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Blog: Cerno

published October 2, 2017

If you receive an unexpected licence fee demand, help is at hand – Cerno is a specialist, totally independent, legal and technical support company.

On Friday 15 September London Ventures supported a conversation between Cerno and members of the London Society of IT Managers (SocITM). To date, licence fee demands hadn’t featured as a key topic, but it was clear from the conversation it could only be a matter of time.

Before the meeting of SocITM, London Ventures introduced Cerno to talk about software license audits. Robin Fry and Nick Preston of Cerno explaine dthe typical processes of Oracle, SAP, IBM and Microsoft and new areas of risk for councils e.g. robotic usage and virtualisation. Having a lengthy trusted relationship, it apepars, counts for little when teh audit rights are exercised by vendors. The key is to expect an audit and to prepare for it: even quite incidental under-licensing can compound into major demands at list price with penal additions in terms of historic and future support and maintenance.

A freedom of information request back in 2015 found 39% of local authorities had been reviewed in the previous 2 years, with 59% ‘under-licensed’ – 60% of these concluded with a penalty of up to £50,000, and almost a quarter much higher than this.

Cerno’s experience is that with the advent of new players in the market and cloud computing acting as IT infrastructure and application host – some of the established brands are looking to maximise the value of their current contracts – reviewing an organisations compliance with their contract, potentially issuing licence demands if they find non-compliance.

Therefore, Cerno are available to support local authorities when they do receive a demand to negotiate as hard as possible to reduce the demand amount – they provide an excellent opportunity to ensure public money is not spent on paying unfair demands from the big IT suppliers.  


Cerno’s approach combines:

  • A forensic technical analysis
  • A detailed contractual assessment, and
  • Up to date and informed commercial knowledge of the deals that software vendors have agreed with others

We ended the discussion by musing about what changes will come as local authorities share more services and potentially engage a robotic workforce: make sure your partner authorities are named on the contract so their profiles are covered under your licence – and make sure you’ve got enough spare licences for your ‘automated staff’.


Keep an eye out for the next London Ventures hosted session as we continue to provide a forum for local authorities to come together around the biggest issues being faced in the sector.


Check out our ‘news and events’ pages for more details on our other London Ventures hosted events!