Microsoft’s software license compliance strategy is avoiding the “overt” software license audit....
It’s a popular myth that software license compliance issues evaporate with your move to the cloud. The software vendor hosts all your resources, they can see and monitor all your activity, and they have built technical barriers to prevent you and your users from crossing licensing boundaries. Right?
Wrong! In many cases, those technical barriers do not exist, meaning that it’s just as easy to run afoul of your licenses in the cloud as it is on-premises. But even with technical barriers, there are still ample opportunities in the cloud for falling into software license compliance issues.
Software license compliance myths, tall tales, and superstitions
1. Software vendors will stop you from overconsumption
The Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s automatic tracking of social media mentions does not stop tracking once you reach the limit on your mentions. It keeps going, so an unexpectedly successful marketing campaign can easily cancel out your good fortune by tripling or quadrupling your costs. Every tracked mention over your limit will cost you extra. If you have a Basic subscription, for instance, but your campaign exceeds the 20K tracked monthly mentions, you might end up paying for 250K instead at three times the price.
2. You can use your cloud subscription everywhere
Some software licenses restrict consumption based on geographical location. Security and privacy concerns may play a role since local and regional standards can vary greatly.
Some vendors, like Salesforce, offer differently tiered licenses for new and emerging markets, which are subject to numerous infrastructural hurdles. By doing so, Salesforce hopes to encourage economic development in these markets by supporting local entrepreneurs and gain a foothold in these markets.
But if you assign one of those licenses to a colleague in an economically-developed region, you could face stiff fees and penalties.
3. Software vendors will stop you from using services you’re not entitled to
Microsoft Office 365 customers can make administrative changes to their environment by activating and deactivating services at the domain/tenant/group level. For instance, an administrator can enable Azure Threat Protection at the domain level. Once it’s enabled, it will cover every user in the domain, including users who don’t have the right license.
The unlicensed services can be deactivated on a per-user basis of course, but if you don’t have a quick and convenient way to find out who isn’t licensed, you could lose significant time in manual searches or face non-compliance fees in a true-up.
4. You can’t accidentally use expired solutions
With some software vendors, you can continue using the service even if you don’t have an active subscription. This is again a problem of non-existent technical barriers.
For instance, if you have 99 expired Office 365 subscriptions and one active subscription, your 99 users can still access their expired subscriptions. Without that one active subscription, the door to the Office 365 environment would close and no one would be able to use their expired subscriptions. But it takes just the tiniest crack for everyone to get into the environment.
And as users come in, unbudgeted fees piles up.
Bust software license compliance risks with cloud software asset management
Software license management is as important in the cloud as it is on-premises. Without it, you can run into significant and expensive compliance issues, that can affect not just your bottom line but your organization’s ability to deliver on their business goals.
The only way to keep cloud costs down and to stay compliant is to do cloud software asset management:
- Know your terms and conditions.
- Monitor usage, storage, and other (individual) limits.
- Manage users actively and centrally.
- Deactivate unused/expired accounts.
- Establish a Software Asset Management program.
- Get a tool and automate.
Protect the business value of your cloud investment by starting a cloud Software Asset Management program today.
Carlos Pereira is Vendor Competence Manager for Cloud Solutions at Aspera. Prior to joining Aspera in 2017, he worked as an escalation manager for Enterprise customers in the Office 365 team, and later as a Microsoft Licensing Specialist. He supported internal Microsoft staff on Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreement rules and product usage rights. Aspera and all other USU Solutions were united under the USU brand in 2021.