SPLA licensing tools - why should you care?

A SAM tool is not a SPLA tool

One reason for this is that some tool providers delivering traditional Software Asset Management (SAM) solutions claim to be able to support SPLA reporting, but to get a good tool for SPLA reporting you need to focus on what is relevant for SPLA reporting and what other features you might need.

One thing a SAM tool can do which is needed for SPLA reporting is inventory on hardware and software, so far so good.

But a traditional SAM tool takes acquired licenses and their entitlements into consideration to discover discrepancies in relation to what is installed and in use. Put in short it will make the most of the licenses you own and help you harvest unused licenses.

The optimal solution for a SPLA environment

A SPLA tool needs to find the most optimal way for you to pay for the actual use from the previous month, without taking “historically purchased licenses” in to consideration, only based on installations and/or access – and sometimes even across multiple SPLA agreements and different SKU numbers and entitlement types.

The terms Highest watermark also works differently with SPLA compared to traditional agreements because with SPLA you need to determine total number of individual users who has/had access to the software and not just the highest amount of users at a given time during the reporting month.

The above are just examples on the difference between a SAM and a SPLA tool, but in short: A SAM tool will not do the job of a SPLA tool, unless heavily modified or specially designed modules or third party tools are used in addition.

Here is a short list of some of the most common features service providers are looking for in a SPLA tool:

Accurate inventory:

The foundation for everything in relation to license calculations and compliance documentation is accurate inventory.

Without proper topology of your hardware and virtualization infrastructure, all following processes are …. guesswork?

Accurate license calculations

This is where knowledge is applied and this is where it becomes complicated.

But this is also where the difference between a traditional SAM tool and a SPLA tool becomes obvious.

In many ways SPLA is simpler than traditional licensing, but still the license calculations needs to be based on SPLA rules and SPLA rules only.


At the end of the day (and the initiation of an audit) proper documentation is one of the key things which your SPLA tool should provide.

A SPLA tool should deliver a monthly report containing the information your auditor will be looking for and in a format that document how the data for your monthly order was created.

The SPLA Manager naturally takes all of these differences between Traditional agreements and SPLA into consideration as it is build based on the SPLA agreements and SPUR documents. The SPLA Manager holds a top 5 ranking in the above mentioned survey from KPMG.