Five Keys to Software Audit Protection for the Data Center (Part 2)

In the previous installment of this two-part series, I stated that organizations need to avoid software license optimization procrastination. I discussed two of the five keys needed for software audit protection in the data center.

First, organizations need to implement efficient discovery tools, and second, organizations should acquire software license optimization software.

3. Partner with Software License Experts

For organizations that do not have a strategy for managing licenses in the data center, be prepared for unexpected expenses which could result from a software audit. Organizations that try to save money by manually managing data center licenses, are probably not splurging on the software licenses that need managing and as a result, those organizations are more than likely going to be noncompliant.

Gartner’s report says “Formal audits, invoking the rights set out the audit clause of the contract or license agreement, may penalize customers for non-compliance by applying punitive charges (sometimes referred to as “fines”). These may include charging retail prices rather than discounted contractual or volume pricing, applying back maintenance, charging interest on payments back to the installation or release date, as well as requiring the customer to pay for the cost of the audit. This may lead to a minor non-compliance costing significantly more than the value that may have been derived from the software.”

Software optimization vendors typically offer services and expertise to help an organization get started with their software optimization solution. Although the costs of such services might seem high, they could save an organization a lot of money when compared to how much it would cost to train or hire people with the expertise required to manage a Software Asset Management solution in the data center. Furthermore, services offered can also include expertise if/when your organization is audited.

Gartner recommends that organizations should “avoid knock-on effects on operational activity and consider using third parties to supplement existing capabilities and expertise.”

Software optimization providers typically hire experts experienced with software audits. A major benefit that comes from partnering with such a vendor is that they will represent your organization if audited. They can negotiate software contracts for an organization and they can even negotiate with software vendors to reduce fines when a software audit shows the organization is non-compliant.

4. Create Accurate Software Asset Reports

Software license reports are reviewed by the software auditors to determine if an organization is compliant with their software license agreements. It is important to understand the type of information that needs to be included on the software license report. Be sure to understand the type of information a software vendor is looking for when they ask for a software license report.

When your software reports have the information the software vendor is requesting, and if the report shows you to be compliant, chances are the software auditor will move on to the next target and will not bother you again for a while.

5. Incorporate Change Management Processes

As network infrastructure becomes more complex, software licensing in the data center continues to become even more confusing. Furthermore, tracking software entitlement continues to be a gamble because simple technology updates to the environment can cause you to become non-compliant with existing software agreements.

Therefore, implementing change management processes is critical for managing software licenses in the data center. Change is the modification, addition, or removal of any configuration item (CI) that has an effect on IT services. Configuration changes that affect architecture, processes, software tools, and metrics can have an impact on current licensing models and entitlements, which could cause the organization to be noncompliant with their software license agreements.

Summary

If organizations are serious about avoiding software license penalties or fees, they need to avoid procrastinating their software license optimization solution. For software audit protection, be sure to implement efficient discovery tools as well as software license optimization software. Because of the complexity of many software license contracts, consider partnering with software license experts in order to create accurate software asset reports. Be sure implement a change management process for all configuration items (CIs) to ensure that changes made in the data center do not disrupt or violate current software license contracts.