What are Software Audits, and Why Are They On The Rise?

Recent years have seen an uptick in software audits, with more companies being asked to provide evidence of licensing compliance. This is largely due to the fact that organizations are now using more software than ever before, with an increasing number of employees working remotely.

Watchdog groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Federation of Software Theft (FAST) serve the sole purpose of ensuring the protection of software vendors’ intellectual property. These groups and software vendors are dedicated to discovering and auditing non-compliant organizations every single day with little to no notice. According to Gartner, the likelihood of an assessment for a medium to a large firm over the next two years is predicted to be 40%, which is expected to rise by 20% annually.

But why do software vendors act in this manner? 

Simply put, the main motivator is money. Revenue from software sales fell when the American economy saw a downturn and software expenditures were slashed. Software vendors were forced to hunt for alternative income sources when these profits started to decline. Audit fines and penalties of several hundred thousand dollars to even millions of dollars appeared as lucrative options for these vendors. According to the BSA, 25% of businesses that operate in the US are non-compliant in some way, costing software vendors an estimated $6 billion in the loss. 

 

What is a Software Audit?

A software audit is an assessment of a company’s compliance with software licensing agreements. Organizations that use pirated or unlicensed software can be subject to expensive penalties, including fines and damages. In some cases, they may even be required to forfeit their business’ computers and other equipment. 

 

How Do Organizations Fall Out of Compliance?

 The truth is that conformity is not simple. It involves more than just purchasing adequate licenses. Even techies typically struggle to completely comprehend software licensing laws because they are so sophisticated, and even when they do, modifications to the regulations occur so often that it is challenging to stay up to date. 

Most businesses lose their ability to comply with the rules when they lack proper record keeping and miscomprehend software usage rights. Both parameters are equally crucial to stay in compliance. The first approach is to have clear visibility into your integrated software usage. In the unfortunate case of your company being audited, this can be an added benefit because you will be able to provide records immediately and demonstrate your good faith efforts to adhere to the regulations.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to have an attorney or specialist who excels in contract negotiations. They can elaborate to you how you can lawfully utilize your software, saving you from involuntary non-compliance. Avoid attempting to resolve this on your own, as it is easy to misinterpret or fail to notice crucial facets of software use terms and conditions. For instance, there have been instances where a business has expanded internationally and had staff members using software in other countries. They believed this was acceptable since they had many licenses, but since those licenses were only intended for use in the United States, they were in violation without even recognizing it. 

 

How to Lower Your Risk of Being Audited

  1. Exhibit a Sound Understanding to the Software Auditors 

To show that you have a good grasp of your software agreements, it is crucial that you respond to any inquiries the auditors pose in an efficient and thorough manner. In order to achieve this, you’ll need a workforce in control of the project, a SAM solution in place to oversee your software inheritance, and frequent internal audit findings to get a complete picture of your software assets utilization. 

This is especially true if your business has just undergone a merger or acquisition or if it is a large corporation with numerous branches. Such circumstances will make you prone to disorganization, which in turn raises the possibility of overlooking factors important for compliance.

  1. Stay Prepared

Inform your staff on the importance of software asset management, and prepare a defense plan in case a software inspection occurs. Even if a software audit is conducted, a quick assessment with a few fines will show the software provider that you are not an easy catch. Preparing includes having your licenses in order, appointing a specific person to oversee your company’s software audit, and having an audit defense strategy in place. Knowing what to do will ensure that every software audit of your company proceeds without incident and with the least amount of damage possible.

  1. Be aware of your Software Architecture

Establish an efficient asset life cycle, along with a streamlined procedure to purchase and retire software resources to keep a close check on them. Failure to do this can lead to the acquisition of numerous unnecessary licenses, which quietly drain the company’s IT budget. Keep track of what licenses you have and how many licenses you need so that you can stay compliant. Additionally, make sure that only authorized users have access to your organization’s software. Implement user controls and set up alerts so that you can immediately spot any unauthorized access or usage. 

Often, the majority of software audits search in the company’s Active Directory (AD) to assess compliance. A company’s AD contains all devices and accounts—not just those that are currently in use—that have ever used their software resources. There will be ex-employees in your Active Directory, along with devices that have been gathering dust in the company’s store, and the auditors will claim that each of these entities needs a license.

 

Conclusion 

Monitoring your software resources will cost much less than having them audited. In addition to achieving compliance, successfully managing your software and how they are used also ensure that your software resources are used to their full potential. You may delete shelfware and restructure your agreements to ensure that every software program you have is being successfully utilized. Efficient asset administration has no drawbacks because the added administrative costs will eventually result in equal cost reductions. By making sure all of your organization’s software is properly licensed and keeping track of who is using it and when, you can help your company avoid costly penalties associated with non-compliance.

5 Hidden Azure Cost Optimizations: How to Save on Azure

The more resources you spend on your business, the better it gets. With Azure’s increased variety and efficiency boosters like machine learning tools for data analysis or IoT connectivity options, there are no limits to what can be achieved. But be aware, Azure cost management can also be very challenging. 

 

Understanding where your company’s money is coming from might be complex, given that firms frequently own dozens of Azure-related services for which they must make monthly payments. Shifting more assets to the cloud and cloud expenses also comprise a sizable portion of IT expenditures. 

 

So, do you want to know how to reduce IT budgets?

 

There are various Azure cost optimization secrets that can assist you in visualizing and controlling costs. You can use these to cut down on waste and maximize already-existing resources.

 

Here are some insights on practices and tools that can assist you in optimizing your Azure costs. 

1. Efficient Use of VMs

Azure provides a diverse range of virtual machines (VMs) with various hardware and functionality options. To determine which offers maximum throughput or efficiency while being cost-efficient, experiment with different VMs for the same job. You can auto-scale to adopt the number of VMs for actual workloads and continue with the VMs that perform best. 

 

Keep in mind that 100% utilization of all VMs will result in the lowest cost. By utilizing Azure Monitor to analyze your metrics alongside techniques, such as auto-scaling, to update the number of machines based on utilization, aim to reach as close to this target as possible.

 

2. Utilizing B-series VMs

Another way to ensure Azure cost optimization is through B-series VMs. The B-Series virtual machines provided by Azure are intended for programs that are normally inactive but occasionally see spikes in consumption. If the job is manageable, you can earn credits with low levels of computational resources. The CPU power is increased with abrupt spikes in consumption, and you can use the credits to cover the cost of capacity addition. The machine returns to its default CPU power when credits have been used up. 

 

B-Series VMs offer reductions from 15-55% compared to other VMs. Determine which tasks must be available but only seldom require high throughput or performance, and migrate them to B-Series virtual machines.

 

 

3. Shifting Workloads to Containers

Containers weigh less compared to VMs. You can run up to hundreds of containers on a single host machine, with each running a different containerized program. By repackaging your programs as containers, you can significantly lower VM utilization and your expenditures. Consider moving workloads to a container service like Azure Kubernetes Service from conventional Azure VMs (AKS). 

4. Using Storage Tiering

Most continuing costs for Azure setups are often related to memory. With decreasing costs per each storage tier of Azure Blob Storage, several redundancy choices are also available (less redundancy means less storage cost). Consider researching Azure storage pricing to find out how much each storage service costs. 

 

Shifting less critical or infrequently accessed data to a cheaper tier or a lower redundancy option will help you save money. You can further build tiering storage management into your software to ensure that data is routinely migrated to a lower-cost tier when it is no longer required.

5. Utilizing Cost Optimization Tools

The Azure consumption tools, such as SLIM 360 for Azure, are highly beneficial if you are interested in controlling your budget reports and improving Azure cost optimization. SLIM 360 is one of these tools and is solely designed to uncover your potential for cost savings, helping you carefully examine your data to identify superfluous expenses so they can be reinvested into your business.

 

Working with the information generated by the Azure portal can be challenging. The overwhelming volume of data that Azure customers receive frequently leaves them unable to make sense of it. Solutions like SLIM 360 Azure Reporting streamline and simplify the process of analyzing results by compiling them into plain-language graphs and charts, enabling greater use of your Azure Portal invoices.

 

MetrixData 360: Here to Help

 

If you attempt to break down your costs using the receipts in your Azure portal, you will probably be met with a headache from complex data spreadsheets. However, MetrixData 360’s Azure Usage Tool is specially designed to comprehend Azure’s detailed pricing and simplify it into information that is easy to understand and use. Our tool categorizes your current Azure charges for storage, VMs, SQL databases, and more. The total cost for each category is then shown, along with the list price and any discounts used. 

If you’re looking for how to reduce IT budgets, visit our website to book a demo to see how much you can save.

How Will VMware License Changes Affect Your Software Spending?

Changes to VMware’s Pricing

VMware has announced that effective April 2, 2020, new license changes will be applied to their customers’ Central Processing Units (CPU), but what exactly does that mean for you and your company’s software budget? At MetrixData360, we know how quickly the world of licensing can change, so here is everything you need to know about the latest VMware license changes.

Quick Tutorial: CPUs, Cores, and Their Licenses

A CPU is basically the brains behind your computer. It’s a chip that sits on top of the motherboard (which contains all the memory of your hardware), and it fetches, decodes, and executes instructions the same way your brain receives information from your body, processes it, and responds accordingly.

Without your CPU, your laptop is nothing but an expensive paperweight. The cores of a CPU are what process the information a CPU has been given.

Traditionally, a CPU has only one core, but modern CPUs have multiple cores that can each handle their own tasks and if the computer you’re using has multiple CPUs, each with multiple cores, then you will experience greater performance from the computer with quicker results.

VMware’s New Changes to Their Licenses

Before this license change, VMware software was primarily licensed per CPU, which meant that a single CPU could have dozens of cores and would only need a single license. Since CPUs have so many cores on them, VMware has viewed this as a loss for potential revenue and has struggled to find a way to capture it.

VMware has toyed with the idea of charging for this consumption use, with little traction gained from the market but now they have come up with a solution.

While you can still purchase your licenses per CPU, there is now a limit for the number of cores that CPU can have in order for the license to cover it. With these new changes your CPU may only have 32 cores on it before you are required to purchase another license. A single CPU may need two licenses depending on the cores that it houses. Below is the chart taken from VMware’s Update to VMware’s per-CPU Pricing Model page to help clarify the issue.

What Does this Mean for VMware Customers?

Seeing as the average CPU only has 20 cores on it, the majority of businesses will not see many changes to their licenses or their software bills. Ryan Knauss, vice president of licensing and pricing for VMware, promises that the model was designed so that existing customers would experience “zero impact”, since AMD has very few levels available that have more than 32 cores.However, those with dense CPUs with potentially 64 cores will see their license requirements double for every CPU as of April 2, 2020.

With so many businesses moving their software estates to the Cloud, and so many as-a-Service services out there, charging based on consumption or charging based on cores has been the route that many software companies are adopting, and this is simply VMware’s attempts to align their pricing models with that transition.

Knauss also is quoted by CRN to say that he hopes to promote subscriptions and non-perpetual licensing, whether on-premise or in a hybrid solution for the Cloud and on-premise, as a bigger element in their business in the future. Any customers who have deployed VMware software on CPUs that have more than 32 cores, or those who have purchased a server with more than 32 cores per CPU before April 30, 2020, are eligible to apply for free additional per-core licenses.

Of the hundred and thousands of servers that MetrixData360 has seen, less than 5% have any CPUs with more than 32 cores, which leads us to suspect that the impact of these changes will be minor for now. But IT organizations should take this into consideration when configuring their architecture for the future. This may be a response to newer CPUs that are scheduled to be released that simply come with more than 32 cores. It is a move to keep a competitive edge over how CPUs will be configured in the future.

For More Information

License changes happen constantly and depending on your company’s software estate, it may be difficult to impossible to have a clear image of every license for every software vendor. This is why having a strong software asset management (SAM) process is so important.

At MetrixData360, we deal with license changes like this all the time and we know how to help your company develop a SAM process that accounts for such changes, so that you are not left to the risks of non-compliance. If you would like to learn more about how MetrixData360 can help you achieve your software asset management goals today, click the link below to check out our SAM as a Service Page.