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%)

Closing Statements

How all software will be managed

Ken Hess

Cloud is more than a buzzword and it's certainly no passing fad. And cloud for Software Asset Management is not only a good idea, it's how all software will be managed in the near future. It only makes sense to move to a cloud model for SAM when major software services and "as a Service" offerings have already moved to the cloud.

Remember that SAM encompasses more than just tallying licenses. Although license sprawl prevention and compliance are significant aspects of it, it also has to do with patch management, operating system deployment and security. The cloud is the perfect location for that kind of distributed computing need. The more geographically diverse your user population is, the greater the need for cloud-based SAM. Locally installed and maintained SAM can no longer handle the load.

For all of the fault-finding that analysts do with the cloud, it's the best of all worlds from a technical standpoint for delivery, monitoring, metering and deployment.

Pick the tools that work best for you

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

While there's no doubt that Software Asset Management is a vital tool for any organization – large or small – that wants to effectively manage their software throughout its lifecycle.

The traditional way to keep track of software – from cradle to grave – was to use a locally-installed Software Asset Management tools, but with the increased interest in cloud service, companies no longer need to have the tools installed locally on their networks.

But does the cloud offer a better Software Asset Management compared to a locally-installed solution? My take on this is that we should not instantly dismiss local solutions in favor of cloud services just because the cloud is new and there's a lot of buzz surrounding it. Not only are there a number of excellent solutions out there that can be locally installed, but these might well suit your needs better than a cloud option.

Treat cloud services in the same way you treat any other software – do your research, take test drives, and then pick the tools that work best for you and your organization.

Today's best option for SAM

Jason Hiner

Ken and Adrian did a nice job of breaking down this topic and giving our readers solid guidance on making good decisions around Software Asset Management. Ken highlighted the advantages of scalability and handling device diversity that you get with cloud solutions and Adrian brought up the benefits of control, security, and flexibility that you get with traditional installed software.

However, even Ken acknowledged that fully cloud-based SAM is still a maturing solution and that the companies that are using cloud-based SAM are mixing it with traditional installed software. As a result, the best option for SAM still looks like having the control of installed software, but combining it with the power of the Internet to manage distributed devices and occasionally taking advantage of cloud-based management consoles. That will likely be the case as long as there's still plenty of traditional software in the enterprise to manage.

So, Adrian gets the nod.


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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