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CIO Jury: 'Cynical' licence audits under fire

Is it about tackling piracy or just a money-making tool?

Corporate IT users have accused technology suppliers of cynically using software licence auditing as a tool to squeeze more revenue out of buyers.

Members of IT user group the Corporate IT Forum are complaining that the number of audit demands are getting out of hand and are more about increasing revenue than actually tackling piracy.

But more than half of silicon.com's CIO Jury IT user panel disagreed with the claim that vendors are getting too heavy-handed with software licence audits.

Ken Davis, head of IT at TV channel Five, said: "It's true that suppliers can use audits as a tool to increase revenue. However, software audits, such as those carried out by the Federation Against Software Theft, are actually very helpful in overall software management and asset tracking. If IT departments keep a good handle of software management then the opportunity for suppliers to use audits to leverage revenue isn't available."

Richard Steel, CIO at the London Borough of Newham, said: "It's their judgement call. If they suspect that we are abusing licensing conditions, then we cannot blame them for wanting to raise awareness of, and address the problem. If, on the other hand, our software inventories are well-managed and comply with all relevant licensing conditions, then they cannot blame us for feeling aggrieved at any inconvenience we suffer, and taking that into account in any future prospective dealings with them."

One solution to software licence audits, of course, is open source. Paul Broom, IT director at 192.com, said: "Use open source and forget about this altogether - but do chip in for anything you use in anger and make money from."

But other CIO Jurors hit out at suppliers over licence audits. Graham Yellowley, director of technology services at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International, said: "Software audits are becoming increasingly frequent and extremely time-consuming. There appears to be no bounds to this type of audit and often the suppliers have fewer records of original purchases than the consumer."

Rorie Devine, CTO at Betfair, added: "Fundamentally a software audit demonstrates a lack of trust. Software suppliers should be trying to build a win-win partnership with their customers."

Today's CIO Jury was...

Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Paul Broom, IT director, 192.com
Ken Davis, head of IT, Five
Rorie Devine, CTO, Betfair
Ric Francis, operations director, the Post Office
Colin Moore, head of IS, Department for Education and Skills
Jacques Rene, CTO, Ascend Aerospace
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council
Richard Steel, CIO, London Borough of Newham
David Supple, head of IT and creative services, Ecotec
Ted Woodhouse, director of IT strategy, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Graham Yellowley, director of technology services, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International

Want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com

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