People can find out in as little as 15 minutes if they’re paying too much for their auto insurance. There’s even a little green gecko to tell them so.
Determining if you’re paying too much for software, though, might be a more complex task. Failure to understand and manage your licenses can lead to staggering costs, and even risk to your organization.
A recent survey by Flexera Software, a software licensing solutions provider, reveals that a large percentage of companies are out of compliance with their software licenses, meaning they have more software installed than to which they’re entitled. The study also found that 93% of organizations claimed to be spending on software they’re under-utilizing—so-called “shelfware.” This kind of waste is the most common expense, and according to Flexera, “is running rampant in enterprises.”
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“Clients have waste and own more software than they need, and with other software, they’re using more than they’ve paid for,” said Ed Rossi, vice president of product management at Flexera. “The ways that software can be installed and distributed are difficult to track.”
There are a number of reasons why organizations pay for software that ends up not being used, and most of them come down to a lack of software asset and licensing management, Rossi said. Say a person leaves his job. In a development shop, this could mean an IDE instance or a build tool is sitting idle while the company searches for a replacement for the developer. But when one is hired, the company will often provide a newer, updated computer on which to work, and then license more tools while still paying for the other instances.
Or, Rossi pointed out, when companies add server capacity, they could be doubling the use of software without knowing it due to the complexity of much of today’s licensing. “This,” he said, “is exacerbated by virtualization. You can easily lose track of licensing associated with that.”
Flexera’s survey focuses on proprietary, commercial software, and does not look at open-source licensing, which Rossi said “has its own unique challenges.”