Note: Learn about the future of ITAM and SAM tools in the era of SaaS.
When it comes to keeping track of IT “stuff,” three things come to mind:
These acronyms each fulfill a unique role based on their purpose. They also have their own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we will evaluate the differences between these three, consider who would benefit from them, and which route is your best path forward.
Software Asset Management (SAM)
Software Asset Management (SAM) is a software system that serves as the authoritative source for information related to an organization’s software licenses and usage. The primary purpose of this management tool is to track software licenses and ensure compliance with licensing agreements. SAM systems also help organizations optimize their software usage and reduce costs.
IT Asset Management (ITAM)
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a confusing topic because it can refer to both a tool or piece of software, as well as a set of practices and processes. For the sake of this article, though, we will focus on the software. ITAMs attempt to track and monitor the lifecycle of all IT assets, including hardware and software; from procurement to renewal to disposal. The primary purpose of ITAM is to ensure that IT assets are utilized effectively and that companies get the best value from their assets.
SaaS Management Platform (SMP)
SaaS Management Platforms (SMP) are tools used to manage an organization’s use of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and vendors. The primary purpose of SMPs is to provide visibility into SaaS usage and spending, allowing organizations to optimize their SaaS usage, automate important tasks, reduce license costs, improve license management, and ensure compliance with security and data privacy policies. SMPs also help organizations manage user access to SaaS applications and simplify user onboarding and offboarding.
Learn more about SaaS Management Platforms in the Gartner 2022 Market Guide for SMPs
The Strengths of Each Tool
IT Asset Management (ITAM) has several strengths, including:
Comprehensive management of all IT assets: ITAM covers all IT assets, including hardware, software, and other IT assets, ensuring that all assets are managed, provisioned, and deprovisioned effectively and efficiently.
Improved utilization and optimization of IT assets: ITAM helps organizations optimize their IT asset usage, improving their efficiency and effectiveness.
Cost reduction: By optimizing IT asset usage and managing asset lifecycles, ITAM can help organizations reduce costs.
SAM Tools have several strengths, including:
Compliance: SAM systems help organizations ensure compliance with software licensing agreements, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated costs.
Cost optimization: By tracking software usage, SAM systems can help organizations optimize their software usage, reducing costs associated with unused or underutilized software licenses.
Risk reduction: By ensuring compliance and optimizing software usage, SAM systems can help organizations reduce the risk of security breaches and other software-related risks.
SaaS Management Platforms (SMP) have several strengths, including:
Visibility and control: SMPs provide visibility into SaaS usage and spending, allowing organizations to manage their SaaS apps effectively and efficiently. By leveraging integrations and automation, users see significant ROI.
Cost reduction: By optimizing SaaS usage and managing user access, SMPs can help organizations reduce SaaS costs.
Security and compliance: SMPs help organizations ensure compliance with security and data privacy policies, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security-related risks.
The Weaknesses of Each Tool
IT Asset Management (ITAM) has several weaknesses, including:
Complexity: ITAM can be complex and time-consuming to implement and manage, requiring significant resources and expertise.
Limited scope: While ITAM covers all IT assets, it may not provide detailed insights into specific asset categories.
System of Record (SAM) has several weaknesses, including:
Limited focus: SAM systems focus exclusively on software licensing and usage, providing limited insights into other IT assets.
High cost: SAM systems can be expensive to implement and maintain, requiring significant resources and expertise.
SaaS Management Platforms (SMP) have several weaknesses,
Limited focus: SMPs are admittedly focused on cloud applications. As a result, they are limited in their ability to track and manage on-premise software, which means that organizations with hybrid environments may need to use additional tools to manage their entire software landscape.
Which is Right For You?
In the era of SaaS, organizations must choose between three main types of tools to manage their IT assets: IT Asset Management (ITAM), Software Asset Management (SAM), and SaaS Management Platforms (SMP). Each tool has its unique purpose, strengths, and weaknesses.
ITAM focuses on tracking and monitoring the lifecycle of all IT assets, ensuring effective utilization and cost reduction. However, it can be complex to implement and may not provide detailed insights into specific asset categories. SAM serves as an authoritative source for information related to an organization’s software licenses and usage, helping ensure compliance and optimize costs. Yet, it has a limited focus on software and can be expensive to maintain. Lastly, SMPs provide visibility into SaaS usage and spending, optimizing usage and enhancing security and compliance. Their main limitation is their focus on cloud applications, which may require additional tools for organizations with hybrid environments.
Choosing the right tool depends on an organization’s needs and environment. SAM systems are ideal for ensuring compliance and cost optimization, while ITAM offers comprehensive management of all IT assets. SMPs are best suited for organizations heavily reliant on cloud-based applications, providing visibility, control, and cost reduction.