Escrow Europe, the only independent South African technology escrow provider to concentrate solely on active software escrow, has been selected by Microsoft as one of the featured escrow companies for the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) programme.
This makes Escrow Europe one of only seven software escrow companies, worldwide, to achieve international Microsoft recognition. Furthermore, the company is the only escrow firm on the African continent selected to provide software escrow services to assist Microsoft Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to achieve their CfMD accreditation.
Given the pervasiveness of technology within today's organisations, businesses are often entirely dependent on software over which they have limited or no control and which could become "orphanware" in less time than it takes to log on to Google.
Orphanware is software that is no longer supported by the company that developed it, and can come into being for a number of reasons ranging from the obvious – for instance, bankruptcy on the part of the supplier -to the more subtle – for example, a competitor acquires the supplier with the sole purpose of killing a competitive product.
One way to mitigate the operational risk associated with dependency on software that the company does not own is for the company to purchase a source code licence.
Unfortunately, this situation is usually actively discouraged (usually via an outrageously high licence fee) by the developers because it gives the purchasing company direct access to the "secret code" in which the application is written.
An alternative with far more appeal is for both parties to enter into an active escrow agreement.
According to Wikipedia, "source code escrow is the deposit of the source code of software with a third party escrow agent. Escrow is typically requested by a party licensing software (the licensee), to ensure maintenance of the software.
"The software source code is released to the licensee if the licensor files for bankruptcy or otherwise fails to maintain and update the software as promised in the software license agreement."
This release of the source code allows the licensee (the customer company) to carry on using the software, irrespective of the supplier's stability or commercial stability.
Gartner takes this one step further, and describes escrow as a "smart and effective component of a business continuity strategy, designed to protect mission critical applications in an ever-changing environment".
Today, software suppliers and developers, worldwide, are recognising that:
* Active escrow is a stamp of quality for demonstrating commitment to their clients in respect of their company and product.
* Their client's need for active escrow is perfectly legitimate, as the arrangement deals with mission critical software that requires additional continuity of use warranties.
Many software houses are already using active escrow for competitive advantage in this respect, as they have found that the escrow arrangement helps them to acquire more business, more quickly. This will most certainly be the case when it comes to the value proposition for CfMD business solutions.
Microsoft has set the bar high by developing the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics accreditation.
It sets apart a group of proven, packaged, repeatable business solutions that have met certain rigorous requirements to help protect the end-users investment now and in the future, and specifically includes software escrow in order to ensure the ongoing use of the technology as a business continuity and operational risk management measure for the end-user of the CfMD business solution.
Microsoft had stipulated that, with effect from 1 November, 2010, all ISVs must escrow their source code to achieve the CfMD certification.
By providing these services, Escrow Europe is able to assist Microsoft's ISVs with meeting the requirement, while protecting their intellectual property as well as the interest of their customers.
For the South African ISV that qualifies for CfMD, the escrow protection service provided by Escrow Europe is further evidence that the business solutions they offer have been tested and approved for Microsoft's highest standards for partnership.
Internationally, the Microsoft stipulation is that ISVs providing CfMD solutions must place their source code into escrow with a trusted neutral third party source code escrow firm.