Let me take you to a ‘SAM-journey’ that was started by my colleague Rudi Bissels, who in a previous blog described Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) in relation to Software Asset Management.
Blog Rudi Bissels: Your licenses and Cloud Service
In this blog we aim to discuss Software as a Service (SaaS) and particularly those questions that should be asked in relation to Software Asset Management.
SaaS – description and responsibilities
What is the position of SaaS and what does SaaS mean? According to Gartner the definition of Saas is as follows:
“…software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers… The provider delivers software … that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at anytime on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.” .
Examples of SaaS solutions are: time reporting, workflow management, e-mail, CRM, HRM, Finance, etc.
The diagram below shows who is responsible for which part of the infrastructure. As you can see, all is managed by your provider with SaaS. This means: “I pay my provider for my usage (usually subscription-based and per period)” and “and that’s it for me and I don’t have to worry about it anymore”, and “I don’t run any risks regarding my licenses and being compliant”…. Or do you?
It is a misunderstanding to think that SaaS is without license risks. In fact the risks you may run depend on your service provider and your specific contract agreements with this provider. But these risks also depend on the agreements between your service provider and her suppliers.
A number of questions you should ask yourself when purchasing a SaaS solution (in a random order of importance):
Does your provider make use of the intellectual property of a third party? And if so, how do they arrange this? Might it have legal consequences for you?
In what country or which countries is the service provider based? Do the same rules apply on the other side of the border?
Up to what level do you want to and can you depend on your SaaS solution and therefore on your service provider? And having asked yourself that: do you want to and can you make use of existing licenses and if so, what are the conditions? And what if you want to return to managing yourself? What software do you need to use the application? Is your Proof-of-License file ready for an audit? What are the consequences of unauthorised usage?
For example: when you have a complete department using one named user account. Do you know how much you need? And is the model that is offered to you flexible enough to host more users? And what about having fewer users, how can you lower the number without a penalty clause? This is usually bound to rules that allow a maximum number or percentage. Can you afford damage to your reputation when your service provider or her providers don’t keep themselves to the rules? Do you know if and how your service provider monitors your usage? Service providers create usage profiles to help them measure if the usage differs from the ‘standard’.
It’s important to answer these questions when you consider purchasing a SaaS solution and to have knowledge of contracts and rights of use (PUR, EULA, Terms & conditions), or an independent partner to give you advice. Furthermore it is important that the SAM tool (through cloud or on premises) provides you an insight in what software your organisation really needs. How else are you be able to decide if SaaS is the right solution for you? Gaining and maintaining Software Asset Management awareness are therefore key concepts to stay in control of your IT assets in general and your licenses in particular.