Software Asset Management (SAM) is now an integral part of a well-run organisation, assisting in reducing costs and risks associated to the use of software products. Up to now, it has been perceived that SAM is a framework that only controls the compliance requirements of software deployed on a company’s network and is not required when the company has migrated to Cloud based computing. Unfortunately, this is far from the case, as SAM does not differentiate between on and off premise usage, but recognises the complex rules required to manage both environments effectively.

Don’t get me wrong, cloud based computing does solve some licensing compliance challenges, however, there is no doubt, it also creates its own. Cloud environments can be provisioned and accessed in minutes, therefore, it is prone to significant risk caused by end users bypassing traditional procurement and deployment rules, ultimately leading to software usage being over distributed or abused. In addition, with limited access to usage information, many organisations over-subscribe to services which results in licensing costs spiralling out of control.

SAM, therefore, needs to quickly adapt and manage these new risks ensuring total cost of ownership is effectively monitored and controlled. Organisations should be quick to monitor and control issues such as sharing user accounts, unauthorised users’ (i.e. contractors and customers) access and over paying for services that are not used or required. In addition other technical advancements, such as bring your own device (BYOD), will need to be included in the SAM scope, ensuring that access to Cloud services via tablet or other mobile devices is effectively tracked and licensed correctly.

SAM must also consider liability generated from the environments in which the Cloud services are delivered, ensuring that the licensing implications have been fully considered. Many Cloud based solutions require the organisation to subscribe to the underlying infrastructure required to deliver the Cloud service, with costs being calculated based on the hardware consumed (i.e. processor, virtual processor, cores). SAM controls, therefore, need to be introduced to monitor this usage, alerting the company to any automatic increase in capacity requirements. Without monitoring this usage, the organisation could be exposed to significant un-budgeted cost implications.

With most vendors now offering hybrid software license agreements, allowing organisations to have a mixture of on premise and online services, the need and complexity of managing the organisation’s compliance has significantly increased. This increase in complexity must be managed and controlled, if not, it is highly likely that your organisation will become financially exposed and the multiple benefits that you were trying to recognise by migrating to Cloud could become overpowered by the risks generated through misuse and oversubscription.

SAM is an integral part of your transition to the cloud and the benefits far exceed the costs of implementing the processes required to monitor and control the provisioning of such services. Without it, you will simple spend more and lose control of who and how the services are being accessed.