Blog post

Update – Adobe Auditing and License Compliance Activity – Resumed

By Stephen White | August 03, 2016 | 1 Comment

licensingIT Cost Optimizationcloudasset management

October 2022 – Nothing lasts forever

No, that’s not a reference to the state of play in Downing Street …

Recently my colleagues have seen a series of examples of Adobe license compliance audit activity in Europe. Whilst the BSA continue to audit on occasion over the past 6 years, Adobe themselves appear to be back in the business of enforcing compliance.

Alas, the below blog from 2016 has had it’s day.

Organizations who’ve remained governance conscious, managing usage and entitlement, will be less concerned by the prospect, yet will still grapple with Adobe cost increases at renewal as we referenced in the recent Adobe Vendor Rating.

Original – August 2016

What does an end to Adobe auditing and license compliance activity really mean?

There may be several answers to this question, however between the question and potential answers lies a series of feasible explanations:

A. License revenue growth resulting from SaaS and subscription licensing leads to Adobe halting audit practices
B. Audit and license compliance activities are at odds with today’s vendor and client relationships
C. SAM, good governance and counterfeit awareness cause audit practices to be unnecessary

If you were to choose one of the above explanations which would it be?

What Do We Know about Adobe’s changes?

Adobe confirmed that the company is eliminating its traditional Audit/License Compliance programs. These programs were closed in the North America, Japan and Latin America markets as of November 2015. Closure of the EMEA program is currently underway; the company states it will maintain audit/compliance programming only in select markets throughout APAC.

Until recently, Adobe was also one of the top 5 most active auditing software publishers according to Gartner client surveys. However, the elimination of Adobe’s audit and license compliance program is not terribly surprising, considering the company’s aggressive conversion to SaaS subscriptions, and implementation of monitoring services including the Adobe Genuine Software Integrity Service.

Audit trends

Though Adobe’s cloud strategy does address a significant degree of counterfeit and compliance risks, clients still must confront specific compliance risks. Most notably, Adobe’s General Terms retain the right to verify compliance, with clients required to provide installation and deployment data within 30 days of request, thus inadvertent or deliberate mis-use of Adobe software may still be subject to a verification activity.

Where considering or utilizing Adobe’s SaaS and license key model, IT leaders must recognize that the software includes mechanisms which monitor license allocation and deployment, thus enabling invoicing and true-up practices traditionally driven by client declaration.

Future of SAM Inexorably Shifts from Compliance to Cost Management

Adobe’s SaaS strategy may have reduced compliance management requirements. However, the ongoing nature of subscriptions, and absence of an ‘off switch’ in case or cost reduction initiatives or requirements make usage monitoring and right-sizing the critical focus of SAM. In order to accurately establish options for reducing costs each organization will require mature SAM processes and tools, or third party delivery of SAM services to minimize expenditure and extract maximum value.

IT leaders will likely welcome a reduction in audit activity. However, they should also recognize that risks of utilizing SaaS subscriptions include reduction of negotiation leverage, thus leading to increasing prices at renewal. They should also expect an increase in list prices for a number of Adobe’s applications at renewal (Gartner clients should review Understand the Impacts of Adobe’s Cloud Strategy and Subscriptions Before Negotiating an ETLA).

Consider also that Adobe’s decision could have an impact on the market and represent part of a broader trend and direction, one that potentially leads other software publishers to both accelerate their conversion to SaaS and choose to reduce their audit activity. Earlier in 2016 Microsoft chose to call time on its SAM competency, a move which links to Microsoft’s cloud services strategy and consequently increasing use of SaaS and named user license allocation models, so has some similarities to Adobe’s approach.

One might conclude that the decision by Adobe is a clear signal that clients must shift their SAM program focus to measuring and managing consumption of ‘as a Service’ offerings. Without effective metering of usage, and license allocation how will end user organizations manage out excessive costs?

Returning to my introductory question, what’s your view of why Adobe revised its audit and compliance policy? What does it really mean for users of Adobe software?

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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1 Comment

  • Al Cipollone says:

    Just a thought but I would like to think the enhanced SAM practices and governance played a part in the decision. However their push to SAAS and the controls and reporting they can get from the authenticating would provide them much greater insight into the use of their applications. They would much more easily be able to identify compliance issues with a lot less effort. The recurring revenue from the SAAS offering could potentially exceed any revenue and ill will they get from a formal audit.