Adobe Audits on the Rise – Be Prepared

As we all know software audits can be challenging to deal with and with them on the rise there is now more chance of your organization receiving more than one request each year. There’s also a good chance that one of those requests will be from Adobe as it is currently in the top three vendors most likely to conduct an audit. Recently Adobe has audited a higher proportion of its customers than other vendors with similar revenue, but why? Like all other vendors, Adobe sees resolving noncompliance as a key objective and potential revenue stream (it is a commercial business after all!), but also Adobe’s products are believed to be the most common unlicensed software worldwide, something Adobe are no doubt keen to resolve. The move from perpetually-license Creative Suite to subscription licensed Creative Cloud could also be a driver as Adobe will want to ensure that all migrations are sufficiently licensed.

We would encourage Software Asset Managers to keep an eye on and manage situations that will increase their chances of an audit. These include, if software spend has decreased, if two organizations have merged, any situation where support hasn’t been renewed or if they suspect piracy. All of these reasons put your company on the vendors audit radar.

Reducing the risk of a request – put first things first

Check all your entitlement records are complete, the vendor may not have a complete list of all your software purchases as some may have been sourced through multiple resellers and there is a very slim chance that you will be able to access this data before the audit has taken place. Gartner have found that paid invoices are Adobe’s preferred way to prove your proof of entitlement.

Volume licensing is a great way to receive discount when you need to buy multiple licenses, but Adobe’s Volume Licensing portal will be the base for assumptions made regarding these entitlements. It is advised to check this portal carefully and bring in any resellers that were engaged with purchases to ensure all historical audit data is checked thoroughly as many Adobe customers have been found to have multiple contracts listed and you need to confirm you are not over compliant.

Some organizations will have purchased via volume licensing agreements for a number of years and the original contract may have started off as a consolidation of individual purchases into a single agreement. As a result, these single agreements may contain a large number of upgrade licenses. Remember, upgrades are only valid with an original full license and it may be difficult to locate the baseline license. If you have purchased the original license through retail then the paid invoice is sufficient proof of entitlement but remember to check these are upgraded to the latest version.

If an end user has purchased the products outside of the IT department they will have installed the software themselves and may have not made the SAM Manager aware. Where data is missing, Gartner recommends you check the employee expense forms to find the missing entitlements.

Another complication, particularly within media and publishing organizations, is the potential of multiple legacy installs per device. For example, an employee may have upgraded their Creative Suite to CS6 but retained prior versions of Photoshop or other products due to compatibility issues, this type of device configuration is relatively straightforward to license but looks extremely complex to discovery or if you only look at aggregated counts across your estate. It is essential to drill down to the unique deployment configurations of each device to determine how and why the software was deployed and how to license it optimally.

What’s next?

We can’t guarantee that just because you have followed the advice above that Adobe won’t come knocking (with 36% of all software audits performed by Adobe in 2012 there is a high chance) but the tips above will help you prepare for the audit and be in a strong position once the audit has been completed. If you do find any flaws in your proof of entitlement, make Adobe aware of them so these same issues don’t become drawn to attention again.

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Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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