software asset management (SAM)

What is software asset management (SAM)?

Software asset management (SAM) is the administration of processes, policies and procedures that support the procurement, deployment, use, maintenance and disposal of software applications within an organization. SAM is the part of IT asset management that seeks to ensure an organization complies with license agreements and does not overspend on software.

Every SAM initiative's goal is to facilitate the discovery of software assets, ensure the validity of end user license agreements and validate the appropriate use of free software. SAM documentation can protect organizations from anti-piracy litigation, prevent the unintentional overuse of licenses and provide a control for shadow software on the network.

Software asset management teams

In large organizations, software asset management can require a team to create and maintain a database that stores information about software purchases, subscriptions, licenses and patches. Typically, a SAM team renews software licenses, negotiates new license agreements, and identifies and eliminates software that is rarely or never used. A SAM team might also be responsible for ensuring that SAM processes and procedures align with the COBIT framework or ITIL V3 service management system standards.

Using SAM tools

To automate how information is gathered from mobile, desktop, data center and cloud inventory sources, SAM software audits the number of software licenses purchased and reconciles that with the number of installed licenses. SAM tools can also keep track of the number of remaining licenses. This knowledge can be used to eliminate or reallocate software that is not being used to keep costs down.

Intelligent SAM tools can be helpful if an organization is part of a volume licensing program or wants to optimize how perpetual and subscription-based licenses are purchased. In addition to providing a federated view of raw software asset data, some SAM software products also have an intelligence layer capable of flagging specific criteria related to software licensing and application lifecycle management. Flagging enables SAM teams to proactively identify circumstances that can help cut costs. For example, the software could flag incidents in which licensing and support costs can be combined.

This was last updated in December 2022

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