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Software asset management: Ensuring your assets do not become your liabilities

Talking Tech By Stephanie Kardaras, CDW solutions manager, software asset management, Network World
September 20, 2012 10:54 AM ET
Stephanie Kardaras

Network World - Ever-evolving technology has drastically changed the way businesses manage their software assets. Software asset management (SAM) is a set of proven processes and procedures to manage and optimize your organization's IT assets. SAM helps companies protect software investments by enabling the organization to recognize what software it has, where the software is running and whether or not the organization is using all software assets efficiently.

Five years ago, even some of the largest companies did not necessarily place a high priority on SAM outside of taking inventory for compliance purposes. But the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality of the past no longer applies. Amid tightening budgets, organizations are re-evaluating the importance of actively monitoring current software assets.

The emergence of trends such as cloud computing, mobility and virtualization has propelled SAM into the forefront of the software purchasing process. Due to these advances in technology, SAM has evolved into a more robust process involving software, multiple-use rights and compliance. Addressing these key components is a critical step toward increasing efficiency and mitigating risk.

Businesses often purchase software and hardware assets without a clearly defined management method. Without proper management, assets can become little more than shelfware -- software that is neither used nor needed. SAM prevents the shelfware phenomenon throughout the entire technology life cycle by maintaining accurate, up-to-date information of software programs, license agreements and current usage, ensuring that businesses get the greatest return when investing in new software.

Due to the mobility boom, SAM now needs to take into consideration monitoring assets on multiple devices. Although it may seem like a daunting task, the need to monitor multiple devices has broadened the awareness of IT decision-makers, helping them to focus on vendor management, purchasing consolidation and software life cycle management. This awareness can help your businesses understand how to utilize SAM as an offensive tool to reduce costs, increase efficiency and alleviate risk.

MORE: Change management: four key components to track

Different degrees of SAM

Software asset management is definitely a journey. There are many phases and levels of maturity that customers go through as their journeys continue. The first phase commonly beings with addressing a "time of need." Perhaps it is gathering the necessary information to determine what software titles and quantities the organization needs to renew.

When organizations first start to dip their toes into implementing a SAM program, many lack the proper tools to manage their software throughout its full life cycle. For this group, it is best to start with a baseline evaluation of your software to identify and address the top issues. Simply answering questions such as, "What software concerns keep me up at night?" or, "Which software assets consume the highest percentage of our budget?" can help you determine which software elements your business should tackle first.

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