Q. The ITAM Review: How is SAM perceived in Japan?
Takeshi: It’s been about 15 years since ITAM was introduced to the Japanese market. It started as a solution for reducing total cost of ownership of PCs and increasing visibility of the enterprise. Software management was initially introduced to the market as LAM (License Asset Management).
The methodology of LAM was simply managing the total number of software licenses that were purchased and being used on PCs for total number of use reconciliation.
After ISO/IEC 19770-1 was published in 2006, it was translated to Japanese by JSA (Japanese Standards Association), and the Japanese management standard for SAM was created and published by SAMcon (Software Asset Management consortium) based on ISO/IEC 19770-1 (now its version is 2.0 published in 2007).
Today, JIPDEC (Japan Information Processing Development Corporation) has a SAM committee that is promoting SAM by publishing a “SAM User’s Guide” based on ISO/IEC 19770-1 and conducting nationwide seminars. Regarding software piracy, there is ACCS (Association of Copyright for Computer Software), which has been promoting Intellectual Property issues and copyright of computer software.
Also the BSA (Business Software Alliance) in Japan has been actively promoting SAM via mass media, as well as acting as an enforcement organization and making headlines in Japan. There have been a few rather big settlements with public sector and private sector organizations by the BSA. One was more than $3M, the second biggest settlement ever made, but because that private company was very well known company, the name of the company was unrevealed publicly. Another big settlement was over $1M by Hokkaido Prefecture Government. It’s publicly known fact. It made Asahi Newspaper’s headline.
Because of all those promotional efforts and scandals, SAM is gaining momentum in the market and getting to acknowledged as “what we need to do to avoid potential embarrassment or damage to the company”.
Q. How does the maturity of SAM in Japan compare to other nations?
Japan is closely following North America and Europe. According to BSA’s 2009 Year Review report, the piracy rate in 2008 for Japan was 21%, whereas United States was 20%, United Kingdom was 27%, Germany 27%.
At the same time, most enterprises claim to have SAM under control at the LAM level. Only being able to reconcile the total number is rough, while ISO level management requires being able to reconcile user-hardware-installed software-license asset-license asset attributes (proof of license, CDs, etc.).
The challenge in most cases is that enterprises are totally dependent on SAM tool capabilities. Most enterprise have some sort of ITAM tool deployed already, whether it only takes inventory collection of PCs or it offers wide variety of ITAM capabilities including some level of SAM reconciliation.
The ITAM manager wants to believe that they are doing SAM just by managing software purchases by the procurement department and inventory information collection by IS department, yet when they realize it is far from realizing SAM level of ISO, the only solution they can think of is “find a new tool that has a SAM realization capability”. In many cases they find that they are in same place as they were before replacing SAM tool.
In many cases, when SAM tool vendors claim to have ISO level capability for their technology, the reality is that they don’t, and some of SAM tool vendors even do not understand what it takes to bring their tools to the ISO level.
The promotion of SAM tools is somewhat hazardous because they try to take advantage of ITAM managers who have limited time to grasp the requirements for ISO SAM and mislead them to believe their SAM tool does everything that the ITAM manager wants to realize ISO level SAM.
Q. What is software publisher audit activity like in Japan?
Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, IBM, Oracle are very active in Japan. Some vendors prefer not to call it an “audit” but take a more educational “soft approach”. One ITAM manager told me that his company has been audited every year for last 3 years by vendors like Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk. His concern is that he has completed vendor specific license management practices of each vendor in order to comply with the audits. His SAM practices are therefore not unified and applicable to all of the software assets he manages, which results in intense manual labor and non-replicable effort to realize ISO level SAM.
Q. What are some of the most popular technologies used for SAM in Japan?
The most popular technologies are ITAM tools have inventory information collection capability and some level of software asset registration, and reconciliation capability.
There are quite a few ITAM tool vendors. I’ll name a few:
- Quality Soft
- Hitachi JP1
- Sumitomo Electric System Solution
- JAL Information Technology
Q. Can you recommend some specialist training providers or solution providers in the Japanese SAM market?
There are vendor specific programs such as Microsoft SAM MCP and SAM partner, Adobe SAM partner, Autodesk SAM partner, etc. Unfortunately there is not much vendor neutral specialist training providers. The BSA is planning to introduce BSA SAM Advantage as a specialist training program in Japan but other than that I don’t know who does it. JIPDEC held a series of introductory nationwide seminars for SAM practitioners and it published a “SAM User’s Guide” and provided it for free in PDF.
Q. Are there any challenges that Japanese IT Managers face that are unique to Japan with regards to SAM?
I believe Japan has some unique organizational challenges.
Many Japanese organizations and enterprises consist of many subsidiaries. Some group companies may purchase a site wide license for Microsoft whilst at the same time software is also purchased at the subsidiary level or department level.
In order to consolidate all of the software asset data and be able to manage their software estate as a group and take advantage of SAM an organization needs to figure out who is going to take the initiative and communicates to all the different levels within the group.
Q. What is the view of the ISO/IEC 19770-1 Standard in Japan?
ISO/IEC 19770-1 was translated into Japanese and its Japanese equivalent was published by JSA as JIS X 0164-1 in 2010.
As BSA, JIPDEC, SAMcon and others have been promoting ISO/IEC 19770-1 in Japan, organizations are eager to adopt it however because of the reasons mentioned above, they have been struggling switching between one SAM tool and another.
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.