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What's the difference between HAM, SAM and ITAM?

IT asset management tools are becoming an increasingly important topic. There are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, without due records, you are setting up and managing processes incorrectly, which often leads to faulty planning and unnecessary expenditure. In addition to mismanagement, poor record keeping is also a major security risk. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at three of the most mentioned disciplines within IT asset management: HAM, SAM, and ITAM. We’ll explain how they intersect and how they can benefit you.
Adam Šima

29. 3. 2023

HAM (Hardware Asset Management) 

This is the management of all hardware owned and maintained by an organization throughout its lifecycle. The hardware lifecycle can be described in six steps: 

request → acquisition → deployment → monitoring → maintenance → retirement 

In IT practice, this most often includes computers, printers, phones, or physical servers, including their technical configuration, which is usually downloaded automatically from the network. Many companies also register non-IT assets under hardware asset management (HAM), such as vehicle fleets, contracts, or furniture. The main benefits include accurate asset location, more efficient budget planning, lower overall HW costs, better technical support for users, as well as avoiding problems associated with irregular maintenance. In a survey conducted by HDI research brief among 342 enterprises, a full 85% said that HAM had demonstrably helped them save costs.  

SAM (Software Asset Management) 

This process is primarily about ensuring your company is fully compliant with the licensing terms of the software you use. In the case of purchase planning, this will help you choose the optimal number of user licenses, also based on actual usage. This avoids the unnecessary costs of buying more than required. In addition, larger companies have better conditions for negotiating discounts when purchasing software centrally, because they know exactly how many licenses they need. At the same time, license records can help you detect pirated and unlicensed software that poses a security threat as well as the risk of large financial penalties during an audit. Software asset management (SAM) can therefore be thought of as a record of purchased licenses and all installed software that runs on hardware managed in HAM. 

ITAM (IT Asset Management) 

IT Asset Management is a combination of both HAM and SAM. Commonly, if a company follows only one of these processes or one less than thoroughly, the expected benefits cannot be fully achieved. For example, you will have difficulty figuring out how many licenses you need to acquire if you don’t track all the computers properly. Firmware upgrades on parts of the corporate infrastructure may also not turn out well if the performance and possible limitations of the hardware used are not taken into account. Analysis of potential threats from illicit software on employee computers will be poor without the software and hardware inventory being in sync. ITAM can therefore help you ensure alignment between all the hardware and software you use. As a result, you will be able to manage processes, and risks, but also, for example, purchasing, investments, and accounting more effectively.