You Need to Read the Fine Print on Your Software Licenses

by Jul 2, 2020

Computer technology touches virtually every aspect of our daily lives. We come in contact with computerized systems with such regularity that many of us take them for granted. Personal activities as diverse as banking, shopping, and watching streaming video services are all carried out with the help of network-attached computers and digital devices. The business use of computerized solutions is steadily increasing along with the volumes of data available to organizations for processing and analysis.

Networked computers can be seen as a global nervous system that serves the needs of the world’s users. Software is its brain. A computer or network without the proper software is simply an interesting collection of electronic components. It may be useful as a paperweight or doorstop but provides no real value without software to control its operation. In the digital world, the software is one of the key ingredients in everything from commerce to entertainment.

There Really is No Free Lunch

The 21st century equivalent of the adage “there is no free lunch” may well be the allure of free software. Everyone who has used the Internet for more than a few minutes has seen the large call to action buttons offering free software solutions. A cursory investigation usually reveals that free software is simply an advertisement for a commercial product.

One can’t blame the software vendors behind these promotions. Developing software is a complicated undertaking that usually deserves financial compensation. As with a majority of human endeavors, payment is required as the reward for producing items that provide value for others. From one-person development efforts to the largest software providers, making a profit is the reason they are in business.

The same drive for monetary gain behind the illusion of free software can manifest itself in the practice of performing unexpected license audits. While you might think that this may be a tactic used by little-known software vendors, this is not the case. Carrying out frequent licensing audits is one of the ways that major players in the software market attempt to squeeze their customers in the interest of increasing their profit margin.

Navigating the Vagaries of Software Audits

Legitimate software vendors usually require the purchaser to sign licensing agreements that are designed to eliminate the misuse of their products. When non-compliance is discovered during an audit, it can result in substantial financial penalties. Several important steps can be taken to be better prepared for an audit and avoid the fines that vendors may hope to impose.

  • A full understanding of license terms and potential penalties is essential. Software license agreements are notoriously complex and there can be issues with using products on virtual machines that need to be completely clarified to avoid non-compliance.

  • Vendors construct licensing agreements in various ways. Understanding the differences in the terminology they use can be instrumental in remaining compliant. There are vast differences in how software can be used with a proprietary license versus ones targeting workstations or individual users.

  • The creation of internal policies designed to maintain license compliance can minimize the chance that an enterprise exceeds the accepted terms of the contract. These procedures should include keeping employees knowledgeable regarding how software products can be used and communicating the cost of misuse.

  • Maintain reliable records of software licenses and usage. Ideally, there should be a single repository where this information is stored and updated as the need arises. This provides a centralized location that can be queried in the event of an audit.

  • Conducting internal compliance audits should be done on a regularly scheduled basis. They can be carried out with in-house teams or third-party experts who can identify gaps in compliance so the organization can take the necessary steps to resolve the issues.

Know What to Expect With IDERA

Surprise software licensing audits can be a problem for several reasons. Due to the way that licensing agreements are constructed, it can be difficult to understand exactly how software packages can be used in the complex virtualized environments used by many organizations. It can be quite distressing to receive a notice that the vendor supplying essential business tools is showing up next week to conduct an audit of your software licenses.

IDERA does not believe in surprise audits. Do not expose your organization to risks of non-compliance across your software portfolio. Your organization may need to take immediate steps to review your software inventory.

Be in control of your license compliance. IDERA removes the pain of surprise software audits. Take a stance on compliance. Switch to IDERA now and prevent the hassle later.

To receive personalized information on how to avert surprise audits from software vendors, contact Sales at IDERA now.