The software licensing world is such a unique and focused industry that it is often overlooked as being one of the biggest areas of company risk. The decision to actively manage your software licenses can be the deciding factor of costing or saving you millions of dollars
In our upcoming blog series, we will educate and provide vital information for companies to mitigate risks while navigating complexities of software licensing. The objective with this particular series is to provide more information.
Software asset management (SAM) is a set of processes, policies and procedures used to allow companies to actively take inventory of what and how much software they have deployed in their IT environment. This information helps provide companies with needed data to effectively budget, manage and optimize their software licenses.
Failure to actively manage your software licenses often results in legal penalties for your company through the likes of over-deployed software and piracy. Additionally, without software asset management, your company is likely wasting IT spending by paying recurring support and maintenance fees on software licenses that are not in use or needed.
Am I still at risk even though I have a SAM team and tool in place?
The answer is “Yes.”
Many companies that have licensing exposure often question why they are at risk when teams and tools are in place to manage and track everything. The answer could be due to several reasons:
Lack of Licensing Knowledge
The lack of licensing knowledge by a company’s subject matter expert is the most common skill gap of why their exposure goes unnoticed. Complications with specific vendors, products and terms can still be missed by experts and need to be managed. For example:
- Vendors: Although there may be some similarities, licensing across software vendors is different. Furthermore, each vendor may define technological terms differently (e.g. Processor, Core, etc.)
- Products: Even with a single software vendor, each of their products are licensed differently (hardware based, user based, capacity based, resource based, etc.)
- Environments: Each software vendor and product has different licensing terms when it comes to where the software is installed from an environment perspective (production, test, QA, etc.) and the license requirements
- License Metric Changes: It is fairly common that software vendors will change how their products are licensed through the years; even the same product one year may be licensed differently the next year. These changes are not publicized by software vendors and go unnoticed by subject matter experts until it is too late
- Special Terms: There may be special licensing terms and restrictions that may apply to your specific contracts in comparison to the standard terms and conditions
Software Asset Management Tools
Companies often believe that implementing one of the many software asset management tools on the market will solve their problems but that is far from the truth. During audits and SAM assessments, it is fairly common to observe these tools are not configured accurately, thus the companies have been making their licensing decisions on inaccurate data points.
In addition to misconfiguration around reporting, the tool’s agent is not installed on every client/server, thus only reporting on a segment of their IT environment where the software is deployed. Because of this, the data points are only reporting on a portion of their actual licenses deployed.
Lastly, there are many limitations to these tools which will not help with any licensing. For example, the lack of the ability to collect and analyze license keys accurately or the lack of the ability to track concurrent users.
Not Actively Managed
Even if there is a proper SAM team and tool in place, software asset management needs to be actively managed on an on-going basis, not a once or twice a year exercise. IT environments are always changing. Through the likes of bringing up/down virtual machines, installing/removing software and upgrading your server hardware, each of these actions can have a drastic licensing impact.
Mitigate your Risk
In summary, software licensing is complex and always-changing. The lack of licensing expertise and the misconception of a “set-it-and-forget-it” type software asset management tool are some of the primary reasons that leave companies exposed. Software asset management services are the best way to mitigate these risks.
GHJ’ Royalty and Licensing Practice has the skillset and expertise to provide the necessary software asset management services for your company to:
- Evaluate legal risk around license over-deployment
- Be prepared for your next software vendor license audit
- Negotiate your next software license agreement or renewal
- Assess the completeness and accuracy of your Software Asset Management tools
- Evaluate cost savings through optimizing current licenses
Please contact GHJ Royalty and Licensing team to learn more about our services and how we can assist your company in mitigating risks.