Expansion of Software Asset Management at ETH

Software Asset Management (SAM) is responsible for software infrastructure as a part of IT Asset Management (ITAM). These SAM activities mainly aim to optimise costs, create transparency and ensure compliance: use of the software must be in line with its contract.

The usage rules contained in software contracts are becoming increasingly complex and extensive. To enable cost-optimised purchasing and subsequent contractually-compliant use, SAM specialists must be called in to make complex technical clarifications. If not, financial risks and reputational damage may occur.

There is also something pleasing in itself: user consciousness of compliance has increased, and not least thanks to IT Services’ many awareness drives. However, this now means that more and more decentralised units having their software projects and procurement plans clarified by SAM specialists from ITS.

To be able to sustainably meet these challenges, IT Services are optimising processes, organisational structures and the necessary technical tools in various SAM projects. In addition, the central SAM is now being strengthened with additional personnel, as previous levels of resources could barely cope with the current volume of tasks. In concrete terms, this means that Christian Hagen will be entrusted with SAM tasks and – together with Ralph Curschmann – will further develop this area.

SAM is a key service of IT Services; it is recognised and appreciated at ETH and is correspondingly very well used. In order to improve ETH’s “SAM maturity level”, SAMs must also be able to flow into the decentralised units. The aforementioned projects and increased resources are an effective means of achieving this goal.

SAM Commitment at ETH

Extract from the newsletter “How is your SAM? / Software Asset Management” (Newsletter inside|out No. 13 from July 2017)

ETH Zurich has an extensive portfolio of software. The campus licences are obtained by IT Procurement (ITS PPF) and made available to users via a wide variety of services (e.g. IT Shop). However, many of these products are only licenced for use within the areas of research and education, which means they often cannot be used in projects with participants from industry. The IT Services (ITS) department offers services in relation to Software Asset Management (SAM), and can develop solutions which enable contract-compliant usage while taking economic aspects into consideration.

IT Procurement & Portfolio (ITS PPF) takes care of licensing and SAM at the ETH Zurich. It provides advice to the institutes in relation to licensing issues, ensures the required level of awareness for compliance aspects during information events and lectures, and develops practical solutions for ETH members. A recent example here is the central pool of commercial licences for a technical / scientific product. Although the ETH has an extensive licence for this product, it only applies for academic use. Usage of these licences for projects with industry participation is not permitted, which is why a solution was developed in the form of a network licence pool. These commercially-usable licences are provided in a modular form to the interested institutes for the duration of the project. The institute – which would have needed to obtain a licence anyway due to the project – can now obtain and use the precise number of licences for the desired project period. Such licences are not particularly cheap. Thanks to the centrally-managed licence pool, institutes only need to pay a small percentage of the costs incurred for the licences. What’s more, IT Procurement of the ITS department can negotiate special conditions for the products. All in all, this solution helps to ensure the required level of compliance while taking aspects of economy and efficiency into consideration.


Ralph Curschmann, IT Asset Manager, IT Procurement & Portfolio (ITS PPF), IT Services

Ralph Curschmann (IT Asset Manager) and Christian Hagen (IT Purchasing), from left, use the "First aid kit for Licence Managers" to help ensure ETH members use software in an economical manner, which is also in line with the terms of the contracts.
Ralph Curschmann (IT Asset Manager) and Christian Hagen (IT Purchasing), from left, use the “First aid kit for Licence Managers” to help ensure ETH members use software in an economical manner, which is also in line with the terms of the contracts.

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