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software license management @ your comp?

How do the software license situation in your company ?
In the place I work - 2000+ personnel - we always play catchup with the licenses - at the end of the year we usually purchase the delta between the installed base with the current number of licenses that we have - and due to budgetary constraint sometimes the number at the end of the year is still not match exactly. I know this is not ideal, but it's hard to predict the number of licenses required for next year and to enforce it (for example: telling the hot headed drilling engineer hey we dont have the license therefore you can't use this software - in our case we install and we buy later at the end of the year)

Jacky Soeryana
Thursday, November 6, 2003

this is a normal practice usually

Thursday, November 6, 2003

For "not ideal", read "illegal and dishonest". If you accept the legitimacy of "intellectual property" at all, then what you describe your company as doing is pretty much like walking into a shop, taking the stuff you want, and paying for at the end of the year -- except that "due to budgetary constraints" you don't actually pay for all of it. It seems to me that "due to budgetary constraints" is weasel-speak for "because it's cheaper to steal than to buy".

Now, I have a lot of sympathy with people who say that "intellectual property" is bunk. And I have a lot of sympathy with people who say "well, we just wouldn't have bought this at all if we hadn't been able to copy it for free". But that's plainly not your company's situation. You need the software, you are prepared to pay the price for most of your copies, ... but it's cheaper to steal than to buy, so you don't bother paying for all of them.

If you need to be able to install new copies at a moment's notice, then buy them in advance so that you can do so. It may be "hard to predict" the exact number that you'll need: so buy a couple extra and replenish when you're about to run out. This is not rocket science. But, still'n'all, it's cheaper to steal than to buy.

(I'm sure this isn't your fault personally, J.S.)

Gareth McCaughan
Thursday, November 6, 2003

My company is similar with the poster. We tried to do prediction by having discussion with IS coordinators (or business representatives) every October to have their inputs for what kind of software their department might need for the next year. These all added up to get the budget, add some for provision, confirm the budget to the big boss, and trim accordingly. Even by doing this the actual license condition never match the actual usage, because we usually buy bulk licenses every 3 months. To be honest (or dishonest) usually at the end of the year we are 90% off than the total we have to pay actually.

david feitl
Thursday, November 6, 2003

Gareth McCaughan: not so nice opinion piece, although I do know some people who feel the same way you do.

What technical solution or policy change do you think will solve their problem if buying-when-you-need them doesn't fit their schedule?

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, November 6, 2003

The problem is not a function of buying too few licences but of the inability of organisations to come to terms with buying licences when they need and those organisations they buy them from having flexible enough licencing to allow them to buy them when they want.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, November 6, 2003

I already suggested a change: buy enough that you are confident of having enough when you need it. The same as you do for things you can't copy so readily as software. What's so difficult about this?

I can see a situation in which this might hurt more than is reasonable. Suppose there's some kind of software you need rarely (say, an average of a couple of licences per year) and unpredictably (sometimes no need for three years, sometimes three all at once), and that it's terribly expensive (say, $100k per seat). In that case, having a stash of spare licences might not be feasible. But I can't think of any such software that you'd need in such a hurry that you couldn't buy it when needed.

What am I missing here?

(Oh, and why "opinion piece"? What did I say whose truth -- as opposed to convenience -- is seriously in doubt?)

Gareth McCaughan
Friday, November 7, 2003

"what you describe your company as doing is pretty much like walking into a shop, taking the stuff you want, and paying for at the end of the year"

In most businesses this is accepted practice. It's known as a "line of credit"

Mind you, it would be cheaper to actually pay for the license when you need it. If there was a streamlined purchase process in place so people could buy what they need when they need it then you wouldn't have to blow all those manhours at the end of the year audit.


Saturday, November 8, 2003

Well, sure, you can buy things on credit. So do the same thing with your software. Is *that* what the original author was talking about? It didn't look that way to me. Especially not the "only pay for some of them" bit.

And yes, if the fundamental problem is that the company's purchasing process is so elephantine that they can't buy something in less than (say) 3 months, then maybe they should look into fixing that :-).

Gareth McCaughan
Sunday, November 9, 2003

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