For example, third-party software a customer has may include embedded IBM software. During an audit, customers will have to prove they already paid for it.
Other tricky areas include the rules IBM uses for software running on standby, as well as "misidentified hardware," the report states. "A lot of IBM software is licensed according to the hardware it runs on."
Overall, software vendors are justified in doing audits, since they protect intellectual property and collect money to which they're entitled, Forrester Research analyst Duncan Jones said this week via email.
"But sometimes the pressure on an individual salesperson to deliver results can drive them to creative interpretation of gray areas and over-enthusiastic enforcement of small print," Jones added. "My advice to clients is therefore to recognize an individual's motivation and be quick to escalate within the vendor organization if they believe that individual is being unfair or unreasonable. "
Like Miro's report, Jones recommended that customers implement software license tools. "Most compliance groups' main target is companies who are deliberately or recklessly under-licensed, so an audit will be much smoother if you can show you've been diligent," he said. "It will also strengthen your case should you need to escalate an issue created by an over-enthusiastic rep."
An IBM spokeswoman didn't respond to a request for comment on the company's auditing practices.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com