Ask any IT manager – Software Asset Management (SAM) is one of the most challenging elements of the job. It’s no wonder because of the complexity of technology, data management, cloud solutions, and mobile computing solutions continue to evolve faster than anyone can keep up.

I recently had the good fortune of taking Microsoft’s SAM MCP exam. The program teaches 10 key SAM competencies that help drive an organization toward a complete end-to-end SAM program as defined within the ISO/IEC 19770-1.

Here’s a table from Microsoft’s SAM Optimization Model Brochure:

ISO 19770-1 categoryKey competencyCompetency question
Organizational managementSAM throughout organizationHow has SAM (with documented procedures, roles, responsibilities and executive sponsorship) been implemented in each infrastructure group?
 SAM improvement planDoes your organization have an approved SAM improvement plan?
SAM inventory processesHardware and software inventoryWhat percentage of user PCs and servers are included in a centralized software inventory/CMDB (configuration management database); which is populated by a software tracking tool?
 Accuracy of inventoryHow often do you reconcile software inventories with other sources to verify the accuracy of assumed license metrics (for example, user counts based on HR employee records)?
SAM verification processesLicense entitlement recordsWhat percentage of procured software licenses are recorded in a license entitlement inventory (a central repository/tracking of all licenses owned and/or previously acquired)?
 Periodic evaluationHow often do you reconcile software deployments (usage) to software entitlements (purchases)? Software entitlements are software licenses owned or previously acquired.
Operations management and interfacesOperations management records interfacesHow do the various Operations Management functions (contracts, financial fixed assets, service support, security, networking) use software and hardware inventories in their daily roles?
Lifecycle process interfacesAcquisition processWhat percentage of total software purchases in your organization are made through or are controlled and tracked by centralized procurement?
 Deployment processWhat percentage of total software deployed across the organization’s PCs and servers (considering all operating systems) is installed through centralized sources or a controlled distribution environment?
 Retirement processWhat percentage of retired hardware assets are tracked in a way to enable the software on them to be reused?

How well does your organization meet the 10 key competencies? Let’s look at a few areas in particular and examine how the Flexera’s FlexNet Manager Platform can help your organization optimize its SAM program.

Inventory Accuracy and Coverage

Microsoft defines the highest SAM optimization for hardware and software inventory as greater than 99% of assets. It is challenging to manage inventories when enterprises have various operating systems and software with specialized inventory requirements like Oracle databases and VMWare ESX/Vsphere. Even a tool like Microsoft’s SCCM that covers many operating systems cannot inventory Oracle databases.

FlexNet Manager can inventory all the operating systems covered by SCCM, plus systems like Oracle databases, VMWare Vsphere and ESX servers. FlexNet Manager is flexible and can stand alone or work in conjunction with SCCM to manage areas SCCM doesn’t. Its inventory agents cover Microsoft Windows, HPUX, Solaris, Linux, AIX and Mac. The system works with several virtualization technologies like VMWare, HyperV, nPar and lPar. It can integrate with other tools out of the box such as Hewlett Packard’s HPUD, IBM’s ILMT and Microsoft’s SCCM. It all adds up to broad coverage and a decent chance to achieve near 100% coverage of your software and hardware assets.

Plus, FlexNet Manager inventory agents can be automatically deployed and the inventory agent collection schedule can be managed from the central server and set to inventory as frequently as every day. You’ll have a very accurate picture of the enterprise software and hardware assets at any time.

Verification of entitlements

One of the challenges of any SAM program is compiling entitlement data and then somehow getting that information into a SAM tool for processing. With FlexNet Manager you can enter entitlement information a few ways. The most generic way is to key in data from the web-based GUI. However, any SAM tool does that. The next choice is to fill out spreadsheets with a predefined format and import it. FlexNet Manager also has the ability to read in Microsoft-specific MLS data and IBM’s Passport advantage data. Furthermore, FlexNet Manager will quickly convert the entitlement records into data that it can use to reconcile with inventory records to quickly generate a license position. By default, license positions are reconciled on a daily basis to give you a near real-time view into software usage compliance.

Operation management records

FlexNet Manager can also be used to manage financial and contract data for software and hardware assets. Contract managers, vendor managers, or accounting managers will then have the same central repository/view for software and hardware asset management as the rest of the organization. FlexNet Manager “business data adapters” easily allow you to develop adapters to import business data such as contracts, vendor, user, and asset information without having any programming skill.

Retirement process

When a hardware asset is marked for retirement in FlexNet Manager, the program automatically harvests all the software entitlements. Since the entitlements are reconciled nightly, they will be available for reassignment the very next day.

As you work through the competency assessment to optimize your SAM program, I think you’ll find that the FlexNet Manager Platform intersects perfectly with many of the necessary competencies. Is the time right to make FlexNet Manager a vital part of your end-to-end SAM program? Check out some of our case studies to learn more!