In the weeks leading up to the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Texas, on July 7-11, 2013, we’re profiling finalists for Microsoft’s partner of the year award for Software Asset Management (SAM). Here, Sweden’s Atea Sverige AB makes the case for Cloud SAM.

Two widely accepted facts about software asset management: It’s critical to effective business operations, and it often requires on-site expertise to capture and crunch the data. When Atea, a leading Nordic supplier of IT infrastructure and the biggest large account reseller (LAR) in Western Europe, set out to make SAM more user-friendly, the company turned to the cloud to create a solution that greatly simplifies the process.

Atea’s Cloud SAM is a Windows Azure-based SAM platform that provides business intelligence to software inventory data from the System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and licensing information. The solution uses RDL and SQL Reporting, SQL Database and SQL Data Sync. “Because it’s built on Microsoft technology, our Cloud SAM solution is secured by Windows Azure encryption and other powerful Microsoft security features,” says Joel Sanderi, SAM solutions manager for Atea. “Data is secure with Cloud SAM.”

Cloud SAM does not have a technical interface; instead, it provides value by delivering user-friendly reports as a cloud-hosted subscription service. “We have a lot of customers, and we offer a lot of SAM tools, but the one thing they all used to have in common was that they had to be installed locally, and required on-site servers to host the data--and someone on-site with the time and skill to query that data from the System Center console,” says Sanderi. “With Cloud SAM, we host and refine that data, and deliver in it securely in the form of high-level, actionable reports straight to the people who need it.”

That means a company’s SAM administrator can access reporting any time from a user-friendly dashboard and make real-time decisions that optimize software usage and deployment, instead of waiting for a monthly or quarterly report. This agility greatly improves a businesses’ ability to maximize the value of their software assets, reducing expenses and valuable manpower hours.

The solution saves customers money and time in other ways, too; because the solution is subscription-based, the customer only pays for what they need, and can easily scale the service to fit their needs. And, since existing SCCM infrastructure is used, there is no need for additional agent deployments.

“Atea’s Cloud SAM solution is really pioneering in that it puts the power of software asset data into the hands of the people who need that data, in a very secure, intuitive and accessible way,” says Dinis Couto, General Manager of Software Asset Management at Microsoft. “Atea is focused on driving value and customer satisfaction at the highest levels, which makes them an important partner for Microsoft.”

After Atea first rolled out Cloud SAM in January of 2011, the company was recognized by Microsoft as “The world's first Azure-hosted SAM Solution.” Read more about Atea’s Cloud SAM solution here, and watch a video here.