Unexpected ways you could be non-compliant

A recent article in www.cio.com outlined the most common reasons that organisations were likely to be non-compliant when they were hit with a software audit. They outlined these 7 reasons as:

Software bought for one reason, now used for another

Certain license types, such as limited use licenses, can only be used in non-production environments like development, testing or failover. Companies often purchase these licenses rather than full use licenses to obtain a pricing discount. Then, months or years later they discover their limited use licenses are being used for production use purposes like internal data processing operations.

The software product use rights changed

Product use rights can change at any time and the rate of change is growing among larger IT vendors. For example, during recent contract negotiations and audits. SAP and Oracle have begun to ask clients to purchase additional licenses for third-party application access. A business with 100 Salesforce.com licenses that need to access information from SAP may now be required to buy 100 additional licenses. It’s only been in the last few years that vendors have begun to interpret “indirect access” this way and attempted to enforce it with clients.

Your definition is different from the vendor’s

Licensing programs and definitions have changed dramatically. What constitutes a qualified user or device (Microsoft)? What about a concurrent user or a floating user (IBM)? What’s the difference between an application-specific full-use license or an embedded software license (Oracle)? Any misinterpretation can unwittingly throw you in to non-compliance.

Upgraded software/hardware

Or maybe downgraded. If you upgrade or downgrade software, which product use rights apply? The rights that came with the original purchase, or the rights that came with the up/downgrade? How will your support and maintenance agreement be impacted? Did you recently upgrade mainframe or server hardware?  Often, that means additional MIPs or cores that you will also be required to buy software licenses for whether you use them or not.

Virtualization and licensing implications

Virtualized environments are hotbeds for unintentional non-compliance, as each vendor has very specific rules around how hosts and software are coupled and managed. For example, if you have two physical Microsoft Windows Servers (2012), with two virtual sessions running on each. Using VMware’s tools, you move one virtual session from one server to the other. Soon thereafter, you want to move it back again. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t allow “server mobility” beyond the first move. The virtual session can move one time (e.g. from the first server to the second), but is then stuck on the second server for 90 days. In this instance, this is ground for non-compliance as Microsoft requires a new license to run three (rather than two) virtual sessions on one machine.

Unknowingly purchased software licenses from an ISV

More companies are turning to independent software and technology vendors for complex, industry-specific IT solutions (e.g., diagnostic equipment in healthcare, production floor technologies in manufacturing). In some cases, these solutions contain third party software that isn’t disclosed to the buyer. As result it isn’t on their asset management radar screen.

Don’t have a formal process and tools for distributing, licensing and managing licenses

Large enterprises often engage in checkbox license management. They invest in software asset (or license) management tools that provide limited auditing capabilities and limited visibility into license usage, and call it a day. Unfortunately, effective management of software licenses requires dedicated people and processes. This ensures a 360-degree view and control over how licenses are purchased, distributed, harvested, archived and retired. As the complexity of IT and IT contracting increases, the need for formal asset and license management programs within the enterprise will become even more crucial.

If you recognize any of these instances of likely non-compliance and need help establishing your licence position. Why not give us a call. Our Certero platform offers best of breed software asset management solutions that can run individually, but more important they can run holistically together.  The platform runs across Windows & macOS, IBM, SAP and Oracle.

The AssetStudio product suite together with our world class SAM services, will help you quickly gain control of your licensing. Enabling cost reduction through optimization and helping you avoid any nasty surprises from your next vendor software audit.