Software audits coming your way



September 08, 2011 at 9:00 AM



Chances are, if you’ve got software from companies such as Adobe, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle (and who doesn’t?), you’ve either recently been through or are due for an audit.

Software audits are on the upswing, led by these giants in the enterprise, Gartner found in a survey of IT financial, procurement and asset management professionals conducted at a conference in November 2010. In the survey, 61% of 144 respondents reported being audited by at least one software vendor in the past 12 months. Gartner says this percentage is higher than it has been in the previous five years it has conducted the survey. The percentage of folks having experienced a software audit in the past 12 months has been creeping up over the prior three years from 30% to 35% to 54%, Gartner says.

“Vendors generally audit because they are trying to protect their intellectual property and have reason to believe that they are owed money for software that has been installed/used but not paid for,” says Gartner, pointing out five primary factors it believes are driving a lack of compliance and software audit requests. Those are:

- A lack of investment in robust IT asset management programs, making compliance difficult to track.

- Software vendor opportunism, meaning sometimes audits are initiated not so much to assure compliance but in an attempt to make up for revenue shortfalls experienced due to declines in transaction volumes and deal sizes.

- Increased complexity of software licensing, in terms of license metrics and deployment requirements (think virtual environments).

- The move of key usage rights from contract attachments to Web site references, which causes problems if an IT procurement department hasn’t documented those policies at purchase time by attaching them to the contract or archiving a copy of the Web reference.

- Lack of communication between IT procurement and IT operations or users about the details of a contract agreement.

While most everybody frets over audits, Gartner points to a few known triggers. One is organizational change, such as a merger or acquisition or high growth. Another is if an organization holds older license models or contracts, with the goal being conversion to current license models. A third is an indication from company insiders or vendor-sponsored organizations such as the Business Software Alliance that licensing is out of compliance.

 In the next article, read best practices advice on dealing with software audits.

 



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Beth Schultz

Beth Schultz , contributing editor, has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor. You can find her work at a number of leading IT publications, where she writes on a variety of topics including cloud computing, mobility, network/systems management and security. Find her Linkedin profile here or e-mail her here.


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