Prepare for audits with proactive Software Asset Management (SAM)

27 jan '16 - Richard Spithoven - share: LinkedIN Mail

Preparing for software audits is a topic that we addressed many times in speech and in writing. Receiving notice of an audit doesn’t necessarily mean your organization is suspected of being out of compliance. Large software publishers such as Microsoft®, Oracle® and others typically demand some form of audit at least once every three years.

Usually it takes the guise of a ‘self-assessment’ in which the organization is required (!) to conduct an inventory of all applicable installed software and usage, and disclose to the licensor any type of deployment. The data will be compared with your company’s entitlements to determine whether the licensee is compliant with the terms of their agreement.

Since some type of audit is almost inevitable it’s important to proactively prepare, rather than wait for that dreaded notification and endure an expensive last minute exercise during which you may learn about your vulnerabilities and have those with the power impose penalties. 

Proactive and effective Software Asset Management (SAM) should be a priority for any organization. The more you spend or rely upon software, the higher SAM should rank on your agenda. Consider the steps that will be taken during an audit and periodically perform them before you are contacted by the software publisher. Your annual true-up date is a good time to do this since you’ll need the data at that time anyway.

In the case of Microsoft, I strongly suggest starting with the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit. It may not provide an exhaustive report of inventory and usage, but it offers a good baseline and since it’s a Microsoft tool the initial results are rarely challenged. The MAP Toolkit includes a Software Usage Tracking feature to track devices and users.

Your assessment of software usage should be compared with your entitlements. The best way to do this is to obtain a License Statement from your reseller or the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Make sure to use a current License Statement, rather than rely upon your own records since Microsoft will use that statement for an audit. Some of the software in your environment may be detected by the MAP tool while failing to appear on the License Statement such as OEM Windows which was preinstalled on PCs, or retail purchases.

Performing a gap analysis between software usage and entitlements can be very complex but it’s by far the best way to ensure compliance. Whether an organization chooses to do this themselves or hires experts is their decision. However doing so proactively before being notified of an audit should be an integral part of any organization’s IT management practice.

If you are in need of specialist knowledge,  a structured license administration and a software license management approach, feel free to contact B-lay. We will help you make software compliance an exciting opportunity to improve your business!

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