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The BSA (Business Software alliance) organization runs a cool widget on their site – They call it the Global Software Piracy Study. It shows the globe divided to political territories. The user can select a country and see the rate of software piracy resident in that country. I admit I find it rather amusing to bet the piracy rate per territory, but apparently BSA officers don’t see the funny side in it. This is the drive for stepping up software license audits. As software auditing is becoming ubiquitous, organizations around the world turn to Software Asset Management (SAM) tools to help them come through what some IT members would consider a nightmare.

Strict abiding to license agreements may not be sufficient when it comes to keeping track of software license compliance; As licensing options become increasingly complex, the average honest license administrator may inadvertently slip out of compliance. Here is a nice post in the ITAM review, going into some detail on the reasons for such slips.

In short, the reasons are numerous, and can be attributed to :

Structural changes in the organization:

  • Unification and splitting of license pools.
  • Shift of responsibility for license compliance and inventory keeping between IT personnel.
  • Migration to other license servers.

Unclear restrictions imposed by the license agreement:

  • Change between different license versions.
  • What was right for the previous version may not be OK for the current one.
  • Restrictions that were signed upon in an antecedent licensing agreement.

The human factor:

  • Inexperienced IT personnel.
  • Unclear notion of the license inventory.
  • End users non-compliance with the organization’s software regulations.

These types of triggers for software compliance glitches are addressed by software license monitoring tools such as OpenLM:

  • OpenLM was designed to absorb drifts in license compliance caused by structural changes in the organization. It can interface multiple license managers over WAN or LAN, and assign license usage constraints according to licensing policies.

  • OpenLM provides clear accounts of license availability thus eliminating errors that stem from lack of “How many of these do we actually have” and

  • Lifting mundane tasks off the shoulders of license managers and system administrators, thus mitigating the effect of human error.