Inside IASP: IBM’s New Approach to SAM & Software Compliance

Software asset management (SAM) has been around for decades, but the discipline is gaining newfound prominence and sophistication. New tools, expert providers, and industry professionals are emerging by the day. By 2022, the market is expected to be worth $2.32 billion, after compounding at a yearly rate of nearly 15%.

What’s behind the momentum ? Companies rely on technology vendors to power their business and fuel growth. But the difficulty of managing a company’s software estate has steadily increased. IT teams are up against complex licensing terms and conditions, frequent software audits, from multiple software publishers and the cyber risks posed by unlicensed software usage at their organization. SAM has been proven to address many of these challenges.

With the client in mind, and an objective to provide an alternative, IBM launched its IBM Authorized SAM Partner (IASP) initiative at the beginning of 2019, trailblazing an alternative for verifying license consumption with the goal of better serving business customers and improving client satisfaction.

BSA Verafirm spoke with IBM’s Worldwide Director of IASP, Sanjay K. Saxena, about the impetus behind the program and the vision to delight customers with this new approach to managing compliance.

Painless Software License Compliance

After listening to feedback from customers who underwent a software licensing review and understanding their requirements, IBM also began to understand the clients’ perspective, recognizing that software consumption verification reviews can be intrusive, disruptive and or cumbersome for the enterprise. In addition, the outcomes of such reviews can take a serious financial toll, with unbudgeted exposure potentially running into the millions of dollars. Sanjay recalls speaking to one client that had undergone twelve software audits from various software publishers between January and November of one calendar year. “It was every publisher’s playground for an audit,” Sanjay said.

IBM began to look for another way of verifying software consumption that would be more predictable and friendly for their customers. “Feedback from clients on licensing IBM software over hundreds of software acquisitions, combined with regular software audits, led to IBM creating an alternative that seems to have been well-received amongst the global client base. Early adoption rates have been a positive indicator” Sanjay said.

The IBM Authorized SAM Partner Program

Under the IASP, businesses select one of four SAM partners authorized by IBM (KPMG, Deloitte, EY, and Anglepoint) to proactively manage all IBM software assets across the enterprise. 

For large, complex organizations with many software publishers across their IT estate, there are four core benefits:

  1. Exemption from IBM software license audits during the period that a company chooses to remain under the SAM Managed Services of one of the four authorized SAM providers.
  2. Expert support for compliance with IBM’s sub-capacity licensing option, which allows organizations to “license a PVU-based software program for less than the full processor core capacity of the server, when the software program is deployed in an eligible virtualization environment.”
  3. Prospective license purchases at contractual prices.
  4. Access to the IBM license knowledge and expertise of the authorized SAM provider, leading to ongoing license optimization, better control, improved cyber security and better decision making.

Further, outsourcing SAM expertise helps with understanding licensing terms and conditions for all the software consumed by an enterprise, not only IBM software. By working with a trustworthy SAM partner, who has software asset management and ITAM Dimensions at the heart of their practice, organizations are able to introduce stronger processes and management across the entire company.

“There seems to be an inflection point in the marketplace, where clients are demanding more efficient options of verifying consumption of software and the publishers are actively looking at ways to satisfy that demand,” Sanjay said.

The Results

The IASP has been in place for over a year now, so how are early adopters responding? So far, IBM has received positive responses, with organizations highlighting the greater transparency, collaboration, and trust the program has brought to a process typically dominated by disruptive, surprise audits and ensuing fees that hurt the bottom line.

“The IASP program gave us the opportunity to document the facts and make forward business decisions based on fact,” said the director of software asset management at a global sports retailer. “Using IASP shows IBM’s willingness to be transparent with their customers (without direct involvement). Relationships are built on trust and our relationship with IBM has strengthened.”

The Importance of SAM Training and Certification

For now, IBM’s initiative is by invitation or client request only, but Sanjay sincerely hopes that it “will increase manifold in 2020 and beyond” with the goal of “delighting the client.” In the meantime, “all education around SAM certification is good,” says Sanjay.

Today, global standards exist to guide organizations in the implementation of software asset management, the gold standard being ISO 19770-1. Studies have shown that organizations can achieve as much as 30% savings in annual software costs by implementing a robust SAM and software license optimization program. Crucially, SAM reduces cyber risk, including the threat of malware. When asked to rank the top benefits of strong software license management and better software compliance, 54% of CIOs surveyed in BSA’s Global Software Survey listed lower security risks as the primary reason to ensure their software was fully licensed.

Whether members of your internal team or those at a SAM-as-a-service provider, skilled SAM leaders are able to deliver greater efficiency, mitigate risk, and ensure compliance in a constantly evolving IT environment. 

BSA Verafirm is proud to offer the only comprehensive training and certification program in the world aligned to the ISO 19770-1. “BSA Verafirm’s SAM Certification, as adherent to the latest ISO Standards, is an outstanding industry certification that should be of great interest to SAM practitioners, SAM advisories, SAM consulting houses and software publishers,” Sanjay said. “And, in my personal opinion, it is one of the most current and comprehensive course available.”

Interested in earning your certification or offering training to your team ? Learn more about our SAM Certification program and register here.

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