In the age of cloud computing, some would think that software licensing audits is non existent. However, companies such as Microsoft have created policies to ensure that their products are protected.
By knowing what auditing problems that can occur in your business, you can protect yourself from paying additional money in settlement fees.
How Come I Received an Audit?
Software licensing audit help established brands protect their reputation and make easy money. Usually, the customer pays for the cost, unless they are spotted to be within 5% compliance. (While this is on the low side; customers can purchase as much surplus/unused licenses they want).
Most software vendors plan to perform some form of audit on their high-end customers once every three years. Although there are some who tend to perform them annually. This process is completed by a third-party auditor or through a self-assessment. In a self-assessment, the customer has to scan the environment and report deployed software.
Then, the company will compare this self-assessment to their records. If there are any compliance issues, the customer will have to purchase the license(s). This is often done without any discounts to punish them for not buying the license beforehand.
The current methods and practice for performing audits has been a lucrative option for Microsoft. However, they fail to capture all or even the most offenders. There are situations which the software vendor doesn’t audit certain customers due to various reasons.
Sometimes software licensing audits can be costly for vendors, as there’s no opportunity to find unlicensed software, even if they’re using it unintentionally. Even for users who know that audits might be procedural on the vendor’s part, creating a complete audit can be disruptive and the results are pretty costly.
Can I Prevent Software Audits?
Today, software audits are used to help the vendor see what’s being deployed within an organization’s datacenter. But, what if the software is deployed in the cloud? Microsoft, in this case, host products such as Microsoft Office on their own servers. This increases the visibility of users accessing the software and how its used.
This could mean the same for Microsoft products that reside on rival cloud service providers, like AWS. But if the customer’s estate is fully hosted by Microsoft, it might change the entire auditing process.
This process might be structured in multiple ways, but if the services and products were placed on Mircrosoft’s servers, Microsoft then has the ability to track and identify devices and users.
Of course, there are going to be a few problems in this scenario, but usually they can be addressed in the boilerplate license agreements.
A Microsoft scenario seems like it would be easy to create and implement. This would benefit customers by reducing fears in the audit and increasing compliance. Microsoft benefits by having a increased customer compliance and ensures that strategic customers who are rarely auditing stay in line with their licensing policies as well.
Understand that the longevity of your business depends on how you can prevent or minimalize software licensing audits. By being able to spot the problems beforehand, you’ll ensure that all of your software is compliant with Microsoft’s policies. So make sure you take care of your organization’s compliance to prevent unexpected expenses in the future.