I recently joined WG21 which is the working group within ISO (International Standards Organisation). The group has been working to create standards around the field of IT Asset Management. The group is comprised of a blend of software publishers, SAM tool vendors and consultants.

So why should anyone care?

Well standards can sound a bit dry, but these things really could improve the industry. Let me give a few examples:

  • 19770-1 is a framework to run a SAM (Software Asset Management) process. The 2012 revision is a massive step up and offers a tiered approach which means it’s not such a daunting task to get started.
  • The 19770-2 standard is mechanism to tag applications when they’re installed allowing software customers to accurately figure out what they have. Ultimately this will help both vendors and customers have a much more fair discussion on what needs to be paid for as and eventually it could reduce the cost of responding to audit as there will be a structured and standard way of collecting data on installed products. Vendors such as Microsoft and Adobe deserve a pat on the back for getting behind this.
  • 19770-3 is a standard that will be an open and structured way of documenting the entitlements contained within a software license. If the group can drive adoption of this structure, it will make the task of trying to unpick what you bought much, much easier. Publishers can take advantage of a nice, common, data structure to communicate entitlement data without reinventing the wheel. SAM tools vendors (such as ourselves) will be able to consume this one document type and reconcile based on the fields within. I’m personally really excited about this one and am really looking forward to getting involved.
  • There’s piles more going on including a standard (-4) on measuring usage (again – exciting stuff) and guide on how to put it all together (-7).

And one final point – Open is always better than closed. Pushing your vendors to commit to this philosophy means integration between products will be easier and data will be far more portable so changing providers will be much more simple.

You might be thinking: “Sounds like there’s lots still going on… I think I’ll wait till it’s less of a moving target!”

Some people might be daunted by the new stuff coming and might feel that they shouldn’t invest before the complete product is “finished”… Well I have two observations on this comment:

  1. Each standard is a work unto itself – if you’re just starting out – grab a copy of 19770-1 (or “Dash one” if you down with the street lingo) and see what you might want to do for tier 1. Likewise if you’re a sysadmin running Microsoft ConfigMgr 2012 – check out the new 19770-2 capabilities. No need to wait for all the standards to be complete
  2. It will probably never be finished. The industry is changing all the time and the standards will update over time to reflect this, so just like a software product – nice shiny new versions are to be welcomed and expected.

If you’d like to know more – please feel free to reach out to me.