The future of SAM

The-future-of-SAM

An interesting question posed at a recent gathering of Software Asset Management professionals (what is the collective noun for those who practice SAM?!) posed the question: will the cloud/Software as a Service (SaaS) lead to the end of SAM?

At a glance, the prospect of a long-term career in SAM might see one reaching for a university prospectus, but before everyone throws themselves head-long into a path of re-education, it might be worth considering some current aspects to the topic:

SaaS is not ubiquitous: Whilst it is an emerging trend, many companies would like to sweat the assets they bought in the last 18 months, or to maximize the benefits of a software upgrade they cashed in on to make the most of the technology roadmap the software vendors promoted.

SaaS might not be fit for purpose: Certain medical, defense, financial or regulatory requirements might preclude SaaS as a business option.

How do you (technically) support SaaS? If your software truly sits in the cloud, how are you going to offer technical support on such a product? Could you be seduced by seemingly favorable subscription rates, only to find out that the very support and maintenance you need to keep the product working effectively is hemorrhaging cash?

How do you meter SaaS applications? The notion might well be that billing services are based on trustworthy data from the SaaS providers, and that generating invoices around usage is nothing more complex than receiving and paying your phone bill. However, anecdotal evidence has already come to light that one particular SaaS provider does not have accurate billing procedures in place; based on metering evidence provided by an inventory tool the client decided to install.

Negotiating the moving of services from one member of staff to another: Previous draconian approaches by software vendors in respect of license transfers will have to become far more flexible to accommodate the flux of staff in and out of a company.

SAM, I suspect, will move away from chasing evidence and the rights to use, and will give way to a requirement to understand the finer points of a service contract and the penalties involved in non-delivery of services. Don’t be surprised in a few years’ time if your SAM Manager sits in the contract or procurement department as opposed to IT.

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