Rules Software Asset Managers Should Follow To Manage Cloud

By Mathias Knops

The next generation of ITAM brings both new opportunities and risks for Software Asset Management. Since Infrastructure as a Service (Azure and AWS), Software as a Service (Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud), Open Source software, and IoT each pose new challenges for organizations, it’s critical that Software Asset Managers take these 3 steps to prepare for upcoming cloud computing transitions.

Software Asset Managers should take these 3 steps to prepare for upcoming challenges from new cloud computing technologies such as IaaS (Azure and AWS), SaaS (Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud), Open Source, and IoT.

Cloud computing may be the hottest buzz word in town, but we all need to take a deep breath and chill.

I realize that my attitude may sound a bit relaxed, but I don’t say this because these topics aren’t important; they’re just hardly new. “Been there, done that” one could say. It all depends on whether you’re focused on buzz words or the underlying methodology.

Where IoT is today’s news, the cloud was yesterday’s hype.

Software Asset Management as a foundation

The basic rules of Software Asset Management are the same whether you’re on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment. You need to know what you have, and you need to know what you need. So, let’s take a deep breath and review:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Named User license models that we’ve known for decades: SAP Named User, IBM Cognos, Citrix/Autodesk Concurrent User, etc.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Scenarios in which you used to rent hardware like HP, Dell, Fujitsu etc., but were still in charge of the licensing.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Provider scenarios that large organizations have known for years.
What about the Internet of Things (IoT)?

If you apply the same approach to IoT devices, Open Source software, and Containers you’ll see that the we can adapt what we already understand – and are already doing in SAM – to these “new” challenges.

  • IoT devices – Generally, every device that can cause a software usage right demand is relevant for SAM. It doesn’t matter whether this is a computer, a mobile device or a smart fridge. A Software Asset Manager must know these devices, understand the soft-ware they might be carrying, and whether specific rules apply. Cisco software on net-work infrastructure components is a good example. The challenge is to gain the necessary transparency – the same challenge we always faced with in-homogeneous and distributed environments.
  • Open Source software – This has been around for as long as IT has existed. It’s not a problem, because it’s free, right? Wrong! The EULAs of Open Source products are manifold. Oftentimes it’s stated that one can use and alter the source code of a piece of soft-ware, but then one is obligated to publish the altered version of that code. Violation can cause significant fines. As a SAM Manager, it’s your job to stay on top of the utilization of Open Source software.
  • Containers – The challenge with containers is mainly the dynamic. Oversimplified, it’s a mini virtual machine running one application. So, the challenge here is a lot like spinning VMs up and down, but just on a smaller scale. Where a proper discovery solution had to pick up the existence of a VM, followed by inventorying it, it is now important to realize when and where containers exist and what software they are indeed “containing”.
3 Rules for Software Asset Management in the Digital Era 

Overall, there are 3 steps a Software Asset Manager should consider for cloud software asset management:

  1. Make sure that you have adequate scanning/discovery technology or IT asset management tool in place that supports the increasing number of scenarios and platforms
  2. Check for specific license terms and conditions in case software products are being used on such platforms
  3. Try to find common denominators with scenarios you already know and plait the new technologies into your existing software license management

About the Author

Mathias Knops is the Chief Operating Officer at Aspera.