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The past, present and future of ITAM


Part 1: Software Asset Management’s (SAM) origins and the evolution of services

Livingstone Group recently joined The ITAM Review for an episode of its podcast to discuss ITAM, the cloud, and creating business value from ITAM. We covered everything from the origins of SAM, to the evolution of ITAM in the cloud era, to the (healthy) future of ITAM.

In Part 1 of this follow up blog series, I’ll take a look at SAM’s origins and the evolution of SAM and ITAM tools and managed services.

>> Listen to the full Podcast <<

A brief history of SAM

When I started in the software licensing industry some twenty years ago, the notion of Software Asset Management was barely a concept. Both in my experience in working for large publishers and in the channel, the aim was simple: sell as much product as possible, and neither salespeople nor customers had any clue as to whether what they were buying was fit for purpose. Both sides were building portfolios of service and software agreements with a huge gap of knowledge on deployments, licensing, and compliancy, amongst other things.

Slowly but surely however, SAM grew into its infancy as prototype SAM software ‘organiser’ companies with inventory data tools began to partner with publishers and resellers. These tools were the first real foray into SAM as we know it today and helped organisations work out what they actually had deployed. Customers soon began to realise that they could be more strategic in their software purchasing decisions.

And those experts – such as myself – who had experience in all aspects of licensing and software purchasing, and who had access to this burgeoning SAM space, identified an opportunity to help those customers make the most of their software agreements.

The addressable market at this time was enormous, with anyone that was using software from any large publisher likely in need of some SAM assistance. While services were rudimentary to begin with, and the likes of cutting a single ELP was something that was barely seen, the practices of cataloguing deployments, analysing cost saving opportunities, and identifying and mitigating risks are all the foundational aspects of SAM and ITAM as we know them today.

Indeed, while many things have changed in the SAM/ITAM space, these core principles of cost reduction, risk mitigation and estate efficiency at least remain the same.


How services have changed – from one-off to ongoing

At the beginning of SAM’s evolution, the aim was to help customers identify problem areas and provide guidance on how to resolve them. Customers had a tendency to call on SAM experts for support through negative experiences, on a one-off basis such as defending an audit.

The problem with this approach was that, once these big events had passed and the SAM team, having offered their recommendations on reducing risk and optimising costs, had gone their separate ways, the customer would inevitably return within the year with more risks and higher costs. A combination of not following the advice, or not being able to follow it as a result of insufficient resources and knowledge, the tactical, one-off approach was not a viable long-term solution for everyone and only served to highlight a customer’s issues. This is when SAM Managed Services grew in importance.

Indeed, even as software requirements and options grew ever greater in number, as the market matured, and as service providers became more sophisticated, having an ongoing service that could identify and prevent mistakes before they happened, rather than pointing them out after the fact, became key to ensuring optimisation, making cost savings and reducing risk.

Whilst this notion of SAM Managed Services took some time to come to fruition, particularly in the tool space where technology had some maturing to do, it was clear that SAM, and then ITAM, was growing in importance.

Even now, with the explosion in the cloud and subscription-based licensing arena, ITAM is becoming even more valuable to customers. Indeed, despite the many inroads the SAM/ITAM communities have made over the years, there still remains a huge number of organisations that have yet to make headway in the ITAM space and there remains significant opportunity to deliver solutions and give organisations the visibility and support that enable them to make better decisions.

You can tune in to the full episode here, and keep an eye out for part 2 of the blog series where we’ll take a look the ever-changing nature of SAM and ITAM in the cloud era.

To find out about how Livingstone can help your ITAM needs, please get in touch.


To find out more about Livingstone's Software Asset Management Managed Services, visit our SAM Service page or click on the contact us tab on the right hand side of this page.



Simon Leuty, Head of Pre-Sales and Co-Founder

Simon sits on the Executive Leadership Team as Head of Pre-Sales and is responsible for the development roadmap of our client portal Livingstone Hub.

He has over 15 years’ experience of the Software Asset Management and Cloud markets, working closely with our growing customer base to help them take control of their software and cloud cost. Simon helps to eliminate unacceptable spend and enforce tight governance standards that keep them compliant, agile and secure.

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