Microsoft’s insistence that independent software vendors participating in the highly-sought after Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) programme place their source code in active software escrow has catapulted the discipline from the wings to the stage centre.

Active source code escrow is a King III and Gartner recognised solution to the operational risk management concerns raised by today’s businesses’ absolute dependence on software technology that they do not own.
In November 2010, Microsoft became the first major global corporation to stipulate that partners, such as their independent software vendors (ISVs) that develop, supply and support CfMD solutions, must place their source code into escrow with a trusted, neutral, third party source code escrow firm in order to achieve certification.
It also stated that it would vet and appoint preferred escrow suppliers to ensure that the service provided to its ISVs meet stringent standards. To date, it has endorsed seven escrow service providers worldwide, one of which is a South African company, Escrow Europe, and the only escrow firm on the African continent to be featured.
“Certified for Microsoft Dynamics accreditation 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,” says Microsoft Dynamics’ partner account manager, Glenda Miles.
“It now specifically includes software escrow to ensure these solutions conform to IT governance requirements raised by King III and others, such as Sarbanes-Oxley.
“There is no doubt that there are operational risks when a company’s mission critical business processes and functions absolutely depend on software over which they have limited or no control, nor access to the source code of the product.
“From an operational risk perspective, an active escrow arrangement therefore is the only practical way whereby access to maintainable information systems, by the software end-user, can be guaranteed, irespective of the stability or commercial status of the software supplier or if certain predefined commitments such as warranty, support and maintenance are not honoured.
“By providing these services, those escrow firms endorsed by Microsoft are able to assist ISVs with meeting their certification requirements, protecting their intellectual property and, at the same time, protecting the interests of their clients,” Miles says.
Escrow Europe, which is one of the world’s first software escrow companies to achieve ISO 9001:2008 quality certification, is the only independent South African technology escrow provider to concentrate solely on active software escrow, the only BEE certified provider of active software escrow in South Africa, and consultant on software escrow to the Institute of Directors in South Africa.
MD, Andrew Stekhoven, is delighted with the recognition from Microsoft Dynamics. “To be recognised by Microsoft on a global platform is a very important milestone and privilege for Escrow Europe,” he says.
“It not only highlights the significance of active software escrow as a tool for assuring a company’s business continuity, it underlines our position as a leading service provider on the African continent. We thank Microsoft Dynamics for recognising us in this way and look forward to proving our worth in the months and years ahead.”