How much of a challenge really is the Entitlement side of the software license compliance equation?

Software license compliance is very much a two sided equation of usage versus entitlement.  The understanding of these two sides has similar levels of complexity and challenges in calculating. Often organizations can be distracted by the perceived capabilities of a license management tool and dramatically underestimate both the level of effort and licensing know-how that is still required to get the most from the chosen solution (let’s be clear here, NO license management tool offers 100% automation, the literally thousands of different software licensing schemes make this virtually impossible!).

Specifically, there are two key factors that need to be considered when it comes to understanding the time and effort required to initially populate or import legacy licensing data and then the on-going administrative overhead associated with adding subsequent licenses on a continual basis.  The second is the level of software licensing expertise required to actively use the information now stored in the license management tool to help optimize the organization’s licensing position.  While some licenses are clear-cut in terms of how they can be used, others are much less so and require the administrator to understand and interpret the individual ‘context’ in which the license is being consumed.

For example here are some common pitfalls often over-looked when initially selecting a license management solution:

1. Will I have to map each line of entitlement to an installed product alias? 
Mass importing of data is typically straightforward but will the license management tool automatically map entitlement lines to dictionary descriptions to facilitate reconciliation against actual installed software? If the end user has to do this, is there time involved and potential for error?

2. Will the license management tool map licenses with maintenance to a product version or must I do this based upon the expiry date of the maintenance?

Many entitlements are acquired with maintenance and entitlement to install is based upon the expiry date. For expired maintenance items will the license management tool calculate what version you can install or will you have to do this yourself?

3. Will the tool automatically update licenses with active maintenance when a new version is released and the entitlement increase?

If your maintenance is active and a newer release of the software you have maintained becomes available will your license management tool automatically update your entitlement?

4. Will the license management tool automatically map upgrades and understand maintenance renewals or must I do this for each and every entitlement entry?

Most license management tools understand that maintenance only and upgrade licenses require base licenses but not all can automatically track and assign bases.  If your chosen license management tool does not have this capability do you have the knowledge and time required to do this task, is there a chance of error?

5. Will the license management tool determine the metric of install I need to measure (per processor, per device, per CPU, per user etc)?

It is critical that the measurement metric is captured in order to ensure that the license management tool demands appropriate usage detail to prevent occasions such as expensive per processor licenses being allocated against a device instance. This is also critical in assigning base licenses to maintenance (where say SQL Processor SA should demand a SQL Processor base). Will your license management tool enforce this or will it be your responsibility?

There are a number of other areas like downgrade rights and grandfathering entitlements from one version to another, where a license management tool’s automation, license logic and governance can dramatically eradicate risk of human error. Where this automation is lacking, serious consideration should be given to the length of time involved with the population of license data and any risks that may arise from your interpretation of that data.

Choosing a license management tool is inevitably going to involve finding a balance between acquisition cost, overhead, total cost of ownership and whether or not your organization has the skills to actually use the product (or indeed whether expensive external skills will need to be bought in). Focusing on the features and workflows that best meet your organization’s needs, rather than being blinded by bells and whistles, could save a lot of frustration further down the line!

For more information contact License Dashboard.

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Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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