The reason your SAM tool is not working for you is not because "there is no silver bullet". Let's stop saying that. Nobody buys it. Let's flip the narrative and face the truth. It's because you either didn't do your homework at all, or you knew that there is no silver bullet, and still didn't do your homework.
Snow Software, Flexera, Certero, License Dashboard, even ServiceNow, they've all got pretty decent tools. Yes, they all have limitations, each has its own, so what? You will win and achieve incredible results if you treat them as a foundation for your SAM solution. And you will fail, guaranteed, if you just "buy a tool".
One of the above just only recently implemented Windows Server licensing in a non-misleading way, and I love it, but our team has been delivering solutions based on that tool since 2015, and our customers have never complained.
Here are the top reasons your tool fails you, and what you can do about it:
1. You bought a tool as opposed to a solution. Did you lay out your exact goals? Did you study your software metrics in-depth? Did you write down exact, micro-level things you want your tool to address? If instead of that you just paid for something that would "help you save money on cloud" or "help you manage licences", in generic terms, well, here's the top reason. Study your infrastructure, software, metrics, issues first, have a heat map and a detailed plan of action, then go to market.
2. You expected too much. By all means, look at the strengths of the tool first, and then study the shortcomings as well, and set your expectations straight. Be prepared to build workarounds. Do not trust marketing materials. Rip it all apart, go out to the community and ask exact questions. To put things in perspective, even a question like "Does it do Oracle Middleware?" doesn't cut it. "Does it recognise components deployed by Oracle Enterprise Manager?" is the kind of questions you want to be asking. Tools do not operate with abstract, "ballpark", "high-level", "holistic approach" smoke-and-mirror BS. Tools need good quality data, and the means to get it.
3. You chose the tool by its price. Do I even have to go there? If you put it out to tender without outlining your exact non-generic requirements, the vendors will compete by price, that's the rule of the game. Cheaper does not mean better. Common sense, right? I wish. Cheaper amongst the few that solve your problems – that's a much better approach.
4. You invested in a tool, not a full solution. And because of that, you only set aside a budget for a tool. Never, ever, ever, just budget a tool. Outline full solution first and see how much you will need to implement it fully, with all the infrastructure changes, security considerations, connectors, databases etc. All of it. And the resource (I mean people) to maintain it because none of the tools run on their own. Again, don't budget for a tool, budget for a full solution.
5. You did not implement it as it should be implemented. The number of times I have seen tools installed, then configured, excuse my French, in a half-arsed way, and the SAM people complaining that it's not working – I cannot count the times I've seen this. The tool "is not working" because you aren't letting it do its job. What's the point collecting inventory from virtual servers if VMware connectors are not set up? That's only half of the data, utterly useless on its own.
6. You do not maintain it on a regular basis. As your infrastructure changes, the tool must follow. If you deploy something new – new cluster, new cloud etc. – and there is no automated discovery, you must configure the connectors manually. Forget to do it, and you'll lose visibility of that part of the infrastructure, you'll lose ability to track compliance and costs, and ultimately, to take the right decisions. Who's to blame then? The tool?
It is never the right time to waste money but it is an even worse idea now. Failure to study the problems you're solving, incorrect approach to acquisition, and incomplete implementation, it'll all result in a dead weight of a non-working tool, and ultimately, wasted money.
So, where to begin?
If you already bought a solution, put together a plan of action to mitigate the shortcomings. Start with finalising the deployment but also plan to build workarounds where the tool itself does not deliver. Chances are, they may be addressed in the next versions but can you afford to wait? Put together a plan and a business case, and go ask for a budget but don't forget to let the business know what they'll get in return.
If you haven't yet bought a tool, again, begin with studying your landscape. You don't need full-on ELPs. What you need is a Strategic SAM and Licensing Assessment that would produce a heat map of issues, recommend a plan of action, both at a granular level, and give you input that will allow you outline exact requirement for your SAM solution. Then go out to market and start asking uncomfortable questions. You don't need promises. You need it to work now. There will be shortcomings, expect them. Meet them in full gear – have a good team, a list of workarounds. Then budget for a solution. And then you'll be sorted.
Learn from others' mistakes.
Now go out there and win something.