End of an Era! Adobe to Cease Customer Audits?

At a recent IAITAM conference, two SAM colleagues asked what I knew about the rumor of Adobe ending its audit program.  Given the propensity for vendors to conduct audits given their rights and financial gain, I dismissed the rumor.  Earlier this week, I was asked by Jason Keogh of 1E, who heard the same rumor from a large enterprise organization in Europe.  Given that I heard the rumor multiple times, from different people, it was time to get a definitive answer – whatever it may be.

I reached out to Richard Atkinson*, Senior Director, Global Piracy Conversion Team for Adobe Systems.  Richard, whom I’ve always had a deep respect for, answered the question succinctly.  He said, as a part of Adobe’s overall strategy, they are moving away from audit programs.  He added that the programs have already come to an end in North America and Latin America and that EMEA and APAC are in a scheduled transition.

So, what does this mean to organization’s using Adobe software?  Is it time to stand up and jump up and down in excitement?  Do organizations still have to be concerned about proper licensing of Adobe software?

Yes, organizations do need to be concerned about Adobe licensing (though a bit of jumping up and down may be in order).  Let me explain.  Adobe is still contacting organizations whom it suspects may have non-genuine (unauthorized, counterfeit or invalid licenses).  The contact occurs after Adobe runs validation tests on the installed software.  When speaking with Richard, he pointed me to a great website which explains Adobe Genuine, and added, “Piracy has been viewed as a reactive problem.”  Richard added, “We modified our processes to work proactively with our users to ensure they have genuine software as it benefits them in ensuring fewer vulnerabilities including malware and helps ensure that Adobe products deliver as much value as possible to the organization and Adobe.”

I believe Adobe has it right on two fronts.

One, Adobe has moved from treating those organizations as pirates and converting them into paying customers. It is using technology to look for non-genuine software and proactively work with those without genuine software in a professional way.  I believe SAM managers will welcome this approach.

Two, while I am not a financial analyst, the market seems to have embraced this approach given that Adobe’s stock price outpaced the NASDAQ during the past two years when Adobe started this effort.

Bottom line:  Kudos to Adobe for working through such a complex issue – and working to find a solution that seems to be working for them, and more importantly for users of its software.  Other software vendors and associations should take notice.

*Note:  When I was at BSA, I worked with Richard as part of my day to day responsibilities

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Peter Beruk has been in the Software Asset Management (SAM) space for over 25 years. During that time, he has worked for software vendors including McAfee (now Intel), and vendor focused trade associations including BSA. Peter has advocated throughout his career that there must be a better approach to software management as vendor SAM programs are designed only to benefit vendors. During his time at BSA, Peter was instrumental in creating their ISO-aligned SAM programs that were first to bring the concept of audit forbearance to the marketplace if organizations committed to standardized SAM. While with BSA, he also joined the ISO working group responsible for the SAM standard (ISO 19770), where he advocated a simpler,  tiered approach to SAM. At 1E, Peter is a SAM Subject Matter Expert working to assist organizations with ISO SAM implementations and audit defense.  He continues serving as secretary of the ISO SAM working group and editor of the standard on SAM vocabulary and overview. Peter lives outside of Washington, DC and enjoys travel, getting out and walking with his two dogs.