Software Technology

How to Avoid Being Taken for a Ride by Software Vendors (Part Two)?

Written by Sean Holmes

Cloud computing has radically changed the role of the IT department, so much so that having visibility of your entire IT software estate has become a bigger challenge than ever. This is especially true when you’re dealing with the kind of vast and complex infrastructures that global enterprises typically have in place. Things like instant software updates and security patches to protect from new threats can also mean that enterprises are either in a constant battle to maintain visibility of their ever-changing software estate, or leaving themselves vulnerable when it comes to being audited by a software vendor.

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Software vendors are aware of the issues that organizations are facing in terms of managing their software estates, and the major ones now have software compliance teams in place to identify firms that may be under-licensed via audits. With vendor audits increasing in frequency as the pressure mounts to identify revenue streams via back licensing and support, companies are under an obligation to stay compliant. Enterprises are increasingly moving from the traditional Software Asset Management model to Software Value Management in order to obtain business intelligence, control, and establish governance in an increasingly complex market for IT assets, rather than just counting licenses.

Some vendors will randomly select companies for auditing whereas some will actively target those who have been caught out before, so any company can be at risk from being targeted. This creates problems when companies have increasingly complex cloud-based software estates in place. The growth of software delivery methods and usage models, coupled with the huge boom in the use of mobile devices, has added layers of complexity to software licensing. In this brave new world, companies simply can’t afford to limit software and license management to their desktops. Cloud is the perfect example of a new delivery mechanism that has the potential to deliver great efficiencies, but can also make things more complicated – particularly when it comes to software licensing. Many businesses are embracing the cloud in search of the promised land of cost-savings and boosts to productivity.

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Beside this, many big companies can be paid attention to in their vendor contracts. One thing they generally do is to check the small print for things like software maintenance clauses; you may not need this if you have IT professionals in-house and you could be paying over the odds for a service that you don’t need. Further added to this, query your audit clause from the beginning – understand your contractual obligations and control what information you should and should not provide. Remember, the vendor is likely to use audits to identify revenue generating opportunities including upgrades and under-licensing, so you need to have control of this from the first instance. When you are keeping a track of, and you are adding some changes to your software estate then making use of scenario modeling is a good way of getting a clear picture of your entire estate and also the impact of licensing, so you can communicate this to your vendor.

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Sean Holmes

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