BYOD: The Danger Of IT Proliferation And License Chaos

BYOD Licensing

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a phenomenon that has gathered real pace over the past year or so. Unlike some other IT buzzwords however, it is increasingly moving up the agenda of CIOs and CTOs across the country, as there are some very real and well-documented benefits.

For example, there has been a great deal of discussion about how employees will tend to look after their own device a lot better than one from work and will already be familiar with its functions and quirks. It can also potentially save organisations from investing in multiple devices and allow employees more flexible working conditions. This can also boost higher job satisfaction levels and improvements in efficiency and productivity.

However, alongside these advantages there are inevitably issues that need to be addressed. Security, violations of data protection, sensitive corporate information at risk from Trojans, drive-by-downloads, and theft are all considerations that the IT department needs to be on top of.

The number of reports in the media and warnings from vendors around these very serious issues should leave no one in IT industry in any doubt about what is needed here. However, there is one area that, on the whole, has been largely placed down the priority list: license management.

The proliferation of private devices connecting to corporate networks as a result of the increasing deployment of BYOD schemes in the workplace is making the challenge of monitoring software licenses even more complicated. What steps should organisations be taking to stay on top of licensing and avoid the risk of unnecessary expenditure through over-provisioning of licences or non-compliance through under-provisioning?

Different licensing models exist for the various applications or programs. Given the multitude of devices that users work with to access centrally hosted applications, companies will have to expect soaring licensing costs. The key for organisations is to correctly estimate the demand. The integration of private devices makes this a very difficult task, the more so as user behaviour tends to vary quickly with the development of new devices and applications.

To complicate matters yet further often companies will have purchased the correct licenses for employee owned devices but for one reason or another not rolled these out to the employees themselves. This means that employees are still using these applications without any license agreements in place. Adding to this confusion is the fact that some applications are free for individuals to use for personal use. As soon as these are used within a work environment, the terms of use change and a license needs to be purchased.

So just how are IT departments meant to deal with this level of complexity? Having a well-engineered license management tool is indispensable if companies implementing BYOD policies want to be on firm ground. Solutions that allow companies to enter the license agreements for purchased software based on the respective licensing model are crucial.

These can compare the installed software based with the license agreements and immediately detect any over or under licensing. Being able to map all common variants of licensing models such as per-device, per-user, per-processor and per-core, is also a sound step.

In all honesty BYOD has thrown an unwanted level of confusion into an already undermanaged and too often ignored issue. However, it appears that there is no stopping employees using their own devices at work and to connect to corporate networks, so companies do need to start addressing this, or face the increasing penalties associated with non-compliance.

Ingemar Mayr

Ingemar Mayr has been Product and Technical Director at Docusnap since 2010. Ingemar completed his degree in Business Informatics at the University of Kufstein in 2007. He is an expert in ITL, application lifecycle management, and agile project management. He also has specialist knowledge of service strategy, design, transition and operation, as well as service improvement and managing across the lifecycle. Married with two young children, Ingemar enjoys mountain biking and cross-country skiing. Before entering the world of business informatics, Ingemar was a successful athlete in winter sports: he won a silver medal in the ski-jump at the 1993 Junior World Championships, and competed in 48 World Cup events between 1993 and 2003.