Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

Summary: Had an interesting wide-ranging discussion with a bunch of people at a BT cloud computing seminar the other day, including long-standing contact and analyst Phil Wainewright.But it was something that Chris Lindsay, BT's head of cloud, said that struck me.

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TOPICS: Networking
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Had an interesting wide-ranging discussion with a bunch of people at a BT cloud computing seminar the other day, including long-standing contact and analyst Phil Wainewright.

But it was something that Chris Lindsay, BT's head of cloud, said that struck me. Given today's wall-to-wall marketing and PR around how marvellous cloud computing is, I had to ask why you might not go the cloud route.

Chris pointed out that licence management and virtualisation are big issues for large enterprises. They need to ensure they're compliant for a range of good reasons but they find that often people in the organisation using software that the IT department never knew they had. Conversely, they also find themselves paying for licences that they never use.

Ian Gotts of Nimbus chimed in, saying that such shelfware goes away when you park your apps in the cloud, and the savings involved could be entirely unanticipated. Tim Barker of Salesforce added that research by Forrester found that 10 percent of software is shelfware, and Phil noted that provider means you never have to worry about licences.

It wouldn't be hard to imagine such scenarios as those mentioned by Chris Lindsay -- and at the very least, thinking about cloud means that eventually you'd need to inventory your software assets.

Maybe there's something to it after all...

Topic: Networking

Manek Dubash

About Manek Dubash

Editor, journalist, analyst, presenter and blogger.


As well as blogging and writing news & features here on ZDNet, I work as a cloud analyst with STL Partners, and write for a number of other news and feature sites.


I also provide research and analysis services, video and audio production, white papers, event photography, voiceovers, event moderation, you name it...


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An IT journalist for 25+ years, I worked for Ziff-Davis UK for almost 10 years on PC Magazine, reaching editor-in-chief. Before that, I worked for a number of other business & technology publications and was published in national and international titles.

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5 comments
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  • Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

    Sounds suspiciously like a trap for the unwary to me.

    What happens when you need to run software that simply is not cloud available/compatible?

    And when you make an exception for one, there will be another, and another.

    You could end up with a situation where you had even less control than before. People will think everything is tickety-boo, while there is in fact a sprawling mess of ad-hock unrecorded patches.
    Tezzer-5cae2
  • Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

    Nice post Manek,

    Having just spent a week much closer to contributed computing models than anything even remotely associated with 'shelfware' I almost want to say that surely... Open Source is the solution for software licensing woes :-)

    But I know that's not really where you are coming from with this comment as it's the wider rollout and 'update' strategy that's being brought into question here.

    Tezzer is right, the devil may be in the detail.

    Either way, much food for thought. Cloud is not making the inroads into enterprise that many proponents would like it to - but it's still comparatively early days isn't it?

    adrianB
    Adrian Bridgwater-3dc6b
  • Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

    Yes I agree with both of you. Cloud advocates like to say that it's a complete solution - but that if you don't want to go the whole hog, you can start off small.

    This undoubtedly appeals to the pilot project mentality, well-ingrained into IT process thinking but, as Tezzer, points out, a halfway house is likely to be worse than not going there in the first place.
    Manek Dubash
  • Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

    The very nature of the cloud means it can certainly help with licensing issues to the extent that an organisation could not really avoid being non-compliant. However, companies do need to exercise some caution, not just from a licensing point of view, but from a straight budgeting perspective. The still-unknown capabilities of the cloud model mean that organisations could end up using significantly more computing power to achieve their goals, resulting in significantly more outlay. The cloud is still considered to be very ethereal and organisations remain hesitant to completetly commit their IT into it, meaning it will likely be some time before licensing in the cloud becomes a reality. However, software licensing today certainly does not have to be as painful as is made out. With the right discovery tools, giving a clear view of which assets need to be licensed, combined with the high-level consultancy, organisations can ensure they are wholly and compliant, whether they are in the cloud or not, in a stress-free manner.
    prhim
  • Is cloud computing a solution for software licensing woes?

    Cloud is the CIOs dream - ability to deliver quickly - but also his/her biggest nightmare - apps offsite built by business users outside remit of IT.

    Force.com from Salesforce.com is a great example which I've explored in some detail in a blog http://www.inqbator.org.uk/iangotts/blog/tabid/470/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/54/Forcecom--CIOs-dream-or-nightmare.aspx

    CIOs cannot ignore the Cloud. They need to understand enough to be able to be seen as coach and mentor to the business, not gatekeeper and blocker.

    Time for a "CIO make-over". Now that might make interesting TV
    anonymous