Written by Patrick Phillips
I think we all read with interest the recent article published on Business Insider. Many of us would have been nodding our heads at some of the comments made. Many of us may have had a few questions, myself chief amongst them.
First let’s look at the facts this article presents:
- Oracle initiated an audit, as is their contractual right
- The License Management Services team conducted the audit and found a licensing compliance gap
- The gap was influenced by the customers Virtualisation platform, VMWare, and Oracle's Partitioning Policy. The exact details, including if there were other reasons for a compliance issue, were not explained in the article
- The contractual status of Oracle’s Partitioning Policy is questioned
- The customer was placed under intense pressure to agree to make the compliance issue “go away” by purchasing cloud credits – a situation the article terms as “extortion”.
PROACTIVE vs REACTIVE
Let's take a step back and look at some of the underlying issues and challenges that are hinted at, but not fully explained, in this article. There are two main premises that I would like to explore, the first being the concept of the audit and second why transformation and innovation (whether that is via cloud or “the next big thing”) can be a positive outcome of an audit if you choose to take a proactive approach to understanding your license footprint.
The challenge we all face with an audit, and it has become a forgone conclusion that at some stage you will be audited, and the negative connotations it generates is because an audit only looks at the past. Past usage, past technology, past problems. Your organisation has changed, technology has and is changing, but your software vendor wants to look at your past. Did anyone mention future roadmap?
More importantly, audits put you in a reactive state - why me and why now? The software vendor is in charge of driving the timelines and setting the expectations, all which put you on the back foot. We scramble to try and understand the potential risks and implications of the audit and pull people away from ‘value add’ projects to fulfil the audit demands. The whole situation is set up to create panic.
COMPLIANCE IS BUT A MOMENT IN TIME
When you are reacting it is costing you money, regardless of whether you are compliant or not. No customer I have ever met sets out to be non-compliant and when it happens they don’t know why or how they have become non-compliant. The majority of customers that I have worked with over the last 13 years are non-compliant in some way. Why? Most of the underlying causes fall under one of these five areas:
- Lack of control
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of resources
- Lack of time
- Lack of priority
So how can you lift the dark shroud of audit and work towards giving the past a future? Borrowing from Stephen Covey, the first step to a positive approach is to “begin with the end in mind”. Outline what your organisation wants to achieve through transformation or innovation. It’s the end goal that matters.
When you strip away the emotive nature of an audit what do you have left? A process that helps you understand your current footprint through;
- Discovery: Knowing what software you have and where you have it
- Measurement: Knowing how much of that software you have deployed and used
- Reconciliation: Comparing and understanding your contractual entitlement to create a baseline or effective license position
- Optimisation: Right-sizing your licensing to meet your current and future needs
How can I use information generated from the audit to make better decisions in the future?
If you have a clear understanding of your Oracle footprint, you can use this to take the first steps toward transformation.
DATA => INFORMATION => KNOWLEDGE => WISDOM
Here’s a simple example – a support renewal shows I have 1000 users of Product X and I plan to migrate to the cloud. 1000 on-premise users = 1000 cloud users. But what if I complete the measurement of my usage and find that I have 800 on-premise users? That’s a 200 user saving up front. Or what if I find I have 1200 users? Do I simply transfer to 1200 cloud users?
Here is where proactivity and knowing when to negotiate may gain you an opportunity to deal with the compliance issue and transform to cloud.
So how do you take the next step?
Having some form of License Management or SAM capability in-house will enable you to take the next step or you can work with an organisation that provides these services.
Moving to the cloud isn't inherently bad. Being forced to do something without time and consideration probably is. Being reactive will always challenge your capability to manage unplanned circumstances and often the solution requires you to burn money. Being proactive gives the time and the decision inputs to create the best possible outcome for your business.
In the end it is your choice - wait for the dreaded knock at the door or roll out the welcome mat!