I was lucky enough to visit Utrecht in the Netherlands recently to see the nice folks from b.lay, one of the winners of the ITAM Review 2015 Excellence Awards (Nominations are open for 2016 here). We spent some time recording videos in preparation for our conferences later this year; I look forward to sharing these with you over the coming months.
One of the interesting trends we discussed was that of customers explicitly detailing license measurement metrics in contracts, especially related to audits.
In layman’s terms: if you insist on auditing us, how will we measure consumption for that audit?
This is a really positive trend; customers detailing exactly how consumption is measured for license metrics, even going as far as detailing the exact executable or files that need to be measured.
This approach might seem a little extreme, but frankly software licensing is an unregulated industry and it is often difficult to tell the difference between genuine infringements of intellectual property and over zealous sales reps and biased auditors.
License metrics, product use rights and how to measure consumption should either be public domain or detailed in the contract. The benefits of this approach are:
An observation from research with the Campaign for Clear Licensing suggests that large software publishers, desperate for revenue, are exploiting the greyness in their (typically old and not fit for purpose) contracts.
If not scrutinized prior to purchase or reviewed regularly, contracts and license terms can become ambiguous and open to interpretation. When greyness exists and the customer is unprepared or unaware, software publishers can drive their own commercial agenda to exploit the greyness.
Software publishers can’t make money from stable, feature rich perpetual licensing products in the longer term. A successful product kills the long-term business model.
Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle and Adobe are all desperately trying to transition their business models to cloud subscriptions of some form. This is nothing to do with cloud or technology and is everything to do with share price. Shareholders like ongoing, predictable recurring revenue.
A great case study of this is Adobe who has a dated, mature set of products, they’ve done a great job of convincing customers to continue paying every year for software they already own by calling it ‘cloud’.
Greyness leaves you open to this cloud trick to cover up past mistakes, lack of knowledge or mismanagement of software.
The typical audit-deal-cloud rinse cycle:
If you fail to sharpen your contracts and continue to mismanage software, you’ll get lumbered with cloud product you don’t need.
Do you agree? Can you recommend any other approaches for reducing greyness and avoiding getting sucked into cloud?