The Degree of Software Licences Usage in Schools, High-schools and Universities
Table of Contents
Informatics and Education
The papers develop main aspects on the legal software usage in educational area. It will be propose indicators for measuring the degree of licences usage. Case studies are oriented to gymnasia stage.
Informatics and Education
The developments of Computer Science has had its impact on all areas of society, the educational fields notwithstanding. The appearance of new concepts, such as e-learning has raised the necessity of developing processes on informatics applications in schools, high-schools and universities.
Some directions of the process that can be identified are:
· the acquisition of hardware equipment, such as computers and other devices;
· the acquisition of software;
· the development of training programs for teachers, students and pupils;
· the supply of internet access at reduced cost;
For the accomplishment of the above mentioned objectives, important funds have been allocated.
For schools and high-schools, the SEI program has been developed. The program is planned to last from 2001 until 2008 and it is attempting to accomplish the task of having all lessons and laboratories conducted on computers for several disciplines.
As for universities, there is an important number of investment programs with the goal of creating virtual university centres, on-line classes, on-line libraries etc.
Software and Software Licenses
The majority of schools, as well as high-schools are equipped with computer laboratories, which are using licensed software. The Romanian Government has constructed a favourable context for the use of software licenses for the most currently used software.
For example, in 2004 the Ministry of Education and Research has signed a contract for the free usage of:
· 50.000 software licenses for all learning institutions situated in districts;
· 3200 laboratories are equipped with licensed software, out of which 1200 belong to high-schools.
In 2004 the contracting firm has offered, free of charge, 2500 software licenses to the students whom had been granted money in the amount of Euro 200 for the acquisitioning of computers (a program through which the state stimulated the entry of computers in the students’ homes).
The Usage Degree of Software Licenses. A Theoretical Review
In order to analyse the efficiency of software license usage, one has to define a mathematical model with a set of indicators.
A software license has a predetermined (by the means of a contract) duration of usage N, where N stands for the duration expressed in years. The duration of the license can also be expressed in months as:
For the model’s presentation, a number of M districts where licences have been distributed and a series of M numbers quantifying the number of licenses (L1,L2...LM), a series of maximum durations for the licenses (D1,D2...DM) as well as a series of M activation moments (T1,T2...TM), where by activation is understood the actual moment the licenses are put to use.
We will also have a number of licenses for a certain district NL1,NL2...NLM, out of which only a portion have been installed. The number of installed licenses will be NIL1,NIL2...NILM
Taking into account that there are a number of licenses that are never installed, the degree of usage for a particular district will be:
The total number of licences can be calculated as:
The total number of installed licences can be calculated as:
The total usage degree will be:
The duration of actual usage for a particular set of licenses is defined as :
The above formula is based on the fact that all the licenses in a set have the same maximum duration, as well as activation moments.
The degree in which a particular set of installed licenses were used (the simplest measurement to the efficiency of usage) is thus defined as :
Thus, the total loss quotient will be:
Out of this, the degree of loss generated by lack of usage is:
while the degree of loss generated by partial usage is:
Considering that the total cost of all the licenses is C, the monetary loss through lack of usage of the licenses will be :
The above model takes into account losses generated by delays in usage and losses generated by total lack of usage.
The above formulaes will be applied in the next section on a short analysis of the free distribution of licenses by the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research to its subordinated units.
The Usage Degree of Software Licenses. A Practical Application
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology along with The Ministry of Public Finance and the General Secretary of the Government has negotiated a set of general conditions for the contracts regarding usage rights for Microsoft, signed by The General Secretary of the Government for the Government of Romania.The provisioned duration of the above mentioned contract is 5 years.
According to current legal provisions, the State Budget Law will contain, starting 2005, special provisions for the allocation of money for the application of the general conditions contract regarding the usage rights for the existing number of desktops and servers.
The contract offers a new approach, in which software is no longer regarded as a fixed asset, but as a service withan annual subscription. For all the includedsoftware products, the user has the right to use the last version or any prior version, whichever may be more suitable to his needs.
This approach allows for an efficient solution to several issues, such as the legalisation of the installed software (no matter what version and no matter if it already had a valid software license or not)., the issue of providing security to informatics systems through the installation of new versions (which are usually improved in comparison to prior versions) as well as the simplification of the administration of the IT infrastructure through standardisation.
The contract does not cover installation for the software products, its scope being exclusively the usage rights to Microsoft products.
The total number of acquisitioned licenses, as well as their distribution, according to the general conditions contract of 2004:
The units subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Research are: School Inspection Offices, The House of the Didactic Staff, The National Office for Scholarships Abroad, The National Service for Examination and Evaluation etc.
The Desktop Package is comprised of: Microsoft Office Professional, Microsoft Windows Desktop System Upgrade, Core Client Access license.
In November 2004, The Ministry of Education and Research has signed an additional contract covering software licenses for learning institutions (schools, high-schools etc.).
Consequently, learning institutions have received 50,000 licenses including, apart from the above mentioned programs, the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2004. Encarta 2004 is a vast encyclopaedia, with presentations from all areas of knowledge in a multimedia format, with extended usefulness in the developing of new knowledge and the broadening of horizons of pupils and students.
In August 2005, the process of distributing the above mentioned software packages in the covered territory was finished.
A statistic regarding the installation of the software in school units is presented in the table below (the notations are those presented in section 3).
By applying formulas (2), (3) and (4) to the existing data (number of licenses and number of installed licenses per district) the usage degrees for each district as well as the aggregate degree (Ui is given in percentage terms) can also be obtain .
The quantity of licenses for a particular district has been decided by taking into consideration of the number of students that study in that particular area.
In 2006 the number computer systems used by the institutions subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Research has been recalculated and with the discovery that the actual number was greater, the necessity for additional software licenses appeared.
The supplementary number of software licenses is presented in the table below:
In the above case, both the maximum durations, as well as the activation date for all districts are identical with D1=D2=...=DM=60 and T1=T2=...=TM=8.
Thus, applying (6), (7) and (8), the total loss quotient will be L = 1 - (52 * 23814 / 60 * 50000) = 0.58
Applying (9) and (10) we get LU = 0.47 and LP = 0.13
Considering the total cost of acquisition of the licenses was 25,000,000 USD, the monetary loss is ML = 0.58 * 25000000 = 14680600, out of which 0.13*25,000,000 = 3,250,000 is due to the delay in the activation of licenses.
The above analysis, albeit short, raises the problem of finding ways to minimise losses generated by lack of usage as well as those generated by partial usage.
While those generated by lack of usage are usually caused by undelivered licenses or other circumstances, which can not easily be affected by the user, losses generated by partial usage can be minimised through a series of simple means:
· A better organisation of activity in laboratories;
· Immediate installation of software in relation to the moment of receipt;
· Keeping track of all computer users, differentiated on the existence or non existence of installed licenses;
· Preventing the installation and usage of unlicensed software in schools.
On the side of the software buyer (in this case the Ministry of Education and Research) the most effective means of insuring that the software distributed to schools is actually delivered and used is to request periodical statistics of software usage in the beneficiary units.