Software Asset Management’ or ‘Software License Management’ – which one does your organization need? Are they both the same? Or why does your organization need both of them?
Well, if you are someone related to the IT industry, you must have heard about software asset management and software license management. But, have you ever wondered about what these two tools are used for or how they differ from one another? If not, this blog will help you understand the differences between software asset management and software license management. And in case, you are already aware of both, this blog will give you deep insights on both and help you understand how each of them is equally important in managing all your business software and their licensing.

What are software assets?

Any applications or programs used by any organization can be called their software assets. This may include all the software, support documents, data rights, etc. Even all the hardware (machines or systems) used by any organization can be referred to as their software assets.

What is Software Asset Management?

Managing all the software used or owned by any organization is known as software asset management. This typically involves tracking all the assets, monitoring them, deploying them across the organization, running their maintenance, and other important operations.
In order to manage all the software assets, organizations primarily use software asset management tools.

What are software licenses?

Whether an enterprise or personal software, free or paid, every software comes with a predefined set of terms and conditions. These conditions primarily explain how to use the software, who can use the software, when to use the software, and several others. All these terms and conditions are collectively termed as software licenses.

What is Software License Management?

Software license management can be defined as the process of managing all the permissions, restrictions, and other conditions within an organization. Usually, software license management is done from a single console to streamline the usage of software while being compliant with all the terms and conditions mentioned in the licenses.

Understanding Software Asset Management and Software License Management:

Let’s consider a school library to explain the importance as well as the requirement of both software asset management and software license management.
Within the library, one can easily find different rows and shelves housing different books. In addition to books, the library might also consist of research papers, project reports, question papers, annual progress reports, patent lists, and lot more educational materials.

Libraries also consist of sitting areas where readers can sit and study the books of their choice. Also, there would be reserved areas for the office personnel for issuing books, collect the books back, and other official duties.

Now, as we all know, libraries are always divided into different sections based on the types or genres of books or other study materials. These collections can be further divided into different corners based on specific subjects or sub-topics.
One may also find the library divided into different zones for students, teaching staff, and other official personnel.  This means, that students can borrow books from the students’ section and thus the teaching or other officials from their designated areas.

Again, while the students borrow or return the study materials, there are library officials who keep track of all these activities. These officials also ensure that the assigned shelves or rows contain the correct set of books. This means they ensure that biology books don’t get placed in the rows or shelves assigned to Information Technology. 

On the other hand, these officials also keep a record of the exact number of books within the library. In case, they sense that number of students is outnumbering the number of books, they will write to higher authorities to acquire more books. Similarly, when they sense certain books outnumber the number of students enrolled, they might stop acquiring those books. 

Likewise, these officials will also check the records to find out the number of borrowed books, returned books, damaged books (if any), and available as well as unavailable books. They would also do the same with the other study materials housed within the library.

Now, consider the library as an IT organization, the librarians as the IT team, and the books along with other study materials as the assets of the IT organization. Here, permission to use specific zones by students or office staff members can be considered as software licenses.

From the above example, we can conclude that:
Managing the library assets would include – 

  • Finding the available or the unavailable number of books or other study materials.
  • Assigning the materials to students or other staff members.
  • Finding out books or study materials that need to be included newly.
  • Finding out books or study materials that need to be discarded.
  • Monitoring the permissions to who is assigned to use what and act accordingly. 
  • Ensure that the library has a pleasant environment for the readers, students, or other members.
  • Tracking the damaged books or study materials that need to be replaced.
  • Finding replacements for the damaged materials.
  • All the above points can be considered for the non-study materials within the library premises.

Here are some of the cases that can be considered from the above example: 

  1. All the library contents can be considered software assets.
  2. The librarians or officials can be called IT admins.
  3. Students or staff members can be referred to as the users who use the assets of the library.
  4. The rules and permissions to use the different sections or any other contents of the library resembles the software licenses.
  5. Other materials within the library like chairs, benches, printers, etc. can be considered hardware.

Here, we can define software asset management as the overall process to manage all the software assets within the organization. This includes all the software and hardware, their present numbers, their future requirement, and other related points.

On the other hand, software license management can be defined as the process of managing all the permissions to use the software assets within the organization. This strictly includes only the software licenses. 

Hence, we can conclude that software license management is always a part of software asset management.

Point of thought:

Having an apt software asset management tool helps the organization estimate its past, present, and future software requirements. On the other hand, having a software license management tool helps the organization to utilize software licenses profoundly. 

Well, to mention here, software licenses can be stretched enough to be utilized more. OpenLM is one such organization that helps organizations to utilize more from all their engineering and specialty software licenses. If you are looking for the most trusted platforms for efficient and effective software license management, OpenLM is just an email or call away.

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