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Software Asset Management

Software Asset Management and why it’s important

Here at Affinity IT, we fully support Software Anti-Piracy schemes such as the one run by Microsoft. It is our policy to never knowingly sell, install or recommend illegal or mis-licensed software.

Piracy hurts everybody – especially businesses that rely on dependable IT to survive. Most businesses don’t intent to use illegal software or break the terms of their license agreements but, often as a result of bad planning, inadequate IT policies, or simply a lack of awareness, may end up doing so.

This post will help you understand how piracy can happen and how to identify any software threats you may have. It will also help you learn how software asset management practices can help protect your business.

Join the fight against piracy

A recent report published by the Business Software alliance (BSA) found that reducing the UK piracy rate by just 10 percentage points would stimulate £5.4bn in new economic activity and create over 13,000 new jobs and £15bn in tax revenues.

Everyone can join the fight against piracy by reporting the software pirates. If you have spotted an act of piracy you can report it at  Microsoft antipiracy or Business Software Alliance.

How Piracy Happens – key software piracy scenarios

Software piracy can occur in many ways and, though most often associated with counterfeit software that has been copied or stole, mis-licensing or mis-versioning are equally serious and widespread forms of piracy. Here is a brief description of the different forms of piracy:

Know your licensing – A software product license grants you the legal right to run or access a software program. In other words, you don’t actually own your software – you own the license to run that software.

A license agreement – such as Microsoft Software License Terms – also known as the End User License Agreement (EULA), governs the use of licensed software. License agreements typically allow the software to be run on a limited number of computers and allow copies to be made (though solely for backup purposes).

Mis-Licensing

If you do not have a license for your software, have the wrong license, or not enough licenses, then you could be committing piracy. It’s important that you understand and abide by the ‘user rights’ of the licenses you own.

Examples of mis-licensing include:

  • Installing a single license on multiple machines
  • Installing a single license on a server to which multiple users or devices have access
  • Purchasing PC’s without an OS pre-installed then using a Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL) agreement to install Windows

Mis-Versioning

If you have the right quantity of licenses but for the edition or version of a software product, you could be committing piracy.

Examples of mis-versioning include:

  • Purchasing licenses for a standard edition but then installing a Pro edition of a software product
  • Using a VL agreement to upgrade Windows
  • Using a software application in a way that is prohibited by its license, for example when a Home or Student edition is deployed in a commercial environment

Counterfeiting and Hard Disk Loading

If you have deliberately or unintentionally purchased illegally copied software then you are committing piracy. The quality of today’s counterfeit software varies enormously – from ‘amateurish’ copies to superior examples that are very similar to the genuine article.

Examples of counterfeiting and hard disk loading include:

  • Installing software using product keys you do not own to illegally activate a product
  • Replacing a motherboard on a machine without obtaining a new Windows base license
  • Downloading software from an unauthorised peer-to-peer sharing site or other sites not authorised by the software vendor
  • Installing software using counterfeit media

The risks of counterfeit – know the facts

Counterfeit software can lead to data loss, identity theft and costly downtime. Simply put, counterfeit software is risky – whether you get it from a bloke in the pub, on the internet, or at a low-price retail outlet that seems legitimate.

  • In an IDC study 25 per cent of websites studied that offered counterfeit or pirated software also attempted to install spyware or Trojans that can compromise your systems and require costly solutions to fix.
  • A Yankee Group study revealed, “When problems arise with counterfeit software, IT administrators typically require 20 per cent to 30 per cent more time and labour to identify and resolve the problems at a monetary premium to the business”
  • In studies conducted on counterfeit versions of Microsoft software, one in three disks could not be installed on a computer. More than 40 per cent of the remaining counterfeit disks installed contained additional programs or binaries with known vulnerabilities.

Counterfeit software can be tempting, but weigh up the risks, and you’ll see it’s definitely no bargain. The perceived ‘savings’ of using pirated software can be wiped out in a single security breach or critical incident resulting in downtime and other expensive remedies. Don’t risk it, get the security, features and support you deserve with genuine vendor software.

How to tell

If you want to assess whether a Microsoft product is genuine or not, there are a couple of quick checks you can carry out.

  • Check the holographic coating on the media CD – pick at the edges of the hologram, if you can peel it off like a sticker, you probably have a non-genuine copy.
  • Look at the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) sticker, either on the software box or attached to the PC/laptop. If the hole in the sticker is cut out with clean lines, you may have a non-genuine copy. The hole in the COA should always be threaded, with the paper fibres on show.

When to think about piracy

Although protecting your business from piracy should always be considered a priority, there are times when your organisations are at a higher risk. If your company encounters one of the following scenarios, it is sensible to take extra care and if in doubt seek further advice.

Hiring more staff

As many businesses have experienced, hiring new staff is a crucial time to assess the software licensing requirements. Obvious assets such as company cars, PCs and mobile phones are monitored but it’s important to ensure your software licensing isn’t overlooked as your company grows.

Mergers and acquisitions

If your organisation has been or is about to go through a merger or acquisition it’s a good time to review your software assets. Especially as it’s likely your software licensing requirements will have changed.

Buying online

Buying software online is fairly commonplace these days and software pirates have taken advantage of this. Online, illegal software is harder to spot and often the sites that software pirates set-up look professional. Extra vigilance is required when buying software online and it’s important to carry out the following checks before placing your order:

  • Is the price similar to that of a well known retailer? A price that seems to good to be true, often is. Also be aware that superior quality counterfeit software is often similar in price to the real thing, so extra must be taken.
  • If it’s a new company you are using, what details about their organisation do they provide?
  • Are there any contact details such as a phone number or registered address you can use? A tell-tale sign of a questionable seller is when there isn’t a direct way of contacting them after they have made a sale.
  • Is the company based in your country? Fraudsters often operate across country borders to reduce traceability and avoid taxes. Ensure you know where the company is based before you place an order.

Implementing a new solution and renewals

It’s fairly commonplace for organisations to review IT solutions on a regular basis, renew an existing solution or introduce new ones. All are sensible times to review your current software license entitlement and assess your on-going licensing requirements. Ensure your IT Solution Partner is aware of your needs at this time.

Work with an IT expert

It goes without saying that you should always work with a reputable and trustworthy IT provider. Microsoft Partners like Affinity IT Solutions are IT experts who meet strict quality and experience standards. They are capable of expertly examining your business needs and recommending solutions that deliver measurable benefits no matter what size of business you have.

Software Asset Management (SAM)

Realising the full value of your software investment

It’s all too easy to put off reviewing your software estate but software licenses are assets and investments and should be managed as such. SAM helps you control costs and optimise these investments as your organisation evolves.

It’s easy to implement a basic SAM practice within your organisation, for example you can refer to the Microsoft SAM guide at www.micorsoft.com/uk/sam

Alternatively, if you would like help with a SAM implementation , contact us to discuss your software requirements.

SAM can help you:

  • Save money – Good software management can help you determine what software you and don’t need allowing you to establish how to deploy software more efficiently across your organisation.
  • Plan for future technology investments – Software management can help you identify your organisations software needs and ensure that the technology you have meets the needs of your business.
  • Establish the best licensing solution for your organisation- By understanding your software licensing requirements you can take advantage of volume licensing discounts offered by Microsoft and other software vendors.

Contact us

If you would like help or advice on your current software licensing or a quote for software, please contact us.

We only supply genuine software

Find out more

There are many resources to help you learn more about how piracy happens and what you can do to join the fight against piracy.

Find out more at www.microsoft.com/uk/antipiracy

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