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Whats The Difference Between ITAM And SACM In ITIL4

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With the recent release of ITIL4 and the inclusion of ITAM as one of the 34 ITIL Practices, I have been asked on a number of ITIL4 Foundation training courses to explain the difference between ITAM and ITIL and why the Service Asset & Configuration Management (SACM) process in ITIL V3 is now the Configuration Management Practice in ITIL4.

As Purple Griffon delivers training in ITIL, Asset Management, Configuration Management, ITAM and Software Licence management, we know how all of these various frameworks, methodologies, processes and practices integrate together.

First, let’s explain some of the terminology…


An asset is something of value that helps to deliver a service. In terms of an IT asset.

It is typically a piece of software or hardware but could equally include people, data or information.

The tracking of IT assets is crucial to the operational or financial success of an enterprise.

IT assets are integral components of the organization's IT systems and network infrastructure. IT asset management is a practice that manages those assets.

Asset Management

Asset management refers to a governance lifecycle approach to the management of the things that an organisation is responsible for, namely its assets.

It can apply equally to both tangible assets and intangible assets and often covers the realization of value from those assets.

For example, asset management may be responsible for the water pipes, pumps and reservoirs of a water utility company.

Equally, asset management can be applied to the cables and substations of an electricity company or its IT assets like hardware, software and network assets.

Where the focus is on IT assets, we tend to call it ‘IT asset management (ITAM)

Configuration Management

This is a process for establishing and maintaining consistency of a product's performance, functional, and physical attributes with its requirements, design, and operational information throughout its life.

It is used in engineering and well as related to IT and the configuration of IT assets to deliver an IT service. It documents how various parts of the infrastructure work together to deliver a service.

Configuration Item (CI)

A CI is basically any component that needs to be managed to deliver a service. Note that all CIs are assets, but not all assets are CIs.

For example, we may have an asset that has a financial value that we want to record for financial purposes in a fixed asset register, but it is static and will never change or may be outside of our control and hence unmanageable, so we decide not to record it as a configuration item in our CMDB.

ITAM (Information Technology Asset Management)

This is a sub-practice of asset management and comprises a set of business policies, practices, processes and procedures that combine financial, inventory and contractual functions to optimize spending and support IT assets.

It supports end-to-end lifecycle management from acquisition through to disposal and enables IT strategic decision-making, such as whether to buy or build, decommission or dispose of.

Typically, ITAM includes hardware, software, people, data and information, as well as internal services and cloud service assets. i.e. whatever it takes to deliver an IT Service. The assets are typically recorded in an asset register which may form part of a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or Configuration Management System (CMS).

SAM (Software Asset Management)

This is a subset of IT Asset Management and comprises the acquisition, development, release, deployment, maintenance and eventual retirement of software assets.

SAM procedures provide effective control, protection and management of your software Assets

Software Licence Management

Part of SAM, software licence management is about identifying an organisation's license entitlements which can then be reconciled against data provided by Software inventory tools to provide the organisation with an 'Effective License Position'.

Or a view of where the organisation is under-licensed and at risk of a compliance audit and potential fines and penalties being applied or equally over-licensed and wasting money on unnecessary software purchases.

SACM (Service Asset & Configuration Management)

This is an ITIL V2 and V3 process that tracks all the individual Configuration Items in an IT system which may be as simple as a single server or as complex as the entire IT department.

It comprises several sub-processes

  • Planning – how we will manage our configuration data
  • Identification – of CIs and adding them to our CMDB/CMS
  • Control – of changes to configuration data when CIs are deployed or retired
  • Status Accounting – to track lifecycle changes
  • Verification & Audit – of applications and infrastructure to identify missing CIs

The ITIL V3 SACM process has now been replaced in ITIL4 from February 2019 with the ITAM and Configuration Management Practices.

How Have Things Changed With the Introduction of ITIL4?

The answer is that not a great deal has changed… ITAM is still as important as it ever was.

Knowing what assets you have, where your assets are, who is using them and how, and how critical they are to your organisation is still vitally important.

Configuration Management is also vitally important. Knowing what software sits on what hardware and what would happen to your service delivery if some part of your infrastructure fails is critical for the successful operation of your organisation.

The main change with the introduction of ITIL4 has been a change of focus towards providing value to stakeholders who require access to accurate and complete asset and configuration data and expanding from a focus on the process to implementing a practice (which included people, process and technologies).

In reality, the emphasis on providing good quality asset and configuration data has always been there, but now there is increased emphasis on it.

After all, what is the point of documenting assets and configurations for the sake of documenting them?

The value has always been in the use that others make of that accurate and up-to-date data.

There are certainly some areas of overlap within the methodologies and frameworks, but that is for individual organisations to determine where the interfaces are and what works best for them, depending on their size and capabilities.

It is also worthwhile saying that you don't have to record everything about every asset or configuration.

If it makes sense to collect the data just before you need it and you have the capability to do that then that is perfectly acceptable.

What Next?

To help you with establishing ITAM and Configuration Management Practices and avoid potential fines through non-compliance of software licence position, we run several training courses which will get you up to speed with what to do and how to do it.

ITAM Foundation - Will help you understand the basics of IT Asset Management, including how to manage hardware, software, people & information and service & cloud assets.

ITIL® 4 Specialist: IT Asset Management (ITAM): It will give you best practice guidance at both strategic and operational levels on how to maximise value creation, control costs, manage risks, meet regulatory and contractual requirements, and support decision-making about the purchase, re-use, retirement, and disposal of IT assets including their impact on sustainability.

SACM Masterclass - Will help to get you started with Configuration Management and improve the way that you manage the configuration models.

Thanks for reading this post looking at ITAM, SACM and ITIL, we appreciate you paying our blog a visit!

We hope this information was useful. If you want more information about our courses, then feel free to email us at [email protected] or call us on 01539 736828

About The Author

Steve Lawless

Steve Lawless

I've worked in IT for over forty years and spent the last twenty in training and consultancy roles. Since starting Purple Griffon in 2002 I've taught over three thousand individuals in a variety of subjects. I hold qualifications in all four versions of ITIL®, ITAM, UX, BRM, SLM, SIAM, VeriSM, and AI, and co-authored the BCS AI Foundation book. Outside of work, I enjoy skiing (or rather falling over at high speed), reading, science and technology, and spending time with my loved ones.

Tel: +44 (0)1539 736 828

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