Driving licenses: why software licensing need to be more flexible as IT becomes more complex

New technologies such as in-memory computing and virtualisation together with new ways of accessing and exploiting that technology (e.g. cloud or mobile computing) are changing the way that IT is bought and used.   A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is no longer suitable in today’s increasingly mobile and on-demand world, as today’s organisations are wanting greater flexibility from their licensing terms.

Currently the battle that many organisations face when it comes to licensing is that original license terms were agreed at a time when workforces were larger and the vast majority of deployments were on premise.  But in today’s business climate many organisations are now looking to re-negotiate their licensing terms.  As organisations’ IT needs change, licensing can vary in terms of length, cost per user and associated support costs.  In addition, there is the need to ensure that every element of the IT the business uses is covered by a license.

For their part users need to keep a tight rein on licenses.  However, many are doing so with one hand tied behind their back due to a lack of vendor flexibility when it comes to licensing and associated maintenance fees.

Indeed, the greatest responsibility for reducing the complexity and increasing the accessibility of licenses lies with the vendors themselves. There are many actions that they could take. For example, licenses should be made transferrable or easily replaceable when users up- or side-grade across their products. Licensing should also be consistent across the product range regardless of how it is delivered: whether software is accessed on-premise or as a service, users getting the same capability should be on comparable licenses. Yet vendors should make sure that their license costs and conditions are transparent and flexible so that customers can make more informed decisions.

Vendors should not see this as a call to reduce costs or otherwise hamper their business: ideally, by making licensing as flexible, consistent and open as possible they can reap the benefits of a customer base that understands exactly what they are paying for. Neither IT users nor vendors exist in a vacuum: each needs the other to survive. By simplifying and opening up licensing on one hand, and keeping a tight rein on it on the other, both can ensure that they are getting the maximum benefit from their relationship.

In the next few weeks, we will be releasing the results of our member survey which looks at their views on licensing – so watch this space!