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BYOD, CLOUD AND THE FUTURE
Even if a business is well versed in software EULAs and is up to date with its licensing, the rapidly changing world of technology has plenty of curve balls to throw. One of the biggest factors complicating matters for solution providers and their clients is the bring-your-own-device trend, which some say has accelerated the growth of unlicensed software in their customer's IT environments.
"It's definitely something we see on the corporate side," Marathon Consulting's Wilson said. "It's becoming more common now that you have BYOD. A lot of employees will bring their own devices into work and they're downloading a lot of software."
Wilson said the growth of mobile devices and BYOD created an environment where unlicensed software can thrive because of the lack of oversight and management. And if an employee brings his or her notebook to the office as a work device and it contains unlicensed software, it could lead to trouble for the organization, even if the employer doesn’t technically own the device in question. "We let our clients know it can get them into trouble," Wilson said.
The SIIA is also concerned about the introduction of personal mobile devices in the workplace. "It used to be easier for companies to see what software their employees were using," said the SIIA's Kupferschmid. "But now it's different because employees have their own devices at work."
But are companies actually liable for copyright infringement if an employee downloads software from their home onto their personal laptop? It depends on what software is being downloaded, according to the SIIA. "Let's say an employee is doing taxes on an illegal TurboTax version -- the company is probably not going to be held responsible for that," Kupferschmid said. "But if the employee is using Adobe Photoshop and photo editing is part of their job, then there's a problem."
Solution providers say cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service can cure a lot of the headaches for both software vendors and customers. While Business Intelligence 101, for example, made the majority of its revenue from on-premise software integration services five years ago, today 90 percent of the solution provider's business comes from SaaS.
"In the SaaS world, software is much easier to manage," Business Intelligence 101's Lalor said, adding that the company can see exactly how many client employees are logged into Google Apps, for example. And while some cloud apps and SaaS offerings allow multiple simultaneous logins on a single account -- or account sharing -- Lalor said it's a far cry from the kind of abuse he sees with traditional software.
But will businesses embrace the cloud software model? IAITAM's Rembiesa isn't so sure. "Six months ago, I would have said cloud adoption would happen a lot faster," she said. "But after talking with CIOs and executives lately, I think it's going to take longer. You'll see some apps being moved to the cloud but not all because businesses are concerned about not having access to their data."
The BSA, meanwhile, is concerned that login credential sharing will become the new form of software piracy. The organization recently published a survey of nearly 15,000 PC users worldwide that showed 42 percent of respondents share login credentials for paid cloud services inside their place of business.
While solution providers are quick to point out that many SaaS and cloud app providers allow some measure of multiple logins for a single account, the BSA said its software members -- which include Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Symantec and other top vendors -- are concerned about the potential for cloud app and SaaS abuse. "Credential sharing is just one of several new variations of license abuse around the cloud, and it's the one we see most today," said Matt Reid, senior vice president of external affairs at the BSA. "[But] traditional packaged software will not go away. It will continue to grow, especially in emerging regions."
Whatever the case, solution providers will have their work cut out for them -- either keeping their customers on top of their traditional licenses or convincing them to move to the cloud -- as the software industry continues to evolve.
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