Cloud-based software asset management has a future

Despite my the loss of my arguments in the Great Debate series on this topic, I think that those who embrace cloud-based SAM will win.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Cloud-based software asset management (SAM) might have lost the Great Debate, but the truth is that it wins the real argument for the future of SAM. SAM, in case you don't know, is the license wrangling software that many medium and large companies use to track licenses and meter usage. But it's much more than that, or can be. In its extended form, it is also a way to deploy applications, patches, updates, and full operating systems to devices. SAM isn't going away. Cloud isn't going away. As more software companies migrate their applications and operating systems to the cloud, you'll see cloud-based SAM take hold. It will have to. But until then, there's still a strong argument for cloud-based SAM.

The argument is in deployment.

As just about anyone in IT can tell you, operating systems and applications have grown exponentially over the years to the point where broadband is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. We used to think that downloading a 600MB ISO image was a major, day-long ordeal. But now, there are 4GB ISO images and multiple DVD images for some application suites. Patch payloads can reach the gigabyte level. Network bandwidth is at an all-time high usage level, so much so that some companies have segregated their networks into Production, Backup/Recovery, and Maintenance. Maintenance is the network where IT lives. Patch distribution, operating system deployments, security updates, downloads, and system administration.

Cloud-based SAM doesn't minimize application or operating system bloat, but what it does is leverage the internet's bandwidth for delivery, monitoring, and metering. Think of your own workplace. If yours is a geographically diverse workplace, as mine is, you'll understand why cloud-based SAM is almost a requirement. I say "almost" because it is still possible to perform these functions via VPN connectivity when users connect their devices to the corporate network. It isn't efficient, but it does work.

The more clever way to setup SAM for a diversely located worker population is to place the software asset management system in the public cloud space, and allow the processes to take place via user's personal bandwidth. It's kind of an extension of BYOD, but in this case, it's BYOB, where the "B" is bandwidth.

By using an employee's personal bandwidth for that "last mile" leg of the delivery process, the corporate network's bandwidth, even on a segregated network, remains available for monitoring, operating system delivery, server patching, administration, and other required maintenance activities. 

Cloud-based SAM will be most effective with user devices, which will always outnumber datacentered ones. User devices burn up the bandwidth due to the sheer numbers of them. 

So you see now that cloud-based SAM isn't some pariah waiting in the wings to strike back at you; it's the future of delivery, monitoring, patching, and maintenance of user devices, and probably a lot of servers as well. 

I'm not sure exactly what the fear or anxiety over cloud-based services is. It's astonishing to me that IT people are so fearful of cloud computing, especially public cloud offerings, that the cloud has been demonized — demonized to the point of being a FUD monster. 

Security is always the biggest fear when talking about public cloud, and it is an issue. I'm not minimizing the importance of it, but not using public cloud is like saying driving a car is too dangerous since there's a fatal car crash every 10 seconds in the US.

Time will show that my argument in the debate is the correct one, because SAM and cloud computing are a match made in IT heaven.

What do you think of cloud-based SAM? Good idea or bad omen? Talk back and let me know.

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