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Software Licensing and BYOD: What you need to know!

In Software & Cloud Economics

The trend towards using personally owned devices to access company resources such as email, applications, servers and databases has firmly established itself in virtually every organisation of note.

The improved user experience on smartphones and tablets, coupled with an increased flexibility in when to use a device for work or personal tasks, has led to the speedy adoption of BYOD over the last few years. As well as this workers have increased productivity by being able to work anywhere, at any time on any device.

However, BYOD has produced several challenges, many of which have focused on the security and data protection aspects of it. But these overlook the importance of software licensing and its ongoing management across a vastly more complicated profile of mobile devices.

As more employees use their own devices in an organisation, correctly managing software licenses becomes increasingly complex. Looking at this as a cost challenge, enterprises want to make sure that workers have access to the right applications needed to carry out their jobs without buying too many licenses.

As far as compliance is concerned, the issues are the same whether the device is employee-owned or issued by the organisation. BYOD can open firms up to significant financial risk if an employee uses non-compliant software that the organisation’s publisher agreements doesn’t support.

For example, if mobile device management (MDM) policies are not correctly deployed and managed throughout the enterprise an organisation may have the correct, valid licences for an employee’s devices but if these haven’t been implemented on the relevant devices the worker can still be accessing applications in a non-compliant way.

If there are any compliance issues with a device, whether the employee owns the device or not, it is the organisation that will suffer the consequences. This could result in unexpected and unplanned financial costs ranging from buying more licenses to paying penalties to the relevant publisher/s.

This means ensuring that the IT function has effective access to the user’s device. In order to do this, there should be a formal BYOD policy that stipulates that if the employee wants to use their device in the organisation, then they must allow IT access to make sure that device is in compliance with licensing agreements.

So how can organisations minimise the compliance risk of BYOD when it comes to software licensing?

Firstly, a clear Effective Licensing Position (ELP) should be defined ensuring the enterprise knows exactly what the terms are of their various publisher agreements, definitions of all relevant license terms and what they have permissions for, as different software publishers have different ways of measuring allowable usage of their software on different devices. Sometimes a license is per user or per device. Checking now can alleviate headaches later. Based on their user profiles they should define where any gaps in compliance may be so that corrective actions can be assessed and agreed upon. All this will help define an appropriate BYOD policy from a comprehensive position of knowledge of the current state.

A comprehensive set of software asset management (SAM) policies and procedures needs to be established / reviewed to ensure that the organisation can manage and control their expanded BYOD landscape.

These should define and control how license consumption will be overseen throughout the enterprise, for example when an employee leaves, how that application’s license should be reassigned to another employee, how to inform workers about ‘clickthrough’ license acceptance policy. This means when an employee clicks on an “OK,” “I Accept” or “I Agree” button they have accepted the terms of the app and are then bound by those terms.

Pro-active control and optimisation of license consumption is essential for any organisation. Having an automated process that ties in with an organisation’s IT service oriented architecture can have the benefit of allowing many tools to work in a more consistent manner in one integrated system

Having a comprehensive license management environment can help in getting rid of avoidable software spending, reducing a company’s overall software budget. It also gives an organisation peace of mind knowing that it is compliant with the terms of its publisher agreements within the more complex mobile first, cloud centric world.

Due to the vast complexity of the publisher licensing agreements many enterprises, particularly those with distributed international organisation and subsidiary structures, seek to engage expert help and work with a competent SAM Partner to define their ELP and to subsequently construct and implement an appropriate set of SAM and MDM policies to ensure they optimise the benefits of BYOD whilst remaining compliant and mitigating risk.

For more information about how Crayon can help you take the pressure away from dealing with the complexities of software licensing, optimise your technology landscape and let you focus on managing the business instead of worrying about your IT call your local Crayon team today.