How to get a handle on your software licences

Short of purchasing yet another solution, what best practices can CIOs adopt to help them better manage the problem of software licences?

Tags: 3i InfotechBentley Systems (www.bentley.com/)Focus Softnet LimitedSAP
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How to get a handle on your software licences
By  Tom Paye Published  April 21, 2015

As the wave of digitisation continues to sweep every aspect of the corporate world, and as vendors continue to convert many of their old offerings into software-based solutions, managing software licences has become a big job for many CIOs.

Software-based products may provide operational efficiencies in terms of the work that IT does, but due to the swelling number of software products that organisations are signing up for, it’s no wonder that things can become difficult to keep track of. Some vendors are capitalising on this, and have released products specifically designed to help companies manage their software licences. But short of purchasing yet another solution, what best practices can CIOs adopt to help them better manage the problem?

Indeed managing software licences has been an ongoing challenge for CIOs in the Middle East, as the way that software licences work has not changed much over the years. However, in the past, it used to be much easier to manage software licences, as organisations had less pieces of software to keep track of. Unfortunately, the problem is getting much worse now, as Wail Farhat, head of maintenance go-to-market at SAP MENA explains.

“With the current increasing adoption of traditional core solutions like ERP, companies have become ready to build on it, utilise it more, and take full advantage of what the software Industry can offer to address the ongoing changing business challenges and needs. As a result, there are now more licence contracts, each with usage rights and terms. As a result, compliance and lifecycle management for each solution have become serious burdens for CIOs to manage,” he says.

“So, CIOs are faced with two major challenges, which are painful with high risk to the organisation - the first is ensuring they adhere to the usage rights on which they signed, and the second is ensuring that the solutions they are using are going to be available for a considerable amount of time, covered with relevant maintenance contracts, continuously improved, and innovated on.”

Rohan Tejura, assistant vice president at Focus Softnet, agrees that the job of managing ever-more-complex licences for software is becoming more challenging for CIOs.

“All licences come in with their own set of terms and conditions of tenure, validity, number of users, login policies, and conflicts. Keeping track of all the licences, their expiries, and their compatibilities coupled with their preference-dependent user-base has become a complex operation in itself,” he says.

Tejura adds that the fact that users are demanding more personal customisations for their applications is adding to the problem. He says that the workplace is growing into an increasingly tech-savvy place, with the organisation itself providing software solutions to users, and users recommending and adding on personal preferences for solutions.

“As such, the variety of solutions deployed in a typical organisation, and the number of licences that it has to manage, is swelling to a critical point,” he says.

Perhaps more worryingly for CIOs, one of the biggest pain points to do with software licence management is cost. Huw Roberts, vice president of platform marketing at Bentley Systems, explains that perpetual licences can tie up a company’s technology equity, resulting in under-allocation in areas of need, reducing flexibility.

It’s clear that there are problems with managing software licences, then, and to add to CIOs’ woes, the cost of not staying on top of licences could be dear. There are legal issues associated with failing to keep up to date, resulting in serious repercussions for businesses.

“Under licensing and piracy are the most problems faced by companies when it comes to software. Companies often face a problem with the lack of awareness of constantly changing licence regulations and rules. Another problem faced with managing licenses are Company’s IT asset management aren’t always structured to include both hardware and software solutions implemented within the company,” explains Ashish Dass, president of 3i Infotech MEA.

Roberts adds that there are problems from a security standpoint, too — not being able to manage software licences could mean not having the most-up-to-date versions of software, which often plug security holes in older versions.

More software as a solution

Managing software licences is due to more solutions available as software, as consuming more solutions is a logical result of the increasingly critical role that technology is playing in the business world today. In response to this, many license management solutions are available out there. However, do they really solve the problem? Some companies have to go as far as building a dedicated section to manage licences.

“At SAP we have solved this problem holistically by changing the way we support our customers. As part of their traditional support contract, SAP customers get SAP Solution Manager, a central support and system management suite, to help companies reduce and centralise the management efforts of their solutions, including licences and application lifecycle management,” says Farhat.

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