Software Asset Management: Cloud or Not?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | April 22, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: If your email, calendar, and apps are all in the cloud, why not do the same with your software asset management tools?

Ken Hess

Ken Hess




Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Best Argument: Not


Audience Favored: Not (71%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Move to the cloud for scalability's sake

Ken Hess: Software Asset Management (SAM) must move to the Cloud for scalability's sake. Now that mobile devices are part of the overall bucket of software use platforms, we must have a way to track licenses, deploy software, manage patches, meter usage and provide application security on a large scale. No longer can enterprises depend on isolated SAM infrastructure to do everything required of these tasks. Cloud is the only answer available.

Sure, for smaller environments with a few dozen servers, a couple hundred desktops and a couple hundred mobile devices, you can manage software assets effectively with a traditional set of software backed by a database. But when you go beyond small or begin to look at more than a handful of key applications, the number of data points grows exponentially. A traditional software solution can't handle it.

The answer has been to grow the software solution's SAM infrastructure along with demand but more software vendors demand license accounting than ever before. There is a point at which it makes financial sense to use cloud infrastructure to manage your software assets rather than traditional software. That point is different for each company but the variables are same for any size company: number of devices and number of applications.

Network bandwidth can be another variable for companies that manage large numbers of devices. Think about the bandwidth drain for large patches, application rollouts and new or updated OS deployments. Cloud-based software management can ease network this bottleneck by leveraging the public Internet user's personal broadband connections for delivery. And user devices don't have to wait until they enter the corporate walls or connect via VPN to check-in with a cloud management setup.

Cloud-based software asset management solves a lot of problems for companies who have a lot of applications to monitor, a lot of devices to manage and a geographically disparate or mostly mobile workforce.

Hassles, downsides, and even risks

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Software asset management is a necessary evil for most organizations, and helps to manage software throughout its lifecycle – from purchase all the way through to disposal – and also helps to limit costs and reduce the legal risks by operating within the bounds of complex compliance regulations.

As with most things nowadays, there's been a move to put software asset management tools in the cloud. The idea is that the cloud is better, faster, and cheaper than an on-site solution. After all, if your email, calendar, and apps are all in the cloud, why not do the same with your software asset management tools?

While there can be no doubt that cloud computing offers companies a great way to buy in the right amount of power and resources they need to carry out a task, not everything is ideally suited to being deployed to the cloud, and there are hassles, downsides, and even risks associated with putting your software asset management tools into the cloud which you should consider.


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  • Cloud is a buzzword

    More than it is a beneficial business strategy. Small to mid-sized business with not benefit from cloud solutions as much as larger business might. Solid sound IT strategy aligned with the business trumps any technical solution every time.
    Reply Vote I'm for Not
  • The businesses I worked for . . .

    The businesses I've worked for used separate things for purchasing and deploying software. Full SAM as defined by the Wikipedia I haven't really seen yet.

    Scaling was never really a problem - once approved and purchased, I could push software out with a touch of a button. So I'm not really convinced that simply moving to the cloud will solve any scaling issues, as the businesses I've worked for have no scaling issues to begin with.

    "Think about the bandwidth drain for large patches, application rollouts and new or updated OS deployments."

    Moving to "the cloud" would also add the last mile problem as yet another bottleneck.

    "Cloud-based software management can ease network this bottleneck by leveraging the public Internet user's personal broadband connections for delivery."

    Assuming BYOD. Which has its own drawbacks, and is nowhere near as universal as ZDNet claims.

    And it still wouldn't resolve internal network issues, as no business I know of is actually dumping their internal network and throwing away their desktops.

    Ken seems to think "the cloud" is a magical, fix-everything entity that the laws of physics do not apply to. Frankly, I'd like to see solid, specific examples, not this magic-speak.
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Private cloud, maybe ... public cloud, NO!

    If your enterprise is large enough to move Asset Management to the cloud in order to meet your scalability needs, then it needs to be a private cloud in the organization's machine room. Why? Because asset management is a huge responsibility, requiring meticulous record keeping and 100% access - potentially at any time, 24/7.

    The risks of putting mission-critical information (and asset management can be a mission-critical function) into a cloud managed by an outside interest are high.
    M Wagner
    Reply Vote I'm for Not
  • Cloud cannot be stopped

    Until you've worked for a small organization or a mid sized organization and seen the cost of a server rack's ups going out or the slow downs to users in other parts of the country you cannot comprehend the value of the cloud. Furthermore, everyone is getting sourced in one way or another. Sourcing is far easier for organizations when they adopt a cloud strategy.
    Reply Vote I'm for Cloud
    • Right... because it takes a genius...

      To put in redundant power. :rolleyes:
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Cloud

    "The Cloud" is just a variation of client-server networks that have been around for some time. The major difference is who owns the servers. But it does not change who is ultimately responsible for data and data security. It is not an external cloud vendor who is ultimately responsible but the originator of the data.

    The cloud does have uses but one should not blind oneself to one's responsibilities and real needs.

    Another issue with "The Cloud" is ultimately who is really benefiting - the company or the cloud vendor. Many of the "solutions" seem to primarily benefit the cloud vendor not the company particularly in the longer term.
    Reply Vote I'm for Not
  • these debates are so hopeless

    letting people vote before the full debate is concluded simply polls for existing biases.

    One of the stupider aspects of ZDNet.
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • The argument for a hybrid model

    Unfortunately, there is no simple yes or no answer to whether your SAM solution should be hosted in the cloud. What’s right for one organization will not be right for the next. Here are some initial thoughts on the main considerations around how to manage SAM and whether this should lead organizations toward or away from the cloud.

    What’s in the cloud?
    Most organizations involved in SAM today either use an on-premise solution, where the administration and reporting consoles, and the main repository are all located within the corporate network, or contract a managed service where a third-party takes responsibility for much of the data collection, processing and preparation of reports. In the latter case, the customer usually accesses these management reports through a web browser – and so, in some ways, will view this as a Cloud-based service (regardless of whether the service provider is hosting the infrastructure in their own datacenter or in the cloud).

    In the managed service example, providing there is trust in the model, the customer doesn’t really care whether the data is on-site or in the cloud (obvious exceptions to this include military, police, healthcare etc).

    For organizations managing their own SAM program, they may want to consider alternative models to investing in the necessary infrastructure to host the SAM applications and repository(ies).

    Why Cloud?
    Most organisations outsource their SAM programs, because they lack the internal skills and leadership required to protect, control and maintain the company’s software assets . Outsourcing this task, therefore, is the most reliable and cost effective way of fast-tracking the organisation’s SAM objectives. Combining a third parties qualified software license specialists with an associated cloud based business tool is very appealing to many senior managers, therefore, SAM in the cloud is a serious option for many companies.

    How big is your SAM?
    For most organizations, SAM is not a major consumer of processing power or storage space (or, at least, it shouldn’t be!). As such, the arguments to put SAM into the cloud on these principles are somewhat weak. There are other solutions that will no doubt provide bigger savings or productivity gains to the organization by being moved to a cloud-based infrastructure. In fact, certain elements of SAM such as inventory collection and application deployment are likely to consume more bandwidth and resources in the cloud than they do if present within the corporate network. Inventory solutions, for example, can be difficult enough to configure when audits are being reported within the same domain – reporting up to the cloud will present a number of additional challenges which may well outweigh any supposed gains.

    The argument for a hybrid model
    Rather than choosing just on-site or just cloud based SAM, there is an argument for organizations to pick and choose the model that best suits the individual components of their SAM program (after all, many organizations will use multiple tools to cover inventory, license management, application deployment, reporting etc.). Given that many organizations lack the in-house skills to interrogate and interpret licensing data, this is an example of where the in-house collection of data could then be hosted off-site (potentially in the cloud) and worked on by third-party SAM experts to provide effective guidance and management reports on how the organization can optimize both existing entitlements and make better purchasing decisions.
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Does you SAM belong in the clouds

    Well, if you're talking Surface to Air Missles, I suppose yes.

    It's where jets work best, or so I've heard.
    William Farrel
    Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
    • Now that...

      Was funny.
      Royce Cannon
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided