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SaaS Asset Management: The Next Evolution of Software Asset Management

Alpin is now CoreSaaS.

Do any of these situations seem familiar?

  • There’s been a management shuffle in the top ranks, with a new focus on “innovation,” “agility,” being “leading edge” (or at least not trailing edge!), so out with the old and in with the new, meaning more cloud and more SaaS
  • You just did a merger or acquisition with another company, so now you have an audit bullseye painted on you, you have to solve the massive overlap between companies
  • You just went through layoffs, and the mandate is for all departments to cut costs ASAP
  • security breach led to a big review of IT, questioning the security of SaaS applications that are multiplying like rabbits
  • Microsoft is pushing hard to move you from on-prem to Azure and Office to O365, so you have to figure out how to manage cloud and SaaS
  • You’re actually in great shape with traditional SAM for downloaded software, but again with the rabbits — what about SaaS asset management?

In each case, traditional SAM just won’t cut it.

You need something more, something born and bred to deal with SaaS.

You need Alpin.

Alpin is SaaS Asset Management.

How Did Traditional Software Asset Management Evolve?

As Cynthia Farren describes, SAM has changed significantly over the decades:

  • 1980s: Desktop computers grew rapidly, drawing cost scrutiny. Contract terms such as volume tiers and usage rights were very restrictive. And industry groups like the Software Publishers Association and the Business Software Alliance formed to lobby governments and to attack software piracy among businesses and consumers
  • 1990s: Penalties and fees from vendor audits that unearthed improperly-licensed software led to a rapid rise in SAM programs. Organizations had to continue to invest in SAM to adapt to the rapidly-changing landscape of volume license programs and product use rights
  • 2000s: Cooling economies in the early 2000s led to widespread cost cutting requirements, including internal controls and associated jobs. As regulatory requirements increased in the latter half of the 200s, so too did general risk aversion, as well as software audits.

Over this period, the initial wave of SAM vendors was joined by new entrants, with the competition pushing forward more features and better functionality, and growth in the 2010s has been quite strong as lagging organizations moved away from running around with spreadsheets to using a SAM-specific tool. The SAM tools market was fast-growing, but with a mature product.And… Note that there was nothing for SaaS. SaaS didn’t even get a mention because there was so much to do with client and data center software.

The Rise of SaaS

That has changed, and we are now at the tipping point.SaaS matters, for several reasons:

  • It’s becoming the norm for new software purchases
    • SaaS growth is much faster than packaged and downloaded software
    • SaaS is now about 20% of all software spend
    • Does anyone think SaaS will start to lose share? No; you know where things are heading
  • It costs a lot
    • Any organization that starts using SaaS sees how quickly it grows, both in number of subscriptions, and number of users
    • That means there is always wasted spend that needs to be cut
    • License compliance is very different from packaged and downloaded software
  • It allows IT and business leaders to understand what people are actually doing
    • How many sales leads did that rep contact?
    • Did the customer support team respond quickly to service issues?
  • It opens up new security risks
    • Some of those risks are hard to even know about using traditional methods
    • SaaS often allows for instant deprovisioning and blocking — if the right SaaS management tool is present

SaaS Asset Management

The rise in SaaS needs to be met with a rise in capability to manage that SaaS. Legacy SAM tools are not up to the task. They are overly detailed and complex, often brittle (one of our customers has 2 FTEs dedicated to keeping their SAM tool running), and just plain don’t give enough information. SaaS asset management requires a tool that is designed from the ground up to be instant-on and installation-free, quick, easy — a true pleasure to use, and that provides the most useful and most actionable information to help SAM teams achieve results. A SaaS asset management tool should do the following:

  • Discovery
    • Showing who is using which apps
    • Showing subscriptions that are known, and those that are unknown — so easy for users to do with SaaS
  • Cost optimization
    • Cost cutting of wasted spend
    • License compliance and optimization
    • Renewal management
    • Showing the cost, down to the an individual user, all the way up to the total organization
  • Monitoring and alerting
    • Activity
      • Who is doing what, with an eye for critical activities?
      • Where is there duplication, under-use, non-use?
      • Archived over time, to allow for analysis and forensic investigations
    • Security
      • Alerts for risky behavior and dangerous permissions granted to third party applications
      • Blacklisting apps that are deemed unsafe so they simply can’t be installed
      • Deprovisioning apps and users

Alpin does all that, and more. But whether you use a SaaS asset management tool like Alpin, or establish a home-grown system with spreadsheets and a lot of running around, the time to actively manage your SaaS is now.