Q&A: Oracle VP on asset management and vendor consolidation

Keeping track of software licenses is something companies often fail to do, says Woods

The recent flurry of mergers and acquisitions among IT industry vendors -- including PeopleSoft Inc. with J.D. Edwards & Co. and Business Objects SA with Crystal Decisions Inc. -- has a lot of IT managers justifiably concerned about future support for products they have bought. But many IT departments do a poor job of tracking software licenses -- a fundamental requirement in helping to understand the possible effect of a merger between two vendors.
Computerworld's Tom Hoffman caught up with Jacqueline Woods, vice president of global pricing and licensing strategy at Oracle Corp., to discuss several steps that IT managers should take to better prepare their firms for heightened merger and acquisition activity.

What do IT managers need to concern themselves with in terms of their software licenses and IT industry consolidation? The first thing that's really important to understand is what you have -- what software do you have? What licenses do you own? -- and where products are being used and deployed. That's critical, because you have to understand the impact that those external forces might have on your company.

Jacqueline Woods of Oracle
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Jacqueline Woods of Oracle
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Evaluating what software licenses you have and what you're using sounds rudimentary, but people haven't done it, so it isn't that straightforward.
Is this an area that you suspect IT managers are overlooking? Yes, I do. IT managers are concerned about whether the systems are up and running. "Are the services I'm supposed to deliver to my constituents being provided?" Typically, that is their primary concern. Asset management is often a secondary or tertiary concern.
A recent study from Yankee Group found that nine out of 10 companies were out of compliance with their licenses and that the majority were well out of compliance. lt's not that they're trying to pirate software. But they don't have processes in place to examine who is using what on their equipment.
What are the common mistakes that IT managers are making with respect to evaluating the merger and acquisition climate? Not understanding the level of maturity of certain products that they're purchasing from smaller vendors and the level of support in R&D for that particular product on an ongoing basis -- particularly in a soft economy, where it's hard for all companies, but especially for smaller companies, to further develop and refine their products. [Smaller vendor companies are] also more susceptible to being purchased by someone who is a bigger company in that space as well.
How much of this is a skill set issue, where companies don't have enough people trained to handle IT asset management issues? That's a great question. What companies are going to be doing in the future is creating a role where in addition to being, say, a [database administrator], you'll also work on [systems] deployment and understanding what's out there and what [equipment] it's working with.
So you're expecting to see more IT workers step into hybrid roles where asset management is part of their responsibility? Absolutely.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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