For those anticipating a software license audit in the next year or so, the constant worry is certainly that the number of licenses purchased will deviate from the number of software applications actually used. Without a solid overview of the relation between purchased licenses and those actually being used, an organization runs the risk of incurring a substantial fine from their software vendor. Added to which, software costs can turn out higher than necessary as some licenses may not be used at all.
This is a common problem for many organizations, and occurs when new employees enter service and the privileges of employees in similar functions are copied to their user accounts. This often includes rights to applications the employee may not actually need. In other cases, temporary access rights to applications that employees require for a particular project are not revoked once the project has been completed. Or worse still, accounts by employees who have left employment are not terminated. As such, there are a number of reasons why the number of licenses used may not match the number of licenses purchased.
To solve this problem and mitigate management of license costs while preparing for software license audits, there are several easy and available options:
Employ automated user provisioning and role-based access control tools: Using the human resources system as the source for creating, modifying and removing user accounts and authorizations, employees can be assigned temporary access to the network and the applications they need. In the licensing context, this ensures that the rights of former employees are revoked in a timely fashion. Combined with role-based access control (RBAC) – a solution that lets administrators assign rights based on the role or title of employees – rights will only be assigned once consensus has been reached on the applications that employees actually require for their daily work.
Use dashboards to monitor software access and activity: Provide IT managers, systems administrators and administrators with a dashboard that lists the number of times an application has been launched by an employee, the number of minutes the application has been used, as well as the idle time in minutes. If an application remains unused for a long period, the application can be revoked or the user can be given a warning. The total license costs and the status of used applications can be mapped out using an interface with a facility management system or IT service management system.
Passive auditing: Periodically communicate with managers and send them an overview of the rights and applications to which his or her team has access. This reporting can take place, for instance, once every three months, once a year, etc. (for the software license audit). Managers can thus conveniently check whether everything is in order and give their approval. They can also make changes, which will be implemented directly.
Making a long story short, when expecting a software license audit in the future and when needing to prevent fines or to cut license costs, make sure to take the right precautions, most of which are simple to implement and can save organizations a great deal of cash associated with software fines or for paying for unused licenses.
Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever, an identity and access management vendor.