How to Mitigate Business Risk Using SAM and SLM Tools

Most companies understand the risks associated with disaster recovery and business continuity and plan accordingly. Few can say the same thing about the software they own -- or don't own, as the case may be. That's where software asset management and software license management tools can make a difference.

By Earl Follis and Ed Tittel
Wed, December 18, 2013

CIO — Superstorm Sandy, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant near-meltdown and ongoing regional natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan all wreak havoc with the capability of many affected companies — thousands, if not more — to continue business operations.

We define business risk as any event or activity that threatens the capability of a company to concentrate on its primary goal of generating revenue. There's also business risk from unexpected or unbudgeted costs to a company owing to improper management or monitoring of the software running in an enterprise. Do you recognize that there may be significant business risks to your company lurking in your IT operations, even as you take the time to read this article?

Business risk is what organizations continually work to mitigate via disaster recovery or business continuity plans — and rightfully so. But a company may also be exposed to elevated business risks owing to two frequently overlooked issues: Software asset management (SAM) and software license management (SLM). Let's take a look at the how your organization can mitigate business risk using SAM and SLM.

Managing Software Assets: Know What Users Have Installed

Managing software assets is often treated as an afterthought in many enterprise IT organizations. Mismanagement of software assets is often thought of as a low-priority, "victimless" action — that is, a task that doesn't directly impact your company or its business. No one calls and complains if you haven't run a software inventory scan in the last week or month or year.

Yet improperly managing software assets exposes the company to considerable business risk simply because of the likelihood that your users may run unapproved software on the company computers they use to perform their jobs. Unapproved software installed or running in an enterprise can produce numerous detrimental effects:

  • Exposing the company to copyright lawsuits and fines if software isn't properly licensed
  • Increasing the hardware budget for upgrades arising from contention for disk space, processor and/or RAM resources
  • Increasing support costs and the general complexity of the computing environment
  • Introducing security exposures thanks to unapproved software that may conflict with approved software or contain viruses
  • Causing corporate compliance issues or outright financial liabilities from use of unauthorized software

A comprehensive, automated SAM tool can mitigate all of these potential risks. SAM tools perform regular, automated scans of all corporate computing resources, looking for approved and unapproved software installations. The output of a SAM tool includes a listing and inventory count of all instances of approved corporate software, as well as any instances of unapproved software.

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