The focus was education for the recent IBSMA SAM Summit in Chicago. The content was strictly software asset management, in a relatively intimate setting (the number of attendees is limited). And not all sessions are open to the vendors, so end-users are given a chance to interact and exchange amongst each other in a vendor-free setting. On the other hand, IBSMA allows only a select number of sponsors/exhibitors so that each vendor stands out. For end-users looking to purchase a tool or service, the SAM Summit isn’t going to be the best choice.
From May 29 – 31 for a total of 2.5 days a good mix of consultants, vendors, and end-users held, visited, and participated in 35 sessions, which were held at the University of Chicago conference facilities in the heart of Chicago. The location was easy to reach (hotels for all budget ranges within walking distance), the food was good, and the networking dynamic with long lunch breaks, and an evening program consisting of a reception in the exhibition hall at the end of day 1 and a family style dinner at Buca di Beppo at the close of day 2.
One of the summit’s major themes was roundtables where vendors, consultants, and end-users were invited to answer questions on audits, specific publishers, licensing, vendor management, tools, and more. Quite a few open discussions started in the roundtables, which was great for everyone involved. A couple things that stuck out in mind were:
In first roundtable of summit (at the end of Day 1), ‘What’s New in SAM and License Management Tools’ the event sponsors were asked a series of questions and I felt one in particular set the tone for the rest of the event: Is SAM a $2 billion business? The answer is yes, considering the amount of revenue generated by audits. The fact that this question was even asked is a sign that SAM no longer means peanuts to IT shops. SAM may not be the “Cloud” or “Virtualization” or “Security” but its gaining a steady air of importance.
Towards the end of the session an interesting discussion started about the time and effort that goes into mapping software inventory data and whether or not a verified inventory tool, such as those verified by Oracle LMS, speed up the audit process. The census was mixed, while individuals from KMPG and Deloitte in the audience said that they don’t trust any data by default when conducting audits.
At the end of day 2 the ‘Practitioner Perspectives on SAM’ roundtable sparked a couple dialogues about accountability and data quality. The panelists were from Marriott International, Liberty Mutual, KLM, and ITT Exelis and it was interesting to learn where the different companies had placed SAM. While the majority considered their SAM departments somewhat related to IT, there was crossover in every case with another department: finance, legal, purchasing, or contract management. In one case the CFO was the sponsor and SAM was placed under IT and procurement.
The presentation by Charlie Betz, the research director at Enterprise Management Associates, was a highlight as it touched on all aspects of SAM from tools to software licensing and the cloud. It was interesting to see how the audience split after Charlie told an anecdote from the cloud about one company: At the beginning of the month, one of the developers stood up a new application in the cloud that used a lot of CPU and storage, and he accidently left it on. The lab costs that month were 10 times higher. The question was if this is a SAM problem, in other words, who’s responsible for setting limits in the cloud environment and making sure the limits are followed? Some attendees said it was a SAM problem, other said it was an end-user problem. What’s your take and, if it’s a SAM problem, how would you set and manage the limit?
Not surprisingly there were a number of sessions dedicated to audits (Oracle, IBM, Microsoft) and managing your software vendors and agreements. These tracks are important, offer useful advice, and a good place to start if you are new. Representatives from Oracle and IBM attended the summit, which enabled attendees to address their questions/concerns/ideas personally. But, for the more experienced software asset manager or someone who has a few SAM events under his belt, these sessions start to become standard—albeit necessary sessions for any well-rounded event.
There were three case studies presented, and I was glad to see each one had a different twist: uniting SAM with the purchasing and financial departments at the University of St. Thomas, starting out SAM at KLM, and the project for an international roll-out at BMW Group.
I have to say the value of all presentations, and really of an event, depends greatly on the speakers. (This is not to say that other factors do not play a role.) A presentation can be full of valuable information, but if the speaker is unsure, quiet, or uninteresting (=monotone) it can be hard to hear the useful pieces and keep your attention span in check. Even a dreadful topic can become good if the presenter knows what he’s doing. With the exception of only a few, the overwhelming majority of presenters at the SAM Summit were knowledgeable and talented speakers.