Predictions for 2010: Enterprises make software license compliance in virtual environments a higher priority

By: Jeff Greenwald

As 2009 winds down, it’s that time of year to consider what 2010 will bring to the world of software license compliance and optimization.  This post will be one of many “Predictions for 2010.” 

Let’s begin by considering the increasing pervasiveness of virtualization across the datacenter.  I expect more organizations will start to become more aware of software compliance violations caused by their use of virtual technology. I actually just wrote an article for VMblog.com that discusses two common causes of software license compliance violations in virtual environments in more detail.

To help eliminate uncertainty, ensure software compliance, and stay prepared for software vendor audits, I recommend organizations look to establish best practices like the following.

Software License Compliance Best Practices

  • Think creatively about how to do more with less during these challenging times. Many enterprises are turning to SaaS; however, without a means to monitor usage, they may inadvertently get into the same shelfware predicament. For example, let's say an organization is paying a monthly fee based on a 10,000 user license. By monitoring the traffic, i.e. usage, they could identify that during the last 3 months only 8,500 employees were actively using the application. With this new information in hand, organizations could change their license subscription.
  • Collect complete, granular information. Large applications are often deployed across multiple platforms and include a wide range of options, entitlements, and utilities. Only granular information provides sufficient visibility into the complete deployment and provides the accurate information negotiators need. Once an application heads for the "cloud" without that usage information, enterprises and their vendors will be struggling to understand the impact on license entitlements.
  • Use a regularly scheduled, automated process to reduce the impact on staff, eliminate business disruption, and ensure accuracy. A third-party "agentless" software solution is the best way to add this capability without adding additional management complexity. Virtualization typically helps enterprise IT reduce complexity, so having this agentless optimization and usage tracking tool dovetails well with that strategy.

Organizations have begun to recognize that as their virtual environments grow, they are increasingly susceptible to unknown degrees of software license compliance violations. Taking steps to ensure compliance before the audit hits can save them hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

When tools from Flexera and other companies are used in the context of the above best practices, enterprises can precisely track usage in virtual environments, make better predictions of future needs, and actually gain the upper hand in their license contract negotiations.

What’s next for software license compliance in 2010? What are you doing about mitigating compliance risks in virtual environments?

We’re taking a break for the holiday next week. The next post will be 2010 Budget Planning and Forecasting – Leveraging Usage Analysis of Software Assets to Marry Software Spend to Sales Forecasts.

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