Vendors clamp down on licence compliance

Vendors have upped their use of software audits in recent months in a desperate bid to generate additional revenue from existing users.

Gartner has issued a formal warning to users about the audit push enforced by vendors to determine whether users are complying with their licensing agreements.

While this method of enforcement has traditionally been applied by the likes of Oracle and Microsoft, users claim other software vendors are pushing ahead with more audits.

Gartner analyst Jane Disbrow believes IT departments generally do a lousy job of monitoring their software agreements.

"If your tech support people are like most tech support people, record-keeping is not their forte," she said.

Zurich Financial Services Australia IT project and team manager Phillip Coleman said corporate IT departments face a mammoth challenge in trying to keep licensing arrangements current, precise and documented in preparation for internal and vendor-led audits.

With more than 1300 employees nationally and business applications proliferating across different departments, Coleman said it is hard to keep track of what's running and if those versions are licensed correctly.

While the company has IT staff to track the organisation's desktop software usage and licensing arrangements, Coleman believes vendors are "never going to be able to fully police" licensing, adding: "Software auditing is a difficult [process] to perfect."

While Micrososft and Oracle claim the number of customer audits it conducts remains steady, Candle Corporation confirmed it has become much more aggressive about trying to curb piracy of its software.

Since launching a formal program a year ago, Candle has audited more than 1000 of its 5000 customers, said Steve Gerrity, assistant vice president of contracts and administration.

"We view audits as a cost-effective way to defend our intellectual property," Gerrity said. But he added that Candle has seen an increase of 1 to 2 per cent in revenue as a result of the audit program.

Security software vendor Network Associates' director of antipiracy, Peter Beruk, said the company has also recently increased the number of compliance-related audits it is conducting. - with Thomas Hoffman

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