In an earlier editorial I asked what your action would be if you were brought in to support a network only to find that much of the software was being illegally used. That is, it had never been paid for.
While most resellers who contacted me said they had a firm policy of telling a customer what the legal requirements are, some of you said support business is hard enough to get without upsetting the client on the first day of the relationship. I've also asked what you'd do if asked to help spy on a customer's employees, and received mixed answers to that question too.
There's another dilemma faced by many of you who act as outsourced system administrators/support for small- to medium-sized networks. What do you do when you discover the use of non-productive or at least non-official applications? This can range from games and frivolous applications, through private copies of business applications that aren't officially supported, to esoteric applications such as remote control software.
A typical system could have workstation licences for Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes and Windows 95. Some departments or individuals will also use officially sanctioned applications such as accounting or statistical analysis or graphics. Any extra applications place extra loads on the system. These include: more resources for the workstation (more RAM, bigger hard disks, CD and sound card, better graphics and so on); more server capacity; higher system bandwidth; and higher usage of the company's Internet or e-mail resources (and a consequent slowdown for legitimate company business). Some resellers say you'd be amazed how many PC users in government departments order 3D graphics cards to "make my word processing better".
The first dilemma you may face is not wanting to interfere with the way people use their PCs, yet having to explain to the customer why they need certain extra hardware, software or services in order to keep the system working efficiently. In one respect this can be a win for you - use a little "discretion" and you get to install all those extra system resources.
The second dilemma is harder to handle. If you're charging a set fee to maintain a set system, you can't be expected to fix problems caused by unofficial applications.
Sorry, I'll have to leave that problem with you, my copy of ICQ is beeping me. It's not strictly official in this office, but it's such a good application.