Software Audits: Are You Ready? - InformationWeek
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Software Audits: Are You Ready?
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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
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1/28/2014 | 11:16:11 AM
Cloud (SaaS) Is Easier
You got it right that cloud -- at least software as a service -- is easier. You're logging into the vendor's data center, so they know very well how many people and servers are accessing the service. No auditing necessary. Subscribers also get insight into exactly what they're using, so it should be obvious if there are subscribed capabilities that they're not using.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
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1/28/2014 | 10:46:08 AM
Re: Audit Questions
I'm also curious about how software companies handle audits of cloud apps licenses, e.g. Office 365. I suspect that would be much easier to police than installed software. 
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
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1/28/2014 | 10:39:27 AM
Audits vary in their invasiveness...
I've seen varying accounts of just how invasive these audits can be. In general, you get a couple of week's notice that there's going to be an audit and you can negotiate on the timing and scope of the inquiry. The vendor usually hires a third-party firm to carry out the review. It may be as tame as a self-audit request for data. That's the experience that Carolina Container had. With D&B, Hoovers and so on, it's pretty easy to know how many employees companies have and whether the numbers might be out of step with reality. There are also "phone home" reporting mechanisms built right into a lot of software, so you're vendor may have insight on what's in use within certain networks without having to do much poking around. If there's suspicion of non-compliance, the investigation might progress to code scanning of networks using the same sort of technologies that software asset management vendors build into their software.

In extreme cases at large enterprises, audits can drag on for months, and complications include having multiple generations of software, using snipets of larger software packages, having software that has been migrated to new generations of hardware, and, of course, complicated terms and conditions.  
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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1/28/2014 | 10:07:02 AM
Re: Audit Questions
I now see that you already explained that the right to audit is part of most contracts. But I'd like to know more about the actual audit process--how intrusive and time-consuming it is. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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1/28/2014 | 10:04:54 AM
Audit Questions
Doug, for the uninitiated (me, for one), under what authority do software vendors have the right to conduct an audit of their customers' software usage? The IRS has government authority. Do the contracts customers sign with their software vendors give the vendors the right to audit at any time? And what (generally) does an audit entail -- an on-site investigation of some sort?
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