IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
From the ITIL website - "ITIL is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world."

In 2003 the ITIL best practice guide for Software Asset Management was published.

It is regarded as the last word in terms of providing the best approach to software asset management.

You can purchase the Guide and you can go on training courses specific to ITIL SAM.  Both will take you through, in great detail, what you need to do.

Look at ITIL SAM as the complete picture of the best SAM system you could build. 

Our advice? Don't try and emulate it in its entirety or you will grow old in the process and lose all your friends along the way.

The biggest difference between ITIL's approach to SAM and ours at SAMsource is that the majority of our approach can be implemented without a formal project being put in place.  There are parts that would benefit from senior management sponsorship, but it is not essential.

Also, ITIL maintain that successful SAM is dependent on the implementation of tools.

We do not completely disagree with this, but maintain that lots can be done to reduce costs and mitigate risks before tools become necessary.  The biggest obstacle to SAM is people thinking that the only way to do it is with a tool, not so.

For example, Reduce software costs is full of things that purchasing people can be doing as part of their day to day activities. These can be implemented today without clearance or funding from senior management and without the expense of implementing tools.

ISO/IEC 19770
This is the ISO standard for SAM created by the International Organization for Standardization.

There are two parts to 19770:
  • Part 1 - Processes - published 2006
  • Part 2 - Software Tag - still not published (July 2008)

The processes of part 1 are largely based on the ITIL Best Practice guide to SAM

There is some change in language in certain areas, but otherwise the Standard is the qualification that any organisation can achieve if it wishes to be recognised for great SAM.

You can purchase Part 1 of the Standard from the ISO website.

Our advice?  Same as above.  The ISO standard is a valuable piece of work for organisations that want to go the whole hog.  We do not think that such a comprehensive approach is required in all but a few cases.

Hence why we have built SAMSource so that you have a source of practical unbiased advice discussing what works and what doesn't work and what will give you direct financial benefit.

Part 2 - The objective of Part 2 is to standardise the way that inventory tools identify installed software so that it can be linked to a future standard that will standardise licence entitlement of licences issued by publishers.

There are two big problems with pursuing this course of action.

1) Herding cats - The industry has been talking about this for at least 10 years if not more.  In theory it is a great idea, but in practice it appears to be nigh on impossible to get publishers to standardise the way they tag their software with the information required to make this work

You will see in The truth about audit tools that the biggest problem in defining a licence position with installed software is all about this gap (Mind the gap).

2) Always in the future? - Standardised tagging (tool identification) needs to be matched to an entitlement (the licence/contract).

The licence in your hand is a contract, it might have a history (upgrades/maintenance) it conveys rights that can be backdated (downgraded), there were deals at the time of purchase that expanded those rights (technology guarantees).

To capture all such information is of course possible, but until publishers start doing it there is nothing more to work with other than a human being intervening and matching the right licence to the right software installation.

3) Installed software is only part of the problem.  More and more software is becoming user based rather than install based, both online and off line.  Tools find it difficult (often impossible) to track users on their own networks let alone over the internet.

So a great deal of herding of cats might come to fruition in the future that will only ever deal with 50% of the problem.

ITIL ISO and SAMsource

Everything in SAMsource is based on ITIL and ISO 19770 processes.

We have changed the language where we feel there is an easier way to explain it and of course we have created our own structure which we believe is far easier to follow.

Now we take a quick look at SAM and service management....