a Software Asset Management Tool: Insights from the Gartner® Market Guide

In today’s rapidly evolving IT landscape, managing software assets has become a critical challenge for organizations. The proliferation of SaaS subscriptions with a legacy environment of perpetual licenses has left organizations struggling with selecting a single software asset management (SAM) tool or a collection of specialized point solutions. SAM tools aim to decipher the complex world of license and SaaS subscription management. This has led to a diverse set of software asset management (SAM) requirements. 

This blog explores our understanding of the key findings, recommendations and other sections from the Gartner® Market Guide for Software Asset Management Tools1, to help organizations select the right SAM tools to support their businesses. 

Key findings


To overcome the challenges associated with SAM tools and optimize their usage, sourcing, procurement, and vendor management leaders must consider the following recommendations: 

Market definition and description

The report identifies SAM tools are products that automate support tasks required to produce and maintain compliance with independent software vendor (ISV) license use rights and improve organizations’ ability to optimize software risk and spend. SAM tools provide in-depth software asset analysis by decoding license entitlements, automate software consumption data collection, establish ISV effective license position (ELP), govern software assets, optimize value delivery, and share information with other tools and stakeholders. 

Key activities of a SAM tool 

The report outlines ten key activities that a SAM tool should possess, including: 

Market direction  

The SAM tool market has diversified to cater to four distinct categories: traditional SAM tools, SAM tools for SAP, SAM tools for engineering and specialty software and SAM tools for SaaS. The market’s evolution has increased consumer choice, but also introduced confusion for organizations in selecting the right tools. Over the next 12 to 18 months, Gartner anticipates the following market changes:

Market analysis 

The complexity of software licenses and evolving infrastructure pose challenges for SAM tools.  SAM tool vendors focus their resources and products on their ability in supporting larger software publishers, common license types and commonly utilized infrastructure. As the software portfolio broadens, it leads to gaps in addressing custom license types and specialized vendors, products, and infrastructure. The diversified SAM tools market has seen traditional SAM tool vendors take a platform approach, moving into adjacent offerings such as IaaS management, unified endpoint management, SaaS management, workflow/request management, IT service management, vulnerability management and hardware asset management.  

Traditional SAM tool vendors aim to strengthen their single platform offerings, broaden their scope and enter adjacent markets. SAM tools focusing on the niche areas and specialized software such as SAP, specialty and engineering applications and SaaS solutions are being embedded into this market. Despite how this market provides organizations with more choice than previously available, it has also heightened the confusion. The result is organizations not knowing which choice is best while struggling to find and deliver the ROI SAM tool vendors promise.  

Alignment of SAM and FinOps 

As organizations focus on cost optimization, SAM and FinOps functions must converge to bridge data gaps and optimize software spending. The convergence enables SAM teams to track software consumption in cloud environments, providing valuable insights for cost optimization.

Representative Vendors

Snow Software is proud to be recognized as one of the Representative Vendors in traditional SAM tools by Gartner. 

You can find other vendor profiles in the full Gartner report 


By following the recommendations and understanding the market dynamics, sourcing, procurement, and vendor management leaders can make informed decisions to ensure SAM tools align with their strategic goals, enhance data quality, and optimize software risk and spend. Embracing the convergence of SAM and FinOps functions will further aid in achieving cost optimization and driving value from software investments.

1Gartner, “Market Guide for Software Asset Management Tools” by analysts Jaswant Kalay, Ciaran Hudson, and Yolanda Harris, 3 October 2023.   

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