By Ed Tittel
Making best use of SAM software relies on your company choosing the right software to manage, optimize and control your software assets. You should also carefully consider not just where you are today but also where you and your company expect to be in the future. If you are currently managing software for 1,000 users but you can see that at your annual growth rate, you are likely to be managing software for 2,000 users in five years, you should choose SAM software that can accommodate that planned company growth. You don’t want to be forced to roll out a higher-capacity SAM tool in a year or two, because you’ve already outgrown your current one. That’s why choosing the right SAM software involves recognizing where you are today with managing your software assets but also where you want to be in one year, five years, and perhaps even ten years down the road.
As you consider SAM tools, you should first establish a budget and find a corporate sponsor. Next, you should decide whether you want to purchase a point product or an enterprise product, perhaps as part of a software lifecycle framework.
Point products are usually limited in scope to just core SAM capabilities and support only basic integration with other products. Enterprise and framework products typically deliver more advanced capabilities and can usually integrate easily with other lifecycle management tools from the same or other vendors. As you might have guessed, point products are cheaper and easier to purchase and deploy than enterprise SAM tools. Enterprise or framework SAM tools fit into a larger suite of complementary software and hardware management tools to enhance the value of the data the goes into and comes out of your SAM tool.
All SAM tools offer reporting but a framework-based SAM tool might automagically feed asset data into a configuration management database (CMDB). With cloud computing in such vogue, be sure that whichever tool you choose can monitor software assets and usage wherever they are: software installed locally on a user’s computer, software running on another device or platform—think mobile software used on a tablet or smartphone — and software running in the cloud. If your company virtualizes your computing resources, consider carefully your SAM tool’s ability to manage virtual software.
Deployment on Parade
Deploying most SAM tools requires you to install a management agent on each and every user’s computer in your organization. This can be a huge job, especially in a large company. One way to mitigate the effort required to deploy a SAM agent everywhere is to build that agent into your company’s standard desktop operating system (OS) images. You DO use standard OS and applications images to manage your users’ desktop configuration, don’t you?
Your computer vendor can assist you in implementing or updating your corporate desktop image and laptop image to include a SAM agent. As you deploy new computers or re-image old ones, the SAM agent will eventually proliferate across your organization. Any stragglers can be handled via a remote control sessions to install the SAM agent manually. You can also use an Active Directory Group Policy Object to force specific users to download that agent. Some SAM products use an agent-less technology to gather software inventory and usage statistics, but these tools typically have limitations that you must carefully consider before purchasing such a SAM solution.