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Software License Compliance: A Survey of Corporate IT


The phrase “software license compliance” can often generate images of big software companies coming after their clients with painful audit processes in order to wring more money from them if they find unlicensed software in use. In reality, most IT organizations want to be in compliance and spend considerable effort discovering software assets, tracking license assign­ments, reconciling purchased licenses to installed software, and taking steps to ensure compliance.

The following report is based on a survey of IT professionals conducted in May 2008. The goal of the survey was to gather data about the current state of software license compliance in corporate IT, including existence of unlicensed software, efforts being made to ensure compliance, and perceptions of the impact of software audits on IT teams.

Companies are not confident that deployed software is in compliance. Multiple problems with software license compliance were identified by participants including deployment of unlicensed software, lack of preparation for software audits, and inadequate effort to ensure compliance. The majority of participants report that they do not automatically track software assignments and have limited capabilities to report on software license compliance. Today’s processes for tracking software license compliance are primarily manual. It appears there remains an opportunity to provide tools that automate software license compliance management.

Key Findings

  • 69% of participants are not confident that they are fully in compliance with software license agreements
  • 67% of IT executives and managers do not believe their companies have taken appropriate steps to ensure compliance
  • 60% of IT executives and managers believe they have unlicensed software deployed
  • 73% of IT executives and managers believe they are not prepared for a software audit
  • More than half (55%) of participants from companies with 1000 or more employees believe they have unlicensed software deployed in their environments
  • 32% of total participants believe they are prepared for a software audit
  • 56% of participants track software assignments manually or not at all
  • 16% of participants can automatically report on compliance; 20% are not able to report on compliance at all
  • 8% of participants have a fully automated process for tracking software license compliance

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