Software Asset Management (SAM) is a complex process that enables organizations to gain control of their software estate from both a license compliance and financial standpoint.
But, where do these cost savings come from? Reharvesting unused licenses and recycling licenses from retired hardware are techniques that yield significant savings. Another approach that is often overlooked is the application of product use rights (PUR) to reduce initial license purchase, true-up and renewal costs.
Part 2 – Common Product Use Rights
Now that we have introduced the above license agreement alphabet soup, let’s take a look at some common product use rights. These include: upgrade, downgrade, second use, virtual machine use, and multiple versions rights. Upgrade rights allow the organization to use the latest version of the software as soon as it becomes available, at no additional cost. This right is provided by Software Assurance (SA) which is included in all Enterprise agreements.
A good way to purchase SA is only on selected products and for agreements (e.g. Select) that are due to expire. This is a complex way of managing agreements, but allows the organization to keep the cost of upgrades on specific products to a minimum.
Downgrade rights allow you to purchase the license to a newer version of the software, but run an older version on your computer. Many businesses have, for example, purchased Visio 2007, but have installed and run Visio 2003 on their desktop computers. Unless you apply downgrade rights in your SAM system, it is difficult to reconcile the Visio 2007 license purchases against the installed inventory. This can result in what appears to be an over-purchase of Visio 2007 licenses and a license breach for Visio 2003.
The multiple versions right allows the organization to run more than one version of the software on the same computer. Application of this right means that you won’t be liable for additional licenses during a true-up, as would be the case if you simply counted and compared installations to purchases. The simple counting method would consume two licenses for two versions of the same software on any single computer, while the PUR approach would consume only one.
Virtual environment use rights allow an application or OS to be installed and used on a physical machine, as well as one or more virtual machines (VM’s). Virtualization has become very popular with the advent of free VM players from companies like VMware. And datacenter server virtualization has been one of the hottest trends in IT due to the hardware and energy cost savings involved. But with virtualization comes manifold software license management challenges—it’s very difficult to manually track VM’s and the software running on them. Not only do you have to know what applications are installed on each VM, you also need to know about the underlying hardware in the host server, depending on the license type in effect—for example, a processor based license requires detailed knowledge of the server hardware. Furthermore, different versions and editions of software have different virtual use rights, making the license management job even harder.
And lastly, second use rights allow the user to have one copy of the software on their desktop at work, and a second copy on their laptop or home computer. MS Select agreements provide this right, but EA do not. Once again, the “counting and comparing” method of license reconciliation would lead your organization to believe that it has many more copies of the software installed than licenses purchased when users have both a desktop and laptop computer with the same application installed.
It’s easy to see that product use rights can significantly impact an enterprise’s license position. Organizations must understand PURs and take full advantage of their benefits to avoid over-spending on licenses and associated maintenance.