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What is the Difference Between SAM and ITAM?

What is the difference between SAM and ITAM?

What is the difference between SAM and ITAM?

First of all let’s get the acronyms out of the way:

What is the difference between SAM and ITAM?

In my view, both HAM and SAM are components of ITAM.

SAM tends to get more exposure and emphasis (especially on this site) because:

  1. Software audits are an expensive, compelling focus
  2. Software is mysterious, expensive and ephemeral, unlike hardware which can collect dust, take up space and hold open doors when not in use. Just try explaining to a non-IT finance person where the money got spent on physical servers versus client access licenses – one is significantly more easier explain than the other.

However rather than being separate disciplines I believe there is significant overlap. You can’t really do one without the other. Implementing a good SAM practice will undoubtedly have good repercussions on the management of other assets but will fall short of full ITAM. The key dependency between HAM and SAM is the platform – which is usually very important. It could be firmware on a switch, the number of processors on a server or the operating system of a desktop.

What’s Your View?

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About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

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.

9 Comments

  1. Sandi Conrad says:

    I agree. There is a huge connection between the two disciplines and to full benefit in SAM, HAM needs to be managed as

    well. After all, what’s the point of knowing where the licenses are installed if you can’t find the machine they’re installed upon?

    There are lots of opportunities to reduce costs in both hardware, software and gain efficiencies in IT service management by

    having an effective ITAM practice.

  2. Shrihari Lele says:

    Yes I agree with Mark. HW and SW are treated with different life span in different industry verticals. The frequent

    changes in vendor licensing contracts also need to be understood and mapped on contractual dependency.

  3. Jason Keogh says:

    I couldn’t agree more Martin.

    Many software licenses are dependant on hardware details –

    think IBM PVU licensing or Oracle database Processor licenses.

    This area is made more complex by virtualization and partitioning –

    sub-capacity licensing and hard v soft partitioning…

    SAM cannot exist in isolation of “HAM” – and too often people try to “do

    SAM” without having the basic information about the platforms software is running on correct – this just leads to failed SAM

    implementations.

  4. Jason Keogh says:

    I couldn’t agree more Martin.

    Many software licenses are dependant on hardware details – think IBM PVU licensing or Oracle database Processor licenses.

    This area is made more complex by virtualization and partitioning – sub-capacity licensing and hard v soft partitioning…

    SAM cannot exist in isolation of “HAM” – and too often people try to “do SAM” without having the basic information about the platforms software is running on correct – this just leads to failed SAM implementations.

  5. Cary King says:

    Software audits are troublesome and inconvenient.
    You certainly have the commonality

    correct.

    I also believe it is time we took our focus off of Software Audits as the business driver for SAM. It rather like only

    responding to responsibility after being caught stealing. Better to focus on prevention of creating the constructive liability in the

    first place. Just as we do with purchasing approvals before we create liabilities, perhaps it is time to create management controls that

    prevent software installs without management controls. Perhaps a new focus on not overlicensing as well – where the real waste is.

    I would say, however, that we need to add in Virtual environments into the mix. High-speed, automated provisioning of VMs and VDI

    will create a new demand for management controls over sprawl.

  6. This is a very elegant description. However, there is possibly a third

    circle in the Venn diagram; contracts. Both SAM and HAM have a contractual dependency. It is all well and good knowing what assets you

    have, but without understanding the terms under which you have them you miss a very important part of the picture.

  7. Nan Zevenhek says:

    The Hardware data can be used for completeness check of the Software data

    and vice versa. First impression is that Hardware is ‘more easy’ to count and can not be installed more as purchased physically. But

    virtualisation and paramaters hampers this. Counting of software might be used to discover ‘illegal’ hardware installations.
    Both

    areas have in common that terminology is not standard, not transparant and not shared between HAM and SAM vendors.
    ITAM should develop

    a strategy to reduce the complexity to control HAM and SAM.

  8. Susan Mowbray says:

    I agree with the comments above, the ITAM / HAM /SAM diagram is very good, but I think Mark is right that there

    is one more dimension that is missing that covers the licensing contracts, which can have special negotiated terms and conditions that

    utterly change the license liability. In our organisation, we call this LAM – Licensing Asset Management.

  9. Good point. The connection between SAM and HAM require that one be managed just as well as the other.

    Just as solutions for hardware efficiency abound, software and IT asset management tools should be tapped, and good practices need to be in place.

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