Monday, October 19, 2009

SaaS Contracts - A function of Software Asset Management?

Earlier this month I spoke at the IAITAM conference in Nevada on the topic of Licensing Implications in the Cloud (Saas), it was a lively group and an interesting subject. However; the most interesting piece was the conversation it sparked about "Should Software Asset Management (SAM) be responsible for SaaS?".

For me the not so private laugh was the fact that several audience members asked the question right when we got to my slide asking the same question...always nice to have evidence that I do think like a SAM Manager! OK, thanks for sharing my pat on the back...

This is a topic we hear more frequently at our clients. Does subscription software such as SaaS belong under the SAM umbrella or does it belong elsewhere? Certainly businesses have used subscription software for a long time, and commonly it is not handled by IT but instead handled by the business unit that is using the service (think Payroll, HR services, etc).

I don't think there is a global answer for this, but I would urge companies to think about what's at stake if that subscription is suddenly no longer available. What happens if the provider goes out of business or the server hosting the service fails? These are examples of topics that belong in the contract signed for the service...but will a business unit necessarily think to negotiate these into the contract? How is the usage being tracked to ensure that the billing is accurate? Is the business unit going to track it or are they just going to pay the bills (start thinking telecom audit if you don't think subscription billings can be inaccurate)?

While subscription software services might not fall under the traditional SAM umbrella, it needs to fall under someone's umbrella and the SAM Manager is probably the best suited to take on the challenge.

Would love to hear other's thoughts on this...

2 comments:

Ilan said...

if the SAM/ITAM team isn't at least at the table for SaaS discussions then something is wrong with the thought processes of the organization. Perhaps accounting/payrool/HR would want to control their ADP personnel systems but the technical expertise has to come from the IT group and the licensing segment is the specific section that should be seated at the meeting during contract and other talks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does follow that it falls under asset management. Ask the question if it were a physical piece of equipment would you not have to keep record in the inventory (note i said inventory and not fixed asset registry)? A license even in the traditional sense is a right to use it is not ownership. So in a sense you are "renting" even if all the cost is upfront and for perpetuity. The only difference with the cloud is the time line for "rental" is fixed in my opinion.