As part of this month’s SAMPanel debate May Turnbull, a SAM Consultant with EasySAM gave her view on the question “How can Software Vendors Simplify their Software Licensing Rules?”
As software vendors grow, adapt and expand, the need to alter and adopt different products and their licensing metrics become a necessary evil. The result has been a variety of different licensing models and metrics that unnecessarily complicate things. There are a lot of manufacturers out there that are aware of this issue and are attempting to simplify their licensing ‘rules’. Without delving into too many vendor-specifics, we feel that this can generally be achieved by any one of the following:
Having too many different editions and then various metrics available for those editions, creates confusion amongst buyers. Oracle for example have accrued over 80 different license metrics down the years. They are not the only ones, IBM for one certainly have their own fair share of user variations (authorized, concurrent, floating, UVUs), not to mention their other metrics available (PVUs, RVUs, MSUs, concurrent sessions).
And although sometimes metrics appear relatively simple, being able to relate roles into these metrics can sometimes be quite difficult – take SAP’s User metrics for example. You can even get editions where there aren’t any functional differences, just different licensing rules. We find a good example of this with Microsoft Windows Server Datacenter and often discover people accidentally installing this on standalone devices with no virtualization. The only difference between Standard and Datacenter here is the unlimited virtualization factor AND of course the price.
Removing Metrics that are hard to manage/calculate
Although metrics like CALs (Client Access Licenses) have proved very cost effective in the past, customers that don’t find themselves with the right tools and procedures in place to manage/report on this access, can find themselves in pretty sticky situations. If this access can’t be quantified to the vendor, often worst case is imposed leaving the company having to license all of its devices/users. Organizations also don’t feel any great confidence around what access needs CALs and what doesn’t. A common example is that people aren’t often aware that you require Microsoft Windows Server CALs for mobile phones authentication to the network or for email.
Complicated storage and hardware based metrics should also be revisited. In a nutshell, any metrics/licensing rules that customers find hard to calculation/manage, or breed doubt can only push them toward alternative products that indicate less risk. At the end of the day, people just don’t want to feel like their software vendor is trying to catch them out.
Allow more flexibility where it counts
There are certainly some areas of licensing rules that vendors could be more flexible around. For example, common sense says that version and edition downgrades should be allowed across all vendors as the higher versions/editions cost the organization more money that the lower versions/editions they would like to cover. Another area that we would like to see more lax rules around is Failovers/Disaster Recovery (DR). We are certainly not suggesting that this be relaxed to a point of abuse…but slightly more relaxed attitudes around failovers can only do well for customer relationships.
Language in contracts and licensing terms need to be standardized. Jargon should be set at a minimum and vendors shouldn’t adopt different perceptions of terms from others. A good example of this is with IBM. IBM uses the word processor to indicate a core as opposed to a chip/socket. As a chip/socket can contain multiple cores, you can see how confusing this can be when trying to calculate your PVU.
What can you do?
The key thing here is to make sure you have strong controls and license governance in place. In spite of progress made by the software vendors towards simplifying licensing complexity, it is unlikely this will dramatically change over the next few years. Plus organizations need to maintain compliance for their existing license set, complexity and all. Software Asset Management can provide the key data to allow the end user community to retain control over license compliance. From monitoring application deployment and usage across the network to assigning entitlement, SAM tools, coupled with an experienced SAM practitioner can be the difference between license compliance and sleepless nights!
About The Author
May Turnbull is a SAMConsultant with EasySAM. EasySAM is a specialist software and hardware asset management consultancy. With a combined audit & compliance experience in excess of 60 years, the EasySAM team has successfully delivered over 400 customer engagements, currently manage software compliance for 60 customers (with an average estate size of 1,410 devices) and have provided measured cost savings exceeding £31m to our customers. Our main strengths in this competitive market are our vendor independence and our focus solely on SAM as opposed to licensing