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How to mitigate business risk using SAM and SLM tools

Earl Follis and Ed Tittel | Dec. 19, 2013
Most companies understand the risks associated with disaster recovery and business continuity and plan accordingly. Few can say the same thing about the software they own -- or don't own, as the case may be. That's where software asset management and software license management tools can make a difference.

You can use the output of a SAM inventory to set a baseline for the quantity of each specific piece of software installed in your company. You can use this baseline, along with ongoing incremental expansion or retraction of installed software instances, to plan and predict future software requirements.

You can leverage your SAM tool to provide software compliance reports to executive management and your corporate or IT compliance officer. SAM tools also show you which versions of software are installed in your company - vital information when planning future software upgrades.

Many companies include a "no unauthorized software" warning as part of each user's network login script. Many companies also include a prohibition in employee handbooks and employment contracts against installing unauthorized software on corporate computers.

These warning statements can give your company the basis for removing unauthorized software from corporate computers, but you should discuss that issue with your corporate counsel before removing unauthorized software from user's computers. You may also leverage SAM uninstall capabilities to remove authorized software that's a version not supported by the company.

Why does software license management present such a big business risk to your company? The Business Software Alliance - the software industry's biggest licensing cop - estimates that piracy cost software companies more than $60 billion in 2012 alone. That's a ton of money that software companies would rather see in their coffers than lost to software pirates.

As a result, penalties for software piracy are fairly stiff. Here's where SLM can provide peace of mind and mitigation of business risk. Your company can avoid costly court battles and fines by properly and consistently monitoring and managing software licenses.

SLM tools provide a benefit similar to SAM for companies by documenting and tracking software license counts. As such, SLM is a natural companion to SAM tools; both are frequently bundled as an integrated solution. We strongly recommend that your SAM and SLM tools be integrated into a single, seamless tool to ensure that they communicate well with each other. Agent-based SAM and SLM tools should need only a single agent on each computer for both of these management tasks.

Most large IT organizations use enterprise licensing agreements for popular software. Knowing actual software license usage is critical to negotiating current and future software licensing agreements. SLM operates in much the same way as SAM tools by running regular, automated scans of all corporate computers to extract licensing info for each piece of software installed. This installation count can be compared to corporate licensing agreements to make sure they stay within your legal licensing limits.

Any time an SLM tool discovers unlicensed software installed on a user's computer, whether authorized or unauthorized, you must quickly resolve licensing issues as soon as they're discovered. SLM tools may have an intrinsic uninstall capability, or you may use your SAM tool to automagically uninstall unlicensed software without requiring user intervention or the involvement of support staff.


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