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Watch Out for the Compliance Police

I recently heard a story on the radio about a farmer in England who had secretly built a castle behind a wall of haystacks so the local planning authority would not find out. He had been denied permission to build the castle but he did some research and discovered what he thought was a loophole in the law. Basically, there is no law stating that you cannot build a house on your land but the local planning authority can require you to demolish it if they do not approve it, but there is another law that states they must tell you to demolish it within 4 years of it being built. So the farmer decided to build his castle in secret behind a wall of haystacks and lived in it happily for 4 years without anyone, except close friends and family, knowing. However, a court in England just ruled that the 4 year rule cannot be used in this case and have told the farmer he must demolish his castle. 

The story started me thinking about software compliance which has unfortunately gained a dominant presence in the Business Intelligence space in the last couple of years. While it is known that in some parts of the world, software is often pirated or used illegally that is not usually the case in North America. Most companies use their software according to the license under which they purchased it.  However, as hardware technology has improved with dramatic increases in processing power and memory capacity along with even more dramatic reductions in price, software companies have felt a need to change their licensing rules so they would not lose out on revenue and profits. So with the onset of multi-core CPU processors, there is often a fee with the additional cores. For example, with BusinessObjects software, a dual-core CPU may be charged at 1.5 CPU’s for software licensing (1 CPU for the first core and 50% for additional cores) and a quad-core CPU would be charged at 2.5 CPU’s.  So if you own a 2 CPU license of your BusinessObjects software and then move it to a new server that has 2 CPU’s but those CPU’s happen to be quad-core processors, you would actually find yourself needing to buy 3 more CPU licenses of the software in order to be in compliance. Any configuration that results in a half CPU  (like 3 x Dual Core CPU’s equally 4.5 CPU’s) will be rounded up to the next whole number of CPUs (5 CPU’s). Since it is very hard to purchase single core CPU processors these days, many companies are finding themselves facing unexpected and significant software fees. The software companies themselves have caught on to this and sometimes send out an audit form the customer must fill out to state the hardware that the software is running on or, sometimes, they perform remote audits by phone or web cast.

If your BusinessObjects software is licensed by Named User as opposed to CPU, there is no limitation on the number of CPU’s and servers that you can deploy on with the Enterprise level products (EDGE is restricted to one server). This is an advantage from the standpoint of performance and scalability but it also means that you need to purchase a separate license for each named user who will be using the software. In the BusinessObjects world, access to the different products and functions is controlled through the Central Management Console (CMC).  Sometimes customers accidently turn on functions, like the Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer, without knowing if they are licensed to use this or for how many users.  Other companies will map their Active Directory users to the CMC without realizing that they may not own sufficient licenses for all the users in Active Directory.

So how can you check your Business Intelligence software licensing is in compliance and avoid these accidental non-compliance issues before you are faced with a large, unexpected and unwelcome invoice? 

One way is to use a company like InfoSol who is intimately familiar with the BusinessObjects licensing rules to perform a Software License Audit service to validate what you are actually using versus what you are licensed to use.  There is also a software product that InfoSol uses in its audit service called Integrity that automatically checks the CMC for license compliance. This product may also be purchased through InfoSol. These services can be performed remotely or on-site and are a fraction of the cost that most license non-compliance situations would cost.

Of course, you could try the same approach as the farmer who built his castle behind the haystacks but it may not be a risk worth taking.

If you wish to see a photo and read the story about the Hidden Castle, visit  Telegraph.co.uk

About Paul

Paul Grill, Co-Founder and CEO of Infosol Inc., is an information technology guru with more than 40 years’ experience in the IT industry. Recognized as an industry expert, Paul’s vision is to collaborate and develop long-term global relationships, resulting in the successful implementation of business intelligence solutions. Paul believes a company’s success with Business Intelligence is a combination of data and people’s insights and actions. He believes in the coexistence of technologies. With a strong portfolio of clients ranging from fortune 50 companies, start-ups, and middle market, Paul takes pride in his ability to deliver positive transformations impacting company’s productivity and profitability through the application of business intelligence. He is often heard saying that “data holds amazing nuggets that can be used to create limitless BI solutions that make a difference in people’s lives”. Throughout Paul’s career, he has been a speaker, lecturer, and writer sharing his passion for Information Technology and Business Intelligence. On a personal note, Paul is an avid runner, Tai Chi practitioner, and youth soccer coach. Paul’s curiosity for knowledge expands beyond technology with a passion for Ancient Egyptology and Gorillas.

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2 comments

  1. Many companies are also looking at using VM-Ware to get around this Multi-Core hardware with legacy CPU license issue…but that can also raise all kinds of compliance problems.

    There is a good thread on this –

    [BOB] CPU License and VMWare
    http://www.forumtopics.com/busobj/viewtopic.php?t=140128

  2. Hi Mark
    Yes, interesting thread but the outcome was not divulged. The SAP license usage rights agreement can be found at http://www.sap.com/company/legal/licenses/pdf/Product_Use_Rights_Schedule_2010-3-17.pdf
    In section 3.3, they discuss the CPU license and virtualization rights.
    Paul