Site licenses change way agencies buy, use software

Grady Tucker remembers the old days when agencies would order one shrink-wrapped copy
of each software application for each PC.


“Resellers would ship the pallets of thousands of software boxes, and the
government would store all the manuals and diskettes in warehouses,’’ said
Tucker, a manufacturer’s representative in Gaithersburg, Md.


Times have changed. Site licensing, CD-ROM and remote distribution, combined with
online manuals, have streamlined software buys and earned agencies big discounts.


For small licensing agreements, the vendor merely ships an agency one copy of the
software on a CD-ROM, plus a licensing agreement and perhaps one manual, said Chris
Randles, vice president of sales and marketing for MathSoft Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.


But large buys are more complicated, he said. Agencies and vendors must agree on
technical requirements and license fees.


Some agencies prefer enterprisewide leases under concurrent use or open-license
agreements. Defense Department officials are more aggressive than their civilian
counterparts in negotiating such agreements, vendors and government officials said.


The Air Force, for example, late last year signed a $5 million, three-year enterprise
lease with JetForm Corp. of Ottawa for forms software to run on the service’s 450,000
PCs. Operations and maintenance funds paid for the lease, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Traczyk,
chief of the Multimedia Branch at the service’s Business Systems Division.


Although several Air Force sites have asked how the service carried out the
arrangement, “I don’t know of anyone else who’s stepped out’’ and
leased on such a large scale, he said.


At the time the service signed the deal, the Air Force was using at least a half-dozen
versions of JetForm software. The lease made it possible to standardize on the most recent
JetForm electronic forms products, which can do database lookup, routing and
spell-checking, Traczyk said.


The Air Force Materiel Command in June signed a four-year, $24 million enterprise site
license for Oracle Corp. relational database management system products and development
tools to save millions on yearly maintenance fees.


The contract requires Oracle to staff a special help desk at Wright-Patterson Air Force
Base, Ohio.


The Defense Information Systems Agency last year signed an open site license for all
DOD agencies with Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., and McAfee Associates Inc., which
recently was acquired by Network Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.


Under the multiyear agreement, all DOD users can download the two companies’
antivirus software for home and office use.


The DISA contract could not have come about without the support of Duane Andrews, then
assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence, said
Mark Bogart, a DISA contracting officer.


“We were lucky to pull it off when we did, because we had grassroots” support
from DOD agencies, he said.


Bogart said he believes the Office of the Secretary of Defense should restructure
budgets so that money can be carved from DOD agencies to aggregate funds for enterprise
licenses.


Success at enterprise licensing requires consolidated funds, top-brass support and
contract management by one organization, he said.


Vendor competition can sometimes pay a bonus in extra services and large discounts for
agencies, officials said.


For example, Corel Corp. recently launched a licensing program that gives high-level
enterprise maintenance support, complimentary home use of the software and telephone
assistance, said Mark Hopkins, Corel’s government program manager.


Just as client-server computing changed the face of software buys in the mid-1990s, Web
applications are bringing changes now, said Frank Colletta, federal sales manager for
Imagination Software Inc. of Silver Spring, Md.  

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