Picking the right SAM tool shouldn’t be the only thing you think about, it’s more about driving the outcomes required from the enterprise and optimising investment
There are plenty of choices when it comes to SAM tools. However, picking the right one isn’t just about the tool itself, it also about knowing what you want out of the tool and processes that go alongside them. Buying a SAM tool cannot be rushed into without a second thought. The right tool will be essential to the success of your software asset management plans.
What do you really want?
Every organisation is different and will thus have different requirements. This means there will be differing products on the market to service those needs. Organisations have to work out what they need from a SAM tool and how they are going to implement it into an ecosystem of procedures and processes to create an environment of continual compliance and licence optimisation.
This means thinking about things such as inventory and discovery; metering; license management; usage stats; mobile device management; datacentre management; and virtualisation and cloud environment management. It also means a greater conversation within the organisation about what software is needed where in the organisation and how it can be managed in an optimised way.
Also to be considered are such things as whether you want agent or agentless technology; how you want reports generated; and how SaaS applications are discovered, tracked and licenses managed for the most efficient use.
If your organisation is almost entirely mobile then a complex mobile device management solution would be preferable to a general SAM tool, even when SAM tools often integrate MDM into their suite of functionalities.
Do you need to do everything?
All organisations have their own individual needs. You not only have to think about what is in the organisation now but what may be needed in the future. This means careful planning and probably the creation of multiple scenarios.
If we assume that your organisation wants one SAM tool to do everything (desktops, laptops, mobile, servers, virtual and cloud), while the tool won’t specialise in a particular field, it may well fulfil all requirements in some form.
Ease of use: SAM tools can be complex beasts but this shouldn’t prevent them from being easy to use. The interface should allow you to carry out SAM tasks easily and without it being time consuming.
Good support: You will need support from the vendor of your SAM tool during deployment and the ongoing management of the tool within your organisation.
Software metering: As part of a SAM project, you will want to optimise software licenses and usage and will require actionable data outputs to achieve this.
Inventory and discovery: You need to know what assets you have in your organisation.
License management: Tools have to be able to manage the major software license types that are out there on the market and in use within your organisation. This should also include software running in virtual and cloud environments.
Specialised license management: If you invested heavily in SAP, IBM or Oracle, some SAM tools provide support for licenses from these vendors and the complicated license management processes they entail.
Datacentre and server management: Many firms have datacentres and most will have servers running within their infrastructure. Software running in these environments will still have software that needs to be managed and monitored.
Virtual and cloud software management: VMware, Hyper-V, AWS and Azure are environments with software that needs to be managed. A SAM tool will need to glean information from these in order to keep you abreast of what is running in these cloud environments.
Will it fit in with what I have already?
You also have to ensure that any SAM tool introduced into your organisations will integrate or at least work with solutions already in place, such as ITSM tools, MDM solutions, etc. You need to find out if there are any compatibility issues that would prevent them working together. The existing tools would have had money and time invested in them.
If you buy a SAM tool that deploys agents on systems, those agents will have to be included on images used to build machines for your organisation. This may seem like a small thing, but it will have an impact. Also, if a user has admin rights, do they have the ability to remove a SAM agent? If so this could mean one less machine it has oversight of.
Making a list, checking it twice
To recap, there are a number of things to remember when choosing a SAM tool.
Will you get support?
Is it compatible with other tools you use?
What will the impact be on your business and users?
How easy is it to deploy to local machine?
Can you manage it on a daily basis?
Do you have the right server to host the tool?
Can your tool manage virtual or cloud-based software?
How often does the vendor update the SAM tool?
How is data collected and are resources tied up with this data is collected?
How will this help in meeting organisational goals in compliance and efficiency?
Don’t expect the tool to do it all for you
Any SAM tool is only as good as the knowledge and structure you deploy to optimise it’s use. Without the necessary skills sets to assimilate the data outputs against the complex landscape of publisher licensing agreements a SAM tool will only get you so far, and that may not be as far as you would like! Enterprises are increasingly looking to appoint expert SAM partners to help them establish and manage a credible SAM environment across their business and at the same time optimise the deployment and use of the chosen SAM tool. If you believe you lack the band width or skill set required to do this yourself then this approach is probably the first decision you need to take before you procure the SAM tool!
Every organisation is different, but the principles of choosing a tool are broadly the same. It has to be the right one for your environment that helps in meeting broader goals of your organisation and optimising its software investments and maintaining compliance. If you have any doubt regarding your ability to optimise an investment in a SAM tool think about appointing an expert SAM partner who can help you understand what your organisation needs and how this can be achieved and this will determine the appropriate tool and approach to help reach those goals.