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Microsoft's competencies and the SAM effect

Microsoft has retired partner 12 competencies – what does it mean for you?

Microsoft sign on a building

It’s been a couple of months since Microsoft retired 12 of its partner competencies. The impact of this has not been highly visible, but the news certainly helps to support the true definition of Software Asset Management (SAM). So let’s take a look at why.

The impact for you as channel partners should be minimal. Not because SAM isn’t important…just the opposite. SAM is a highly valuable service, but it should be vendor neutral. Many of you will be looking at SAM outside of the vendor solutions anyway, so this is just confirmation of the neutrality of SAM. No single software vendor can lay claim to defining or owning SAM as a competency; by definition it is the process and control of your software assets covering all software usage.

Microsoft, in the same way as every other software vendor, is primarily concerned with getting as much of their technology deployed and subsequently paid for as they possibly can. They will evolve their methodology of how the IP is consumed but rest assured they will need to get paid for it down the line!

For your customers, we feel there is a greater benefit to be had.

Vendor controlled ‘SAM’ has led to a mis-interpretation of what software asset management actually is. It’s not an ‘audit-lite’ tool – it shouldn’t be used to fill in the gaps between formal audits. Many vendors push the competency around SAM for compliance, but it's so much more valuable to your clients.

SAM helps to manage licence assets on a daily and weekly basis. That empowers the optimisation of IT resources and reduction of costs. It also mitigates the risks of over-use against your licences. This is the value of SAM and something that has sometimes got obscured along the way.

This full appreciation of what software asset management can help get closer to clients because you're offering more value to them? (doesn’t read correctly). Especially as the notion of 'software' changes. Two important shifts that continue in business will push this re-definition: cloud and mobile.

It’s a complete myth that Software-as-a-Service doesn’t require SAM. While there is less need to manage compliance in a cloud scenario, there is perhaps an even greater need for the optimisation that comes as a result of effective software asset management. It’s the same coin, viewed from the other side.

Mobile apps are the other area where licensing needs to be kept in check. Mobile devices are increasingly deposable and difficult to manage. They need to be integrated into the IT strategy to ensure licensing risk is kept in check. More than 30 percent of applications on the mobile device in the UK today are used to run the business and can hold corporate data – and this number increases every day

This evolution of technology usage and infrastructure is something that affects all companies. Microsoft is a highly regarded vendor for its transparency and work with customers to help compliance. We’re not suggesting anything sinister on its part, simply that this points to a bigger trend, and this move by Microsoft is purely validation in our view.

There are increasing opportunities to generate revenue with SAM technology as a consultant to your clients. The proposition just looks a little different now than it did with vendor-specific tools.

Allen Manville is alliances and business development director at Snow Software

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