Software Distribution License Management Task Force

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Team ID: 
College / Administrative Unit: 
Information Technology Services (ITS)
Date Started: 
January 2012
Taken from Final Recommendation:


Software purchases and ongoing licensing fees represent one of the largest costs for the University (approximately $20M for fiscal year 09/10 and $16M for fiscal year10/11). While Penn State has negotiated several cost effective enterprise license arrangements for select widely-used applications (eg Microsoft, Symantec, Autodesk), much still needs to be done to better coordinate software acquisition and to monitor usage in order to manage this institutional resource more effectively. Anticipated benefits would include: reduced licensing costs, better availability of software to users, reduced risk of software non-compliance and coordinated technical support efforts.

Our task force identified several areas of opportunity within software distribution and licensing. These opportunities are inter-related and inter-dependent as well as some of them being more of the foundation while others are more for a future phase. The foundation will help to reduce costs of licensing across the University by:

1) creating an inventory of current desktop and server licenses,
2) coordinating unit-level purchases through a single advisor in each unit,
3) creating a team to coordinate purchases and maintain communications,
4) coordinating license distribution through methods such as serving licenses via a license management server,
5) creating a central repository of information on licenses owned by the University which will assist with vendor negotiations and consolidating license contracts/purchases.

Additional information on this Task Force is available via the ITLC wiki at:

Please contact the Chair Leads if there are specific questions related to this Task Force.


SCOPE & Deliverables: Coordination and cooperation

Goal is to have a central repository of information, more coordinated efforts for acquiring, supporting and sharing licenses and maintaining an up-to-date inventory, reducing software costs, staff time (costs) and reduce the risk of non-compliance.

1) Inventory of licenses across the University - Agree on tools, procedures and reporting structure for University-wide inventory knowledge. This process is key to all of the deliverables - this is the foundation.

- Licenses owned, licenses installed, licenses in use.

- Currently our vendors know more about what we've purchased from them than we do.

2) Policy for unit-level software acquisition to identify and coordinate purchases

- Person would be recommending software to purchase, software management, consulting with end users on their needs, all purchases for the unit would flow through this single person or office.

- Person would use available tools, procedures and reporting structure to assist with University-wide inventory knowledge.

- For purchasing practices that do not create detailed software data (P-Card and SRFC), the person would use other available tools to capture and report that data.

3) Creation of a position/team to coordinate University-wide purchases and maintain the communications (must be value add).

- Process of deciding if a license is college, department, individual, inter-departmental or enterprise and to coordinate unit cooperation in consolidating license acquisitions where feasible.

- Cost/Financials/Funding - group to help decide funding strategy (who will pay for the license and assume the financial responsibility).

- Vendor Interface - Negotiations group/procedures, exceptions and exclusions.

- This would allow for a more proactive approach.

4) Implementation of license distribution (providing access to software)

- License management server (central or unit-level) - Server Based sharing of licenses, especially those with many owned copies and limited usage (ie Acrobat Pro).

- Downloads (eg

- Sell through Computer Store.

- Access to central computing resources (ie run software on central systems, but not owning the license) .

- Opportunity to work with Desktop Management ITLC Task Force.

5) Communications/Central repository of information available to the Penn State community showing what software licenses have been acquired and by whom. Could be available via database, web page, etc.

- Identify opportunities to merge licenses into more cost efficient licenses or to utilize server based sharing.

- Licensing Compliance - Central resource so each IT Director does not have to figure out the legalities of each license .

- Including list of subject matter experts .

- Could also list those site licenses that we are considering/working on and those that we will not move forward to due to risk (financial or security) or vendor barriers.

Contact Person: 
Krystal McMillen
  • Ken Forstmeier, Sponsor
  • Sue Gavazzi, Co-Chair
  • Janda Hankinson, Co-Chair
  • Joe Breslin, Member
  • Tara Campbell, Member
  • Michelle Dzyak, Member
  • Justin Elliott, Member
  • Fred Fenstermaker, Member
  • Claudio Frumento, Member
  • Jason Heffner, Member
  • Scott Lindsay, Member
  • George Otto, Member
  • Jenn Stewart, Member
  • Kari Williamson, Member