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Although the number of software audits businesses are exposed to is on the increase, the majority of firms only have limited visibility into what software is actually being used across their IT estates, according to 1E research.. With businesses unable to pinpoint the exact applications that are being used on their desktops, laptops and servers, they are prone to over-spend on software licenses in order to avoid the fines levied as a result of failed vendor audits.

The survey of 250 IT decision-makers across the UK found that 30 per cent of IT decision makers still rely on ad-hoc and manual methods to track software usage. This is despite 71 per cent of UK firms reporting they have been audited at least once by a software vendor in the last 12 months, and 46 per cent revealing they have been subjected to multiple audits. The research suggests that there is likely to be thousands, if not millions, of pounds worth of preventable and on-going costs associated with unused software or ‘shelfware’ within organisations.

Less than half of respondents said their organisation used a tool that could identify unused software on PCs and laptops. Only 39 per cent, however, stated that their tool could also pinpoint unused software installed on servers.

Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E, said: “Software licensing represents a major cost, is an administrative burden and a hidden liability for many organisations, with this research clearly showing it is consuming far too much of the IT budget than is necessary.  Software vendors are wise to the fact that organisations are struggling to get a handle on their software licensing. So, today it is no longer a question of if they will be audited, but when, and vendors are actively using the threat of these audits as sales opportunities.”

Software license management is getting harder too. Getting application licensing right is hard enough in the physical world, but in a world of desktop and server virtualisation, organisations are faced with a whole new level of complexity. It’s clear that organisations need to get a grip on what exactly they are using and have the ability to compare it to what they need from both an operational and compliance standpoint in order to remain efficient and competitive.

“In South Africa, although research is lacking, it is clear that vendors are becoming increasingly more aggressive around software audits as traditional revenue streams waver.  Anecdotally evidence suggests that the majority of IT operations do not actively monitor software usage.  If they do it is typically done on a subset of applications”, remarked Tim James of sustainableIT, 1E’s distributor in South Africa.

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