The Real Story on Cloud Licensing from Data Summit 2018

Staying on top of software licensing was hard when everything was under one roof, and now, with cloud deployments proliferating, it has gotten much more difficult. That was the message from Michael Corey, co-founder of LicenseFortress, who presented a session at Data Summit 2018 titled “Straight Talk on the Software License Landscape in the Cloud” in which he shared advice on how to stay in compliance with software licensing in an increasingly hybrid world.

As more organizations’ software infrastructures are being stretched between on premise data centers, and public and hybrid clouds, maintaining compliance is a more significant challenge than ever before.  

In fact, said Corey, some vendors have turned to software license audits as a way to generate additional revenue.

This presentation discussed current software licensing trends in this cloud-fueled world, lessons learned, and steps every organization should take to stay in compliance.

Key takeaways from Corey’s presentation on licensing pitfalls and best practices include these:

  • Software vendors will continue to introduce new licensing metrics to end users because the game is to generate as much revenue as possible and to ensure the lack of software piracy
  • Increasing complexity around cloud offerings and determining exactly what is required versus premium features means overcharging is running rampant.
  • To be effective today license experts need to understand complex architectures.
  • Know the difference between policy statement and contract get the details of your agreement in the contract or get it on the work order at a minimum.
  • Architecture impacts costs & performance
    • Architecture changes can results in huge license savings
    • Optimal license architecture does not mean having to sacrifice performance
    • Software vendors’ recommendations need to be taken with a grain of salt
  • The importance of being able to monitor in real time when cloud-based applications and services are being consumed will become paramount in controlling costs.
  • If a user downloads software and activates it, your organization is responsible for licensing and paying the bill.
  • Installing software upgrades can turn on features you did not pay for (expect this trend to continue)
  • An annual audit is no longer enough need to proactively check for software compliance. Unlicensed software could be a ticking bomb until you discover it.
  • Training your staff on software compliancy is now a requirement, especially database administrators and system administrators.
  • Look for a license solution (software asset management) that includes a training component
  • If you own the software you are responsible for the MSP’s mistakes.
  • In a software audit, the burden of proof is on the customer, who is guilty until proven innocent.
  • If the terms of the contract point to a URL, the page that contains the URL can change over time so make sure you have a copy of what is on the page that the contract links to with proof of the date. If you are not sure what will be acceptable, seek legal advice on how to capture the information.
  • In the current licensing environment, you need an trusted, experienced advisor, who also has knowledge of other companies' contracts, to ensure that you are getting the best deal and that you have not veered out of compliance unwittingly.

Many Data Summit 2018 presentations, including Corey’s, have been made available for review at

Data Summit 2019, presented by DBTA and Big Data Quarterly, is tentatively scheduled for May 21-22, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency Boston with pre-conference workshops on May 20.