License Management

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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In the late 1980s, software copyright policy had to be overhauled in order to accommodate the rise in PC networking. Prior to this time, licenses were associated with each physical copy of the software. Networking enabled users to share applications without having the actual disc in their possession, as programs stored on a server could be accessed by all terminals. As a result, fixed-license policies were eliminated, in favor of network-based licensing. Network licensing usually entails "floating" licenses, where programs are not licensed to specific workstations or users. Instead, organizations now purchase licenses that dictate the amount of simultaneous use allowed.

As penalties for software copyright infringement become increasingly costly, most businesses are highly concerned with keeping their systems legitimate. In order to do this, some organizations, especially larger companies, must often monitor the software access on their network. Businesses need to be constantly aware of the user-to-license ratio for all of their installed applications, to ensure that there is no unlicensed access.

License Management Systems

The systems used by companies to track and maintain their software licenses are collectively referred to under the heading of "license management." License management technology enables system administrators to monitor network access to floating licenses. As a result, these measures can prevent an organization from accidentally violating the terms of their license agreement. Many software vendors require that license management protocols be in place before dealing with an organization.

While the majority of corporations utilize floating access network licensing, other licensing options are available for certain situations. For example, site-based license agreements restrict access to a program based on geographical location. This type of situation enables unlimited access to the program by an unlimited number of employees, as long as the software is only used at the location stipulated in the license agreement. Site-based access requires little license management, as the license managers only concern is to ensure that the program is never accessed or installed off-site. Manufacturers, in particular are not too enthusiastic about this kind of licensing, and the cost can be quite high.

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