When Better To Make Sure…

John Lipsey over at Flexera software, recently published a great post on software vendor audit trends and how to respond to them. I would like to take this chance to talk about your inventory, are you running the right reports and inventory to make sure you provide the correct audit information.

If you want to read John’s post in full, you can find it here. I would like to just point out some highlights before we start though.

First of all the report mentions that in the past 12 months 65% of the people surveyed had been audited by at least one software vendor. The report goes on to point out the myriad license compliance issues of each of the high-audit vendors, along with Gartner recommendations for how to best address these issues. A close reading of the Gartner “primary area of risk” portion of the report highlights a common thread that enterprises must take into account in order to be “software audit ready”.


“Inventory discovery tools cannot ensure compliance with all license terms and conditions, such as the contractual restriction that Adobe Acrobat forms may save no more than 500 completed responses without a server product license, as these tools identify only the software installations and not the way in which the software is used.”


“The most common compliance issues faced by Microsoft customers typically relate to a lack of understanding of the subtly nuanced licensing requirements.”


“The primary areas of risk appear to be vague areas of license metrics and usage entitlements, including changes in license metric definitions that may show up in ordering documents that differ from those of some earlier deals.”


“An ELA (Enterprise License Agreement) grants licenses for software to be deployed and used before the ELA expires. Customers who set aside licenses just in case they might be needed in future can find that these licenses are not covered under the terms of their current ELA, especially if it is un capped.”

So In Short…

Well that’s a good question, from the vendor responses it seems they have different experiences as well when auditing companies. The common theme here is companies explaining their licensing, maybe it should be made clearer? Either way, as the customer your vendor has a right to audit your software and you must comply with the request or face serious penalties.

So how can Configuration Manager help you with this? The first thing is the obvious, make sure you have your software inventory correctly configured and enabled. If you have the default schedule of 7 days, try reducing it down a little to get more information. Make sure you have setup proper display and product name display names in software inventory.

Making sure you have display names set will ensure that if a manufacturer or product name is spelt wrong for any reason your reports will all show the same data and ensure you see everything. The second measure is use software metering. Adobe mention that proving instance does not contribute to the full picture for them, you need to prove use of the application. Software metering can tell you how often a product is used and by which users.

The final measure we can take is if your product is licensed per user, make sure it installs per user, run it through the new application model in Configuration Manager 2012 and the application won’t be available for users other than the ones you target with the application. You can also use all this information from metering and inventory to harvest your software licences, those which are not used, take them away, it might be the difference.

To close out, I think this is evidence that vendors are more aware of enterprise customers and that we need to ensure that we have the proper tools setup to be able to answer the questions asked of us by vendors.


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About Martyn

Martyn is one of the Senior Cloud Architects and DevOps Team Leader at one of the worlds leading Cloud Transformation Specialists Inframon. Martyn is responsible for the architecture of some of the largest Azure deployments in EMEA and is a advisor to a many businesses on their strategies. Martyn is a regular speaker at Microsoft events and community events on Azure and DevOps, giving his insight to a growing number of audiences.

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