Software Asset Management (SAM) has been around since Microsoft first published their Product Use Rights. With every product introduced came an enormous amount of licensing complexity. Unless you hold a PHD in Microsoft licensing rules, most organizations would quickly find themselves in a licensing conundrum they never saw coming. In walks in our friend SAM. SAM will help you with your audit, SAM will make sure things are running smoothly, and SAM will be your new best friend. But where does SAM fit in if your customers move to the cloud? Do they even need SAM anymore? Poor SAM might be pushed aside like he is a box of Windows Vista.
Not so fast my friend. SAM is needed more now than it was even two years ago. Why? Regardless of what any publisher may tell you, moving to the cloud doesn’t lower licensing complexities, if anything it enhances it. Sure if you are a new organization and do not own any licensing, moving to the cloud is easy, but if you are like 99.9% of all other organizations, you have licenses you may want to leverage instead of buying them all over again. How do you do that? If you are a service provider, how do you ensure your customer’s are compliant?
Most of my conversations have moved away from “How to license Windows Server” to “How can my customers leverage SQL in my datacenter environment if I am also reporting SQL on my SPLA” or “I want to use AWS using my SPLA licenses, can I do that?” And recently, “I signed a CSP Direct agreement to leverage QMTH, but now what?”
SAM is no longer about audits. Sure, you might get audited, and we can certainly help, but more importantly, what are you going to do about your licensing once your audit is completed? How much time do you spend making sure your licenses or your customer licenses are compliant? How do you know if you report 10k a month, that it’s right? Most service providers are concerned about under reporting SPLA, I would argue the bigger concern is over reporting. Here’s what a good SAM engagement should provide:
- Licensing Costs – how much are you paying for licenses as compared to other organizations?
- Use Rights – What use rights are available that you might know exist. (there are plenty)
- How to ensure your customers are compliant and what language should you include to eliminate compliance risk in all your agreements.
- Help identify which licensing program is best for your organization and your customers. Wouldn’t it be great if you worked with a company that can also reduce your clients licensing costs? This would include CSP, License Mobility, Outsourcing (AWS/Azure/Google, etc).
- Compliance: How to ensure you are not only compliant, but licensing the most cost-effective way possible.
- Audit Support – Yes, if the audit police come knocking, you should be in good shape to handle based on your SAM partner expertise.
- Roadmap (I hate that term) but it’s important. What is on the radar that you should be aware of? As an example, CSP is an annual term, are there plans to make it 3 year like other licensing programs? Pricing is locked, but can I negotiate at the end of my renewal for CSP? What happens if I true down? (Good luck with that by the way).
There are plenty other examples but I think you get the point, cloud licensing is about as complex as on premise licensing. SAM in 2018 should help you tackle these areas and not just handle audit support. Any company that promotes audit support is not a business partner, they are the One and Done’s of software licensing.
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Thanks for reading,