Roel Decneut

The Software Asset Management (SAM) team at Microsoft is making sweeping changes to increase your customer’s value. As mentioned in a previous blog post, we recently rolled out the Intelligent Asset Manager 2018 (IAM 2018) to reduce licensing complexity and enable solutions through the development of a universal inventory standard.

Patama Chantaruck outlined Microsoft’s plans for reducing licensing complexity, and today I’ll give you some insights around the universal inventory standard—and why it’s a game changer.

The case for change

The SAM tools market has struggled to meet customer needs for two main reasons.

First, the business case has narrowly focused on licensing compliance, which doesn’t compel customers to use SAM tools in their asset management strategy. Few customers are using SAM tools or centralized processes and systems to track and manage their IT inventory. Software vendors, including Microsoft, contributed to this by focusing SAM efforts on licensing compliance, limiting the use case for SAM tools.

The second reason is a lack of market standards. There’s no universal model for industry-wide re-use. In the past, if a supplier developed a new capability, insight, or report, they sold it to the customer as a tool. Logically, each tool came with its own capability to gather inventory data. This means an organization could end up with five or six SAM tools, each with a limited scope.

The reality is that accurate inventory data lets companies to do a lot more than simply stay correctly licensed. Setting a universal inventory standard will evolve SAM into a true strategic lever for digital transformation.

Universal inventory standard forges new way forward

Microsoft is defining quality inventory by the real value it delivers to customers—an industry first. Once data is gathered, we want to provide a broad set of insights to customers. The standard should enable industry re-use, whether for tracking licenses or for patches and password resets.

Compliance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is critical. Luckily, data security is a huge feature of the standard, which lets customers store their own universal inventory data set. Customers own their data and control who can access it. The data doesn’t come to Microsoft; we just provide the format.

The shift to a universal inventory standard is fairly easy. It requires establishing a standard set of data points to capture and a standard way to export that data into a universal repository so it looks the same no matter where it came from.
It’s akin to the USB: Instead of every PC manufacturer devising their own devices, they came together to land on a universal approach, which helped accelerate the adoption of PCs. By taking a universal approach, we can help deliver greater value from the inventory data and drive greater adoption in the marketplace.

Our goal is to drive tools focused on insights such as cybersecurity scans, server consolidation scans, and hardware aging scans. These tools provide customers with compelling value they’re willing to invest in.

For this marketplace to take off, we must free up resources to develop these solutions. And that will only happen if we work together as an industry.

A collaborative effort

We’re driving this process because there’s a huge need for it, but we can’t do this alone. The universal inventory standard must be updated on an ongoing basis. We’ll provide a starting framework, but it’s fine if the standard evolves into something different.

We tested IAM 2018 with customers before launching it this month. Thus far, feedback from partners and customers has been very positive. One customer said, “The universal inventory standard gives us far greater control and visibility into our IT environment, which has allowed us to optimize and streamline while increasing overall security.”

“What Microsoft brings to the table with IAM is increased standardization over the data collection process and integration process, which creates an ecosystem where partners can focus on adding customer value versus reinventing the wheel.”

Martin Wolfram, CEO, Inviso

I’m thrilled about the universal inventory standard’s future impact on the industry. It will help enable digital transformation for customers and give them more control and security than ever before.

Please join the IAM discussion on the Microsoft Partner Community forum here.

Discover Microsoft Intelligent Asset Manager Gartner Magic Quadrant for SAM tools Gartner Market Guide for SAM Managed Service Providers