Just how confident are you that you are licensed correctly? When I have off the record chats, I don’t meet many people who are convinced that they are fully compliant. Let’s be honest maintaining software compliance is a moving target. It is likely that your organisation is buying more and more software all the time. Even if using the major vendors, you are still likely to be managing a large number of contracts and support renewals annually. If you factor in changes like hardware refreshes or major application upgrades, then the impact on your licence position can regularly fluctuate.
In simple terms compliance is that for any point in time the number of deployed/used software licences is less than or equal to the number of licences owned and purchased.
Vendors will have different interpretations of what constitutes usage or deployment. Oracle will generally be gracious if you are found during an audit to have installed software but not used it. You will be asked to de-install the software, of course. Software that is installed and has been accessed will count as deployed, and it is this that needs to be captured on a regular basis. This sounds all very simple but in reality it is far more complex.
There are a number of major challenges:
Many firms may believe they are compliant or take a degree of risk thinking they are more or less compliant but really don’t know until they are tested by a software audit. It can be a stressful time if an audit uncovers significant non-compliance and you have to justify unbudgeted expense.
If you work in a large enterprise you may be making local purchasing decision based on local projects and local user needs. Sometimes this can result in over licence and under licence positions across the business that ultimately is not cost effective. It is imperative that you attempt to get a global view so that you can understand any excess and manage a global licence pool that provides the opportunity to recycle your licences.
Even with the use of software asset management software, strict processes must be implemented if you wish to maintain a constant state of software compliance. SAM software will go a long way to understanding the delta between licence entitlement and deployed software and provide reliable reporting and dashboards. The licence complexity of Oracle, IBM and SAP will still typically require detailed interpretation of the data from someone with broad experience of the vendor’s licence policies.