Read Part 1 in our series of articles on SAM tools here.
What to look for in a good SAM Tool
This is a tough call to make, as everyone’s needs are different. Let’s assume an organisation wants a solid ‘all-round’ SAM tool that has both desktop, sever, virtual capabilities. Whilst they may not specialise on one single aspect of software asset management, it may tick all the boxes you need in some form (in no particular order);
- Strong inventory and discovery capabilities – You want to know exactly what assets are in your IT environment
- Strong software metering – As part of your SAM program you’re going to want to optimize your software licenses and usage (software license optimization, SLO)
- Easy to use – SAM tools are complex as it is, you don’t want to further complicate issues by having a tool that is challenging and time consuming to use. A nice user interface (UI) helps with every-day use
- License Management – With changes in licensing models, and complex licensing the backbone of software, organisations need a tool that can manage all the different license types. This includes cloud based and web based licensing
- Specialist license management – Do you have a large Oracle, IBM or SAP estate for example? If so, there are a number of SAM tools that provide specialist support for those vendors and their complex license management processes
- Good support network – As part of the implementation phase, and then with general support and education you want to look for a SAM tool vendor that provides expert support. If the tool vendor can’t provide support, are there any managed service providers who you could turn to?
- Server/Datacentre management – 99.9% of organisations have some sort of server or datacentre environment. You still need to manage the software on these so look for a tool that provides these capabilities
- Virtual software management – VMWare, Hyper-V or another form of virtual software/environment needs to be managed like other software assets. Ensure that the tool you chose provides you with enough information for successful management.
Will the tool fit your environment?
You may already have a number of solutions already in place, like a Service Management tool, Mobile Device Management solution or a separate Asset Management tool. Will adding a SAM tool into that mix fit within your environment, or will there be compatibility issues? They are important factors to consider as the organisation will already have invested money in the existing solutions, so will want all tools to work with, or at least in parallel with each other.
If the SAM tool in question has an agent, you also need to consider changing the image that is loaded onto machines so that all new machines automatically have the SAM tool agent installed from the moment they are built. It’s a small change to make, but it will impact on your new build process.
Another thing to consider when thinking about the impacts on the IT environment is how the SAM tool will be displayed on local machines. If an agent is involved, then sometimes this can be viewed via the program features or add/remove programs on Windows machines. Consideration must be taking for those with admin rights, as they may have the ability to remove the agent from the machine, thus effectively removing him or herself from the SAM program.
Checklist of things to consider
There are a number of key points to remember when picking a tool;
- Compatibility with other systems/solutions/tools within your environment
- Support you’ll get from the tool vendor. You’ll certainly need it!
- Impact implementation will have on users
- How easy it is to deploy the agent within your particular environment?
- Do you have the resources to manage the tool on a daily basis?
- Do you have the server infrastructure to host such a powerful tool?
- Licensing models are changing. Does the tool manage cloud software or web-based software?
- How often does the tool vendor release patches or new features? Will not updating impact on your existing solutions performance?
- How is the data gathered? Is there ‘down time’ whilst the data is being updated? Will this impact on certain users? (time zone based issue).
There are hundreds of points that could be in the checklist above, but we’ve picked out the most important points to consider. Procuring and implementing a SAM tool is a unique experience for each organisation. The principles of the implementation processes are the same, but the environment in which the tool is being integrated into differs every time. Organisations typically want the same outcome from a SAM tool, to be compliant, manage their software licenses better and also to save money. However, the methods and approaches used to achieve those goals vary due to the difference in personnel, IT environment and also the IT Asset Management (ITAM) estate.
It’s great you have a tool, but remember…
The tool is worthless without the people and processes to manage it.
The ITAM Review is hosting a ‘Tools Event Day’ in New York on Wednesday 28th January 2015. This is a great opportunity for ITAM Review readers and end-users to come see ITAM Tools in action, and speak to the tool vendors. You can find out more information about this and the rest of our New York event lineup here!