The status of SAM: the vision of Otto Sleeking

SAM interviews

Software is becoming increasingly important to organizations and therefore managing software is as well. How do organizations cope with this? And how is software asset management (SAM) perceived by people with different job roles and responsibilities? To map out where SAM stands in 2018, over the next few months professionals from the field will take turns discussing this topic. In this article: Otto Sleeking, IT lawyer at Taylor Wessing.

Otto, what can you tell us about your role and your work?

I work as an IT lawyer at Taylor Wessing. I previously worked for over 13 years as an IT lawyer at Kennedy Van Der Laan. Taylor Wessing is an international firm with offices in the Netherlands since 2015 and a strong reputation in the field of IT law. In the Netherlands a team of 18 people focus on intellectual property, privacy and IT. My role is quite broad: I draw up license contracts, supervise IT projects, advise on new technology and support clients during software audits.

Do you also experience that the number of audits from software vendors has increased in recent years?

Definitely. In recent years we have seen an increase in audits at clients and we encounter Oracle, SAP and VMware the most. Especially with Oracle and SAP, it seems to have become part of their business model to generate more revenue through audits. Nine times out of ten such an audit ends up with the discovery that too few licenses have been purchased, followed by a commercial proposal.

As an organization and a customer of the software, you have, above all, the task to have a good overview of the acquired licenses and their usage throughout the organization. This ensures that you are less likely to encounter surprises during an audit and that you are stronger in the negotiations that may follow with the vendor.

Have organizations become more aware of the importance of software compliance and software asset management in recent years?

What I see is that companies are much more aware of the software asset management challenges after going through an audit process. If software compliance was not on the radar before, it certainly is afterwards. Furthermore, there is of course a big difference between large and small organizations. For example, large multinationals have their own SAM department, sometimes with dozens of employees, while small organizations often only have a few employees dealing with SAM, in addition to all sorts of other tasks in their portfolio, and without any specific licensing expertise.

Large companies are faced with audits more regularly: the larger the organization, the greater the chance that there is a big difference between the purchased licenses and their deployment. Especially with enterprise software deals that have been contracted long ago.

Multinationals now know the importance of software compliance and software asset management. Often, they also agree a maximum number of audits with the software vendor, for example every two years.

Smaller organizations often do not have these agreements and panic when they receive an audit request. However, I expect that these companies will also organize their software asset management in a more professional way in the coming years, supported by external specialists.

Will the rise of SaaS and cloud services affect the SAM discipline?

Certainly, if only because with SaaS audits are usually not needed anymore as the software is not installed locally – this gives the software vendor better insight into the number of users. Another difference is that fewer contract negotiations take place, because both the service and the conditions are standardized in most cases. Only large organizations have sufficient leverage to be able to negotiate such deals.

Furthermore, I think that the competition between suppliers will only increase thanks to SaaS and that is positive. As the services are standardized and there are more services and providers, organizations can switch more easily. As a result, I expect suppliers will do their best to keep their customers happy.

This article was also published on Computable.

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This article was published on 22-01-2019