Apr 18 2014

New Challenges in Software Management

IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software compliance.

Shifting application delivery models pose a challenge to software license and asset management programs. Virtualized environments, cloud-based services — including software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications — and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) mobile application scenarios are forcing organizations to scramble to manage new license models.

On the virtualization side, organizations face complex licensing schemes based on physical resources allocated to virtual machines. But virtualized environments cloud the relationship between software and hardware. Audit solutions may fail to identify software installed on virtual machines or to uncover the relationship between a virtual machine and physical host. Because these relationships often must be measured manually, sometimes by expensive consultants, it simply never gets done.

The cost of failure can be high. Organizations that conduct inaccurate audits and put the wrong kind of license against a database can easily face costs that range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cloud-based services turn the virtualization challenge on its head. Here, compliance isn’t the issue as much as cost optimization. Cloud vendor contracts prevent organizations from using more software than they’ve licensed, but do little to prevent organizations from owning more licenses than they use. Software tailored to monitoring cloud-based application activity can help determine if a company is overprovisioned.

Shelfware and overprovisioning are constant concerns with cloud-based software. To avoid carrying too many licenses, managers must be disciplined in deleting virtual machines that are spun up by individuals or departments. Failure to do so risks carrying large numbers of so-called “orphaned” virtual machines that consume licenses and inflate cost.

The outlook for BYOD mobile applications may be murkiest of all. Mobile device usage in the enterprise is exploding. A global survey of 1,700 senior IT decision-makers by Citrix Systems found that 74 percent allow or encourage use of personal mobile devices in the enterprise.

Yet, BYOD presents a compliance management challenge. In theory, employee-owned applications that connect to the corporate network may be subject to corporate licensing rules. For instance, if an employee uses a BYOD device to check work email while logged on to the corporate network, the organization needs to own a license for the app on that device, even if the employee has a personal license of his own.

Some organizations are considering enterprise app stores, modeled after consumer venues such as Apple’s App Store or Google Play, as a solution to streamline software delivery and license management. However, these are not yet widely deployed.

Want to learn more? Check out CDW’s white paper, “The Myths of Software Compliance.”