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How do you manage software licenses?

By jdclyde ·
What do you guys do to manage software licenses?

Is there documentation you give your employees explaining the company policy?

We're doing a software audit for the site right now and I need to put something together to "educate" the staff on why we're doing this and the ramifications of this not being done.

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another optional inventory tool

by lasersteel In reply to Other products

we have used for our inventory gathering AuditBaseline/AuditServer and it was fast and very low cost, under $US 300 for over 5,000 PCs when we bought a licence over 2 years ago. Downside was it only works on Windows boxes and not Unix/Linux and didn't have any reporting embedded (it captures all executables and identifies as many as it can using WMI without any degradation of systems). The output files were CSV/RTF and this allowed us to use Crystal Reports to summarize and slice and dice the data by node/department/application. The good part was we could build our own SQL database that allowed us to tailor what we wanted to match our asset management records. Its worth a look but its not for those who want an out of the box solution.

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The BSA software?

by gshollingsworth In reply to How do you manage softwar ...

Didn't the BSA (Business Software Alliance, not the Boy Scouts or the motorcycle company) have a free inventory tool? I thought it was basically the same as what they would use during one of their audits.

If I were tasked with the software inventory, I would run that in addition to any other tool(s) I would prefer to use. My reasoning is that I would not want to be thinking everything is in order, but have a report from the BSA tool say otherwise during a BSA audit. I know some of the alternatives are recognized by the BSA and they will use reports from those if you have one.

Two other related items I would like to mention. First, how are all the valid/invalid uses from the licenses reconciled with the inventory? Some licenses permit one install per machine and no transfer to another. There are many variations on licensing even for the same piece of software. What about offline machines? I have seen some reports claim a piece of software was still installed after it had been uninstalled.

Second. Another good reason to know what you have installed is managing vulnerability patching. It doesn't matter if the software is free or not, vulerabilities come with no extra charge except managing the patching.

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No Licenses

by Thumper1 In reply to How do you manage softwar ...

When I started a new position as a Network Admin, one of the fist things I did was to look at the software licenses. When I asked the guy who I was replacing, he got a little vague, saying "Well, you know, you have to fudge a little." Upon investigation, I learned that the reason I couldn't find the licenses was because there were none. They had four copies of Windows 2000, a couple of copies of office, (Not '03). I did an immediate audit of all software installed on the 50 pc's, figured up what we needed to purchase and presented these findings to management. When they realized how far hung out we were, they were shocked and appaled. To management's credit, the planned network upgrade was put on hold until software licenses were acquired.

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Past experience

by tcon999 In reply to No Licenses

Was neck deep in compliance at a company several years ago after a sister company had a full blown audit by Microsoft. They got dinged a bit (about $20K), but not too bad considering. Problem was a lot of man hours were spent finding proof for all the licenses, and I mean a lot of hours. We were worried we would be audited due to association so we did the following with full management approval. Keep in mind that the company did not promote illegal copies, but was growing fast and did not put emphasis on keeping track. The sister company was just moving too fast and techs were just loading standard ghost copies and not keeping accurate track of what was being loaded.

Since the majority of the issue was MS licenses we had one team scrounge for every software certificate (including non-MS) they could find. Licenses of like kind were bundled into packages of 25, tape wrapped for easy counting and stored. Less than 25 copies were put in manila folders and filed. A running inventory count was kept for each license type.

We then did three separate inventory control audits on PC's over three months using software that I can't remember, but it did take a while to export the data in Access. Once in Access we ran summary reports and matched to physical inventory. Additional copies were purchased where necessary to cover installed copies. If it was an older version that was no longer available, we bought something of like kind, but newer to cover it. We also learned that non-transferable licenses are much more difficult to track. Transferable licenses make tracking much easier and are worth it in the long run since there is lot less to prove in the event of an audit.

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A good start

by mwitthaus In reply to No Licenses

Understanding the number of installs is a good first step, but before purchasing licenses to get legal, be sure to conduct a thorough usage audit and uninstall unused applications.

There are good tools available; the best is Novell's ZENworks Asset Management 7.0, which rolls up this information very quickly in tabular format showing installed, used and unused license information. Altiris and CA also offer solutions.

This approach is essential for almost all applications, especially suites. Don't upgrade a professional suite, for example, if usage patterns show that only the Standard components are actively used. Replace suites with standalone versions where appropriate.

The cost savings (strange how rarely that subject gets play on the various industry sites like BSA and SIIA) are potentially enormous.

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A few suggestions

by diego.dias In reply to How do you manage softwar ...

Hi JD!

At my company we took some action that i'll like tio share with you

- When the users logon, we put a text box (via Active Directory policy) the text of our policy;
_ When he open his browser, again we show our software licensing e internet access policy;


Diego Dias, Brazil

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A tough one

by Software Guy In reply to How do you manage softwar ...

Hi JD. I am the "Software Licensing Analyst" in my organization. We have close to 6000 computers that we have to ensure are compliant. The firs thing we did was lock all the networked computers down so that only administrators could install software.

Next, I created a policy that only "authorized" software would be installed on a computer. Requests go to me and I create a task for the "Field Techs" to install the software once a license is purchased.

Luckily, we were just about to convert all of our PC's over to WinXP, so each one of them were going to be reimaged. The Field Techs only install the software that has a corresponding task.

If an end user wanted some other software installed, the Field Tech told them to fill in a software request form. I would then ask if the user had a license. If they couldn't supply one, they would have to purchase an "upgraded" version of the software to run on XP.

I create each task in a program called Task+ (for use in a medical environment - not the best program, but it does what I need it to). It is a database of sorts used by our Help Desk to track problems. The title of task includes the PC name and the software title. The task title can be searched.

In each task, I include the PO number of the software and any serial numbers. As only a limited number of people have access to this database, serial numbers are fairly secure.

If the software is no longer required on a user's PC, the title changes from the original PC name to "Spare" and then I can re-issue it.

We are about 98% compliant, I would guess, but we need something to replace the Task+ system. Help Desk is moving to a different system.

By the way, it has taken me about 5 years to get the Field Techs and other people with administrator access to get on board with this process. Now that all most all the PC's have converted, I am confident that we have a handle on all the software.

The added benifit to this "Nazi" control of software is that I control what is purchased and can often get much better deals through bulk purchasing than the individuals can get by all buying the software themselves. Site licenses are the way to go with our organization.

We install most of the common software using Altiris.

As for Documentation on company policy, we pirated information from It is the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft. It's a great source of information and even has sample letters.

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Part CYA, part tracking

by Kdoyle In reply to How do you manage softwar ...

We keep a database of licenses and have a notebook with license certificates.

I also put out a bulletin to remind our users what is allowed. In short --
? No software brought from home or downloaded without IT authorization
? Don?t copy software from the network to your hard drive
? IT must participate in the installation of ANY software
? IT Manager must approve all software purchases
? IT is the custodian of all software media

Each bullet point is explained further in the bulletin and it is re-issued each year with minor tweaking.

We also randomly run audits, but it?s manual. If we find something that shouldn?t be there I let the department head know what it is and who had it. I also try to point out the fines that could be levied, and the possibility of jail time. We then keep an ?eye? on the user to see that it doesn?t happen again.

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Managing the Upper Echelon

by lasersteel In reply to Part CYA, part tracking

So how did the upper echelon (senior management) take the pain? In sites I've worked at some of the problems "come from above" due to senior execs wanting to cut corners, not pay for enough (buy the right #) licenses or just plain stupid (blatant copying) in their installations on their notebooks and desktops. My work experience has been these can be areas that cause a lot of grief..... at 2 sites (one was a government agency) I quit due to management refusing to acknowledge the issues involved and being pressured to follow their lead. Be intersting to hear if others have similar experiences.

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Access works for us

by bbarnes In reply to How do you manage softwar ...

We have an MDB file with several tables; one for computers (with serial numbers), another for installed hardware, another for installed software (with license numbers), another with network switch assignments, and still another with the physical wiring. It all is related via a form and a bunch of queries and reports.

It's a thing of beauty.

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