Independent software asset management (SAM) firms have poured cold water on a new FAST campaign urging SAM practitioners to report customers for non-compliance, branding it "counter-productive".
FAST claimed yesterday that it was "reconfirming its commitment" to incentivising SAM firms to blow the whistle on illegal business software by urging SAM practitioners at consultancies to report any wrongdoing they see. It is the first time FAST has targeted SAM practitioners directly, having previously urged staff at end users to come forward.
FAST's new Incentive Payment Agreement scheme allows the whistle-blower to pocket a percentage of the net damages if it reaches a successful conclusion.
Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at FAST, said the scheme will stamp out any illegal software use.
"Despite the fact that software piracy figures are slowly declining in the UK, there is still a substantial hard core of business users who are flouting the need for licences to cover actual use," he said. "We are offering a carrot to IT professionals including in the SAM community."
But some SAM experts are less than impressed with the move.
Ian Camino, senior partner at independent SAM firm Cloud Optics, said it was not good news.
"This is something that I do not like nor would support," he said. "It's counter-productive. It would ultimately make clients who most need support less likely to engage [with the] SAM community, particularly if they feel they could be outed and held to ransom. I believe general compliance has improved dramatically over recent years, as has perception of the value of SAM - by association this type of whistle-blowing programme would be taking the perception of SAM backwards. I can't help but think that this activity from FAST seems to be a last throw of the dice in terms of their survival."
Paul Sheehan, managing partner at SAM practice ITAMS agreed and said only independent firms such as his can truly help customers, because they do not answer to anyone else.
"This activity is a blatant form of marketing for their organisation, not for the good of the industry," he said. "Our position is in contrast to this and we don't work with any of the major vendors. We don't have ties to them or supply software, so we are completely independent for this very reason. The messiness here is that FAST mix who their customer is. In threatening action, they are saying their customer is the vendor. That has never sat well with me and doesn't quite work. We are 100 per cent confidential and we get no money or advantage [from customers who fall short on compliance]."
FAST was not available to comment on the concerns raised by SAM firms.
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