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2010 Summit Archive

2010 Virginia Software Summit Agenda and Session Notes
August 11, 2010, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

9 – 9:30am – Welcome and Continental Breakfast
Mark Willis, Virginia Commonwealth University
Sharon Pitt, George Mason University

9:30 – 10:30am – Panel Discussion:  What drivers are forcing software licensing to change? – NOTES
Tony Townsend, University of Virginia
Henry Schaffer, North Carolina State University
Claudia O’Connor, Marymount University

10:30 – 11:00am – Breakout Session:  What are the drivers of change at your institution? – NOTES

11am – Noon – Presentation: Framing the challenges with current licensing models – NOTES
John Krallman, Virginia Tech

Noon – 1pm – Lunch

1 – 2:30pm – Breakout Session – What are the big challenges that institutions and software providers face? – NOTES

2:30 – 3:30pm – Breakout Session – Define success, establish action items and wrap-up – NOTES

3:30 – Adjourn


What drivers are forcing software licensing to change? & Breakout session:  What are the drivers of change at your institution? –

Tony Townsend, UVA; Henry Schaffer, NC State; Claudia O’ Connor, Marymount

  • University/vendor relationship is very important.
  • Universities are willing to pay a fair price for software and are willing to strive for a win-win situation.  Universities will demand excellent tools and require standards.  Open source becomes an option when software becomes too expensive.
  • There is a need for common language in the vendor /university relationship.
  • License types:
    • Single use
    • Seat
    • Software as a Service(SAS)
    • Concurrent
    • Named user
    • Device
    • Volume
    • Site

Some Problems:

  • Vendors do not work within academic calendars.
  • Automatic renewal agreements are embedded in agreement.
  • Entrenched standards—faculty members are slow to adjust to change—universities need plenty of advance warning from vendors when changes are coming.
  • Some vendors are willing to work on consortiums, other are not.
  • Some vendors are confused with new computing terminologies like cloud and are afraid it will cost them revenue.

What are the greatest frustrations in negotiating software licenses or your relationship with your license partner? –


  • Many vendors bundle software.  Institutions don’t want to pay for what isn’t used.  As an example, an ERP at one institution has an “oil refinery” module.  Higher education doesn’t need such a module.   Institutions don’t want to pay for what they don’t use.  Often, institutions must pay for a suite of tools or bundled software.  Institutions want the capacity to unbundle.
  • Price sheets of vendors are difficult to understand.
  • License costs are different from state to state and institution to institution within a state.  There are a variety of different licenses from product to product and within products.
  • Contracts are difficult to understand.  Understanding the license agreement specifics is difficult.  Understanding rules associated with the different licenses is challenging.  Terms and conditions are difficult to understand.  Terms change (e.g. Sassafras no longer acceptable for Adobe licenses).  Terms and conditions unexpectedly change at renewal.   Legal terms in Apple and Adobe contracts.
  • “Starting from scratch” with a standard agreement every time (even renewals).
  • Fiscal rules within the Commonwealth of Virginia create barriers.  Some institutions cannot participate in VASCUUP.   Institutions participate in licensing differently, depending on their “level” (e.g. 1, 2).
  • ERP licenses are very expensive.  Productivity and student tools are expensive, too.
  • Many licenses are device based.  At this point, licenses should be person based.  Students should be able to use software on their own computers, university computers and other devices without owning a license for each device.
  • Within an institution, users use products at different levels. Different users use software differently.  Some are heavy users, some are light users.  Use may be miniscule compared to the amount paid or the capability of the product.   While many people may use the tool, they may not be using that tool frequently.
  • Vendors receive inconsistent messages across institutions.  Vendors work with lots of contacts coming from the institution.  There are different buyers of software across a campus.  There are challenges getting information from department about software needs.  Users of software are different people in different groups, and contract/other desires are not often “in synch.”  Messages about license needs are inconsistent across the academic and research communities.
  • Many institutions don’t have a central point for licensing.  It is often difficult to determine exactly how many licenses of a particular application are being purchased.
  • Key server doesn’t work where there is the greatest desire for them to work.  Key server doesn’t work for most applications that most users want to use.
  • Negotiating with license partner.
  • Software as a Service means that each license “seat” can be accessed by more people.  Vendors say this increases accessibility and therefore makes the software a higher value.  Users want the benefit of being efficient.  Not as many copies are needed, therefore users should pay less.
  • Exit costs:  Ending a license may require payment of termination fees.
  • Budgets at state institutions are fixed.  Therefore, refunds from the vendor are often unhelpful.  Refunds may come too late in the fiscal year to be used.
  • Lack of contract vehicles to purchase from to purchase with and/or not knowing where purchase vehicles are.
  • For the community college system, there are challenges understanding what is used at each community college.
  • Figuring out user needs and finding the best fit.
  • Funding sources and issues, with centralized funding only covering certain things, IT gets pressure from departments to pick up costs that are associated with ongoing maintenance.
  • A vendor’s internal organization may get in the way of creating an effective license.
  • Software licenses that have usage/purpose restrictions without mechanisms to implement those restrictions (e.g. software can only be used within 50 miles of campus).
  • Technical constraints on versioning.
  • Being able to test the software.
  • Software that is sold with certain functions available, but are “extra” by the time the product is purchased.
  • Co-termed software that is purchased at different times during the year.
  • Some vendors rely on clients to be in compliance.

What are opportunities for new software licensing models?

  • When determining prices for site license, instead of just broadly paying the same price per student, consider a scaled approach like paying “full price” for high end users and a lower price for lesser/light users.  An example might be Adobe products:  A certain number of licenses might serve design students, at a high price.  Other students, who don’t use the software to its fullest, would be served by a much reduced license.   The challenge in this model is determining a strategy for counting  different populations.
  • Software as a Service provided by institutions, private cloud services for the provision of software, SaaS from the vendor.  Challenges become integrating the different applications and multiple vendors so that students have a consistent experience.
  • What about vendor provided a “set” template agreement for the Commonwealth of Virginia to begin statewide conversations?  This could reducing barriers to Virginia institutions to ” act together” to agree on some basic terms.
  • License the common denominator.  Site license commonly used tools.  Track tools that are used less.  SaaS provides better tools for tracking software use.
  • If the cost factor was lower, institutions might not mind paying for unused licenses.
  • It would be great to understand real use.  Software as a Service (SaaS) allows institutions to track numbers of uses and amount of use.
  • Middle ground could be win-win.
  • Want vendor distributed software.
  • Minitab is interested in state-wide license.
  • Concurrent license models that allow vendord to get needed metrics for royalty payments they need to make.
  • Licensing for a campus/collaborative  cloud/virtual computing lab (VCL) would allow new uses, yet retain acceptable revenue flow for vendor”
  • Burst licensing options.

What can’t you do now with software licenses you would like to do?

  • Multi-platform
  • When vendors try to license outside the box, multiple levels of approval are required.

What licenses is your institutional community most interested in working together to produce?


  • SPSS                   13 votes
  • Adobe                 12 votes
  • Microsoft           10 votes
  • Mathematica      6 votes
  • Oracle                   5 votes

Framing the Challenges with Current Licensing Models –
John Krallman, Virginia Tech
Powerpoint Slides

What types of software licenses make the most sense in a changing service-delivery and technology environments? –

  • There are a great deal of options and we do not know what is right.
  • Licensees should be based on users and not on hardware.
  • There should be server versus hardware discussions of what licensing is appropriate.
  • There are examples of why concurrent and site licenses may or may not be useful.
  • Licensing models should not isolate or ignore the casual and infrequent student user.  Electric bill activity is a good analogy.
  • There are free tools.  There are paid tools.
  • Power user licensing models may allow per class or per semester purchasing mechanisms that go through the university bookstore.  A less expensive license could be used for broad distribution to general and infrequent users.
  • Site licenses that include student machines for those things that we actually need a site license for.
  • Student versions of software that are timed to expire.
  • Concurrent licensing can be susceptible to peaks, e.g. in-class use.  Site licenses should include student-owned computer and remote access.

What variables impact your perception of how software licenses should be priced?

  • Is it used a lot?
  • How easy it to track?
  • Does the software have broad impact?
  • Are there different degrees of use?
  • Are the features applicable to student and university needs?
  • What is the faculty perception of the tool?
  • Has the campus adopted/embraced the tool?
  • Education shouldn’t have to pay or pay as much.
  • Don’t charge extra for virtualization.
  • How many can use it, where they can it use, how often I is it used, how easy is it to manage?
  • Variables re: pricing (and value)
  • Breadth of use across campus (how many depts/schools/…)
  • Number of unique users
  • Total amount of use
  • How is peak use handled?
  • classroom vs research
  • Cost should include some ability for vendor to take a write-off for giving a real low price.
  • Reseller pricing is problematic, adds another layer that just adds complexity
  • Depends of the software terms.

What essential information needs to be gathered for software management and auditing?  What data is most relevant?

  • Contracts
  • Inventory…what is installed
  • access points
  • usage metrics
  • Data:  launches, length of use, unique users
  • flex-lm (with an add-on) and vcl can do this

How can we work together more effectively on software licensing, procurement and management?  What are good examples of coordinated software procurement?   What will work best in Virginia?  –

  • Centralize purchasing power.
  • Split license coordination responsibilities, based on package, across institutions.
  • When an institution produces an RFP and subsequent contract, ensure that any Virginia institution can use the contract. (with additional volume discounts).
  • Enhance communication among institutions.  Identify representatives from each campus that can continue the discussion about software licensing.
  • Create more formal lines of communication across institutions in the software licensing arena.
  • Include procurement staff/liaisons from each institution in discussions.
  • Invite vendors to participate in events associated with licensing.
  • Formalize an ongoing dialogue about software licensing (annual summit?).  Continue the dialog.  Leverage ACCS to continue the dialogue.  It is useful for vendors to hear information from institutions.  Continue to include vendors in the dialogue.
  • Include CICV (VA private non-profit colleges) in negotiations and licenses.
  • Is it possible to inventory what we have?  It might be easier for vendors to count what we have.
  • Make progress on high priority tools (see the VOTE, discussion 2) such as Mathematica, SPSS, Adobe and more.  John Krallman will take the lead on Mathematica.  Drew Davis will take the lead on Adobe.  There is a VASCUUP contract for SPSS.
  • Is there a way to consolidate the technology contracts and more specifically software contracts?
  • Change codes so that institutions like Longwood can purchase from VASCUUP.  How might code/policy be changed so that all non-profit HE can purchase from VASCUUP?
  • Are there existing contracts for high interest tools?
  • Agreements that simplify legal processes are beneficial!
  • Need to coordinate statewide, as an active and interested group, to talk with vendors that are “ready.”

Action Items:  Brainstorm one action item to accomplish at your home institution/company to make progress on today’s challenges.

Brainstorm one step that can be taken across institutions to make progress on today’s discussed challenges.

  • Establish one contact person/ liaison from each institution to continue the dialog.
  • Establish a steward to work with each software tool/suite with statewide interest.
  • Ask vendors to show agreements with other consortiums/states that may represent models.