Here are a few insights from reviewing 17 market leading SAM tools over the last few months:
1. GREAT TECHNOLOGY
First of all there is some great technology out there. As someone who is looking at this technology on a weekly basis I found myself surprised at how far the market has come in the last year. The market is in great shape and providing some great solutions despite tough economic conditions.
2. GROWING PROMINENCE
There is a growing disparity between standard inventory, ITSM and systems management tools that ‘do a bit of SAM’ and specialized Software Asset Management tools. Having a few fields to enter how many licenses you have bought just doesn’t cut it any more. The bona fide SAM tools are shaping a new market and leaving the systems management dinosaurs in the dust.
3. LACK OF AWARENESS
Speaking to end user organizations I believe there is a general lack of awareness of the true scope of what some of these technologies can really do to help. I think this is mostly due to mismatched marketing messages (see below).
The observation that caught me by surprise the most was lack of awareness amongst the vendors themselves. Some vendors (who after-all are make a living selling this stuff) had the genuine conviction that their technology was the best thing since sliced bread and did not realize how far some of their competitors had progressed.
4. CLOUD HOOPLA
I see plenty of advantages for vendors to move to a cloud based model as a development environment (and therefore end users will benefit from a much more nimble vendor) but direct benefits to end-users are only just beginning to materialize.
5. DATED MARKETING MESSAGES
SAM technology is proceeding at a cracking pace whereas the marketing of SAM tools, for the most part, is looking a bit tired.
The mantra we hear from vendors is ‘You can save 30% on licensing with SAM’.
Yes, thanks, we get it. Can we move on now?
Nobody buys technology based on Gartner statements these days. We want to see some real use cases and examples. Not glossy PR-laden case studies with gushing praise but real grit – show us real examples of how it is done, how to do it and how to get started.
6. SAM TOOLS WON’T MAKE YOU COMPLIANT
The main characteristics of market leading SAM tools are automation and business intelligence. They automate the recognition and reconciliation of different data feeds and provide intelligence on what is found in order to make licensing decisions and optimize the asset lifecycle.
However, the current breed of SAM tools won’t make you compliant. In the same way that Sage, QuickBooks or Oracle Financials won’t make you profitable. These financial tools will provide you with the information in which to make changes to your business so that you may become profitable – but profitable is not an out of the box experience. In the same fashion don’t expect SAM technology, no matter how good it is, to be a silver bullet to keep software publishers at bay.
7. ENORMOUS GROWTH POTENTIAL
Finally, the total number of clients across all 17 vendors globally was 19,000.
As I have said before, this is not an exhaustive list of SAM technology vendors but I believe it demonstrates the limited amount of market penetration to date and huge potential for growth.
About Martin Thompson
Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.
On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.
Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.