LearningCenter Post94

What are Software Asset Management (SAM) Tools: Functions, Advantages, and Disadvantages

In this modern age of technology, Software Asset Management tools are becoming a necessity in managing the growing complexity of a company’s software infrastructure and inventory. But what exactly is a SAM tool and what does it do? Will SAM tools help or hinder attempts to track your software usage? At Metrixdata360, we are happy to share the benefit of our experience in having spent decades working in this industry. We can tell you exactly what a SAM tool is good for, where its limitations lie, and what the tool’s function will be in the case of a software audit.

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What are Software Asset Management Tools?

Software Asset Management tools are software programs designed to make tracking your software licensing easy and efficient, such as Metrixdata360’s SAM Compass. According to the ITAM Review, SAM tools can provide inventory and discovery services, monitoring accounts for both passive and active use, usage statistics, datacenter management, and virtual environment management, to simply name a few. Many older SAM tools still in use in the market today prove useful only in inventory related usage reporting since they struggle to account for multiple licensing metrics, but you will want a SAM tool that can do both.


Benefits of SAM Tools

SAM tools can provide so much benefit to your company if used properly and according to Technologyconcepts, and Dynamixsolutions some of those benefits include:

  • Allowing your IT Department to Demonstrate Worth and Strategy
  • Avoiding huge fines
  • Decreasing your chances of being audited

Let’s go through some of these benefits one by one.


IT Department can Demonstrate Worth and Strategy

The IT department, with SAM on their side, is given the opportunity to effectively show where and how the organization’s IT budget is being spent. With that kind of data at their disposal, the IT department can effectively make the case for the deployment of needed software. Dynamixsolutions specifically points out that SAM tools also come with a security component to it as well, which can lower the chance of viruses, network breaches or malware, a much-appreciated benefit that allows your IT department to sleep a little more easily at night.


Avoiding Huge Fines

With an accurate inventory of environment deployments, SAM tools track and provide up-to-date views of where budget is being invested. The data collected by these tools is critical during a software audit to prove that the organization is within compliance. Having a compliance gap can cost huge, un-budgeted financial penalties that can devastate a company’s balance sheet. Inaccurate data can often inflate compliance gaps by sometimes more than double of what might actually be owed. Having clear, concise reports of inventory is essential in order to counter the auditor’s findings and could spare you a more painful-than-necessary penalty should you be out of compliance when audited.


Decreasing Your Chances of Being Audited by Software Vendors

While there is little that can be done to perpetually avoid being audited, there are ways organizations can manage their audit risks. Software vendors are more likely to initiate an audit when they sense the complexity of a company’s environment and suspect that little is in place to monitor that complexity. Having effective SAM tools at your disposal is one way to properly demonstrate to vendors that if an audit is called, your licensing environment will be well inventoried with accessible reporting readily available. Being able to demonstrate preparedness can go a long way in encouraging both publishers and auditors to turn their gaze towards more penalty-lucrative environments than yours.


Additional Features SAM Tools Offer

  • Re-deployment recommendations, which will allow for the rearrangement of licenses, taking from spots where you are overpaying and reapplying them to where you are underpaying
  • Datacenter and server solutions

These features are wonderful to help improve your ability to track your license compliance but where does that usefulness end?

Disadvantages of SAM Tools

In every ad for SAM tools out there, the program is passed off as the last stop on your way to easy street. After you’ve installed your SAM tool, your job is done and you’re completely in compliance, now you can relax and get back to what you do best, running your business and taking care of your clients. Right? Everyone buys SAM tools with the desire to make sure they are not offside of their contracts with the software vendors they work with. SAM tools do that to an extent but there are critical limitations in functionality with every SAM tool that you need to be aware of in order to leverage the SAM tool fully in its area of strength.


Weaknesses Commonly Found in SAM Tools

  • According to Flexera’s blog post Three Reasons Why Software Asset Management Programs Have Difficulty Realizing Value, one of the biggest weaknesses organizations face with their SAM tools are the people using the tools. A tool is only as good as the people using it, meaning a rookie with the program will likely miss deployments or fail to interpret the data in an optimized way.
  • SAM tools have trouble accounting for changes in your environment, such as changes to your licenses; or the improper removal of old software, which can leave exposure to unexpected duplicates.
  • SAM tools also struggle in distinguishing the difference between test environments and fully deployed software, which may leave you overestimating or underestimating the number of fully functioning installations.
  • If you’ve purchased OEM or retail boxes, your SAM tool may not recognize them in Its database.

Understanding the limitations of your SAM tool is just as important as understanding the functionality it brings. When purchasing a SAM tool, finding one that best fits your unique environment requirements is the key to preventing the need to maintain spreadsheets to make up for missing information; or worse yet, being forced to buy another SAM tool.


Further Available Research

It’s important to keep your licensing position under control in order to protect your company from the unforeseen expenses of a potential audit. Software Asset Management tools are one great method that can help you keep your company’s assets and inventory organized; but it shouldn’t be the only method you use. At Metrixdata360, we use the SAM tools that you already have installed and augment their functionality with our own proprietary SAM toolsets we’ve developed over time in order to provide the most accurate results for any upcoming software audit or SAM review. For more information about SAM tools, please consult our Learning Center.

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