Software Audits – Beware of the Unknown!

While most of our business is focused on helping companies optimize their licensing and avoid compliance risks there are times a company comes to us when they are in some stage of being audited (whether it’s called an audit or not for purposes of this posting I will refer to it as an audit anytime a third party is reviewing your licensing not at your behest).  We come across a number of areas that “surprise” customers to find out it’s a compliance issue.

Take a look at the following – if any of them apply to your company, take steps to resolve these:

  • Own one edition but a different edition is installed.  Do you own Microsoft Office Professional but have Microsoft Office Standard installed?  If so, you are out of compliance (and no, don’t count on them to look the other way). 
  • Changing the hardware that you run your Oracle database on without checking to see what it does to your core factor in determining processor licenses required. Did you move to a Sparc 4 from a Sparc 3? You just doubled your core factor…Oracle US License Agreements
  • Not understanding the minimum number of users that need to be licensed (contractual requirement versus actual usage). What did that (above mentioned) increase in processors just do to the number of users you’re required to license?
  • Server mobility in a virtual environment. For example, did you reassign your Microsoft Windows Server Standard licenses to your virtual environment? That’s fine (assuming they weren’t OEM licenses) as long as you are not using VMWare’s V-Motion (or similar technology).  You can only reassign licenses once every 90 days in the Microsoft server operating system world – you might accidentally be drastically increasing your licensing needs by “harvesting” that Standard license versus appropriately licensing the virtual environment.
  • Did you turn on enterprise functionality in your Microsoft SharePoint Server? If so, are other instances of SharePoint inheriting that enterprise functionality without your knowing it?  The enterprise functionality in Microsoft Sharepoint requires a Microsoft Sharepoint Enterprise CAL (client access license, this CAL is also contained in the Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite).
  • Do you have Mac’s in your environment? Are they accessing a Microsoft Windows OS? How are you licensing that?
  • Are you on an Enterprise Agreement (Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, etc) and not including all devices in your environment? Check your agreements, unless it specifically allows you to exclude something these agreements typically require you to license all devices – read your fine print!
  • Re-imaging devices using the wrong media. The quickest way to get out of compliance in a material way is to have the wrong media loaded to your image. Make sure this is in alignment and that a change control process is followed for any changes to the image including a licensing review.
  • Are you assuming downgrade rights? For example, most Attachmate products do not have downgrade rights unless you have maintenance. Don’t assume this right.

If you are asked (or told) that someone will be reviewing your licensing – get help before it starts. This is not the time to rely on your internal team unless they are licensing experts and stay current on all the publishers in your environment.

The ITAM Review has a great article series on the topic of “What REALLY Happens During an Audit”, I recommend reading it whether you’re going through one or just looking for more information.

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