This article is an excerpt from our review of worldwide SAM Managed Service Providers – view the full report here (registration required).
The senior management team at Softline Solutions originate from the licensing reseller Comparex. During discussions for this review, Softline stated they found it difficult balancing the conflict of interest at their previous employer between advising clients on best practice SAM and also profiting from license sales. Now they claim they are free to advise with their client’s best interests in mind. This declaration was a recurring theme of all participants in this review with truly independent SAM providers growing in popularity.
Softline Solutions have 25 SAM consultants across Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium with experience with over 250 SAM projects. They have an impressive list of large clients across mainland Europe. (Note: The Softline Group operates throughout mainland Europe with headquarters in Leipzig, Germany. The group is not to be confused with ‘Softline International’ a service provider with headquarters in Moscow, Russia).
When positioning their offering, they capture the essence of SAM. Which I’m pleased to say extends way beyond the usual SAM rhetoric of counting licenses and compliance:
“Planned, controlled and economically sensible use of software, along with unrestricted availability, are important strategic success factors for your organisation”
They target their SAM managed services at three key audiences:
- The CIO – looking to optimize investments,
- The CFO – looking to manage risk and provide continuous compliance and
- The IT Admin – who is concerned with deployment and availability
I was impressed by the pragmatic approach Softline Solutions take in assisting their clients with SAM. Their methodology, underpinned by ISO/IEC 19770-1, leads clients down a maturity path to improve their SAM practice. This begins with their ‘House of SAM’ methodology to identify weak points in the existing infrastructure and helps client build a business case and on-going SAM improvement plan. Reporting is comprehensive and action oriented.
Like other suppliers in this review Softline Solutions have a number of tiered offerings to suit different customer sizes and requirements:
- SAMasp – hosted SAM infrastructure. Available as private cloud (on customer site), public cloud (on a Softline datacentre) or hybrid cloud (harnessing service provider partners such as T-Systems or Fujitsu)
- SAMdesk – a software licensing bureau for managing licensing queries and new registering licenses
- SAMintelligence – remote analysis and recommendations on compliance risks and cost saving opportunities
Of these three tiers, I think their approach to ‘SAMdesk’ is particularly practical. Clients are offered monthly credits to be applied to licensing queries; with more difficult questions accruing more credits than simpler licensing questions. The result is licensing expertise on tap at a predictable price.
Their service is underpinned by technology by Flexera, yet is remarkable how different their offering compares to the managed services offered by Flexera. Softline services seem to be more pragmatic, built from experience with engagements and suited to customer requirements rather than deployment of product. If Flexera Software has the desire to rapidly expand their managed services business in Europe – the shortcut would be to simply buy Softline Solutions.
Softline Solutions are yet to see massive take up of their managed service with the majority of their current business being project led, but I believe they have built a strong model from which to scale. One to watch.
Download the full SAM managed services report for free here.
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.