By Software Magazine Staff
Before a software company can expand, it must ensure its assets are safe. However, many independent software vendors (ISVs) look for more when they invest in third-party solutions for license management and intellectual property (IP) protection.
These solutions secure the product and thereby protect the client’s financial health. They further monetize an enterprise’s software by increasing automation and organizing products for an improved user experience, both of which contribute to financial gain.
In the cases profiled in this article, solutions not only change a licensing approach, but shift how the enterprise operated. BizNet Software partnered with Flexera Software for an electronic software delivery solution, Faceware Technologies turned to Wibu-Systems because they wanted intense IP protection, and the SAUTER Group worked with SafeNet to standardize licensing strategy and automate back-office processes while retaining security from piracy and IP theft.
Each example offers insight into how ISVs leverage license management and protection solutions to solve business challenges and improve software monetization.
BizNet Software: Greater Automation
BizNet Software, established in 1996, provides solutions for Microsoft Excel cloud reporting, data analysis, and other business intelligence.
BizNet called on Flexera Software to develop an electronic software delivery solution that would eventually have a licensing component. Over a year ago, BizNet launched the FlexNet Operations Cloud system to create customized portals for customers and resellers.
Prior to FlexNet Operations Cloud, when customers purchased from BizNet, they needed to add on content packs to optimize the base product. BizNet offers content packs for numerous top enterprise resource planning systems. Prior to Flexera, BizNet used portal software, but the approach wasn’t working well. Customers were unable to go back in and acquire new content packs when needed. “We were able to provide it, but it was done in a roundabout way that I wouldn’t call customer friendly or easy,” explains Brian Nicholson, director of customer experience and operations, BizNet Software.
Through Flexera, every BizNet customer has a customized portal in which they can view their order. In addition, BizNet’s resellers can now view what their customers have purchased.
BizNet also changed how it handled licensing files. In the past, the company emailed the perpetual license to new customers, but as Nicholson points out, emails sometimes go astray, or aren’t opened. Now, the license is there for the customer to download. “It’s a more convenient and customer-friendly process,” he observes.
BizNet anticipates more changes this Spring when it moves from perpetual license to a subscription model through the FlexNet Embedded server. A new product launch, BizDesktop, coincides with the licensing shift. Nicholson says the company expects BizDesktop to bring in a higher volume than they are accustomed to, partly because of its low price point.
BizNet’s past approach to order fulfillment and licensing was not going to work anymore—it was too hands-on and not scalable. Changing the approach was the end game when they first brought on Flexera. “It was really driven by the licensing component,” notes Nicholson.
Under the new subscription model, customers download the software and receive an activation code and customized licensing information. BizNet also plans to introduce an online shopping cart, which means customers can access the product immediately. “It was definitely not a real-time process,” Nicholson says of the company’s previous system. Automated ordering was necessary for BizNet to accommodate extra business from BizDesktop without having to invest in additional staffing. It also offers a faster purchasing experience.
BizNet believes that its old model held them back in a fast-moving industry, and the perpetual license approach wouldn’t be sustainable after the launch of BizDesktop. As a privately owned and relatively small company—roughly 50 employees—Nicholson says BizNet needed to maximize its resources. They identified the FlexNet Operations Cloud solution as the best way to move forward. “It allows us to expand differently and grow the way we want to, compared to a more manual model,” notes Nicholson.
Phase one of the Flexera solution—the customized portals and downloadable licensing—was a success with BizNet’s customers. After an initial adjustment to a new system, customers and resellers were pleased that they could access all the software and documents they needed in one secure place. BizNet is not the only company looking for a streamlined process for its clients. More enterprise customers require vendors to simplify software licensing, says Mathieu Baissac, VP of product management for software monetization solutions, Flexera Software. He cites it as one of several current trends.
Baissac believes the demand stems from the increasing consumerization of IT, and with it, the disparity in the ease of use between consumer and enterprise technology. “As a response, vendors increasingly are replacing their cumbersome, home-grown licensing technology with more standardized, automated licensing solutions that can adapt to and anticipate changes in market needs. This allows vendors to do things like make licensing more invisible to users, provide self-service portals to manage entitlements, and offer in-product activation and updates,” observes Baissac.
Faceware Technologies: Security with Customization
Faceware Technologies, Inc. is committed to protecting its video-based facial motion capture software. After all, their tools have been used in films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Godzilla and in installations of top video game series like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.
The company offers three main software products, which convert real-time and non-real time video of a person’s face into motion data that can be applied to any digital character. They also provide two hardware solutions for capturing video to be used with the software.
Faceware Technologies began working with Wibu-Systems USA, Inc. in mid-2013, using Wibu’s CodeMeter protection platform for its IP. “Along with their reputation for providing the strongest protection available, Wibu’s business model was complementary to our own and fit nicely. The company also provides a complete package that we could use right out of the gate—full software protection, license management, and easy reporting,” say Peter Busch, VP of business development, and Jay Grenier, director of technical operations, Faceware Technologies.
The first step of implementation was encrypting Faceware’s software solution in a way that allowed them to divide each product into different tiers. The feature sets offered at each tier depended on what kind of license the user had. “For example, a ‘Pro’ license enables all features, while a ‘Lite’ license has a reduced feature set. Wibu’s CodeMeter solution provided everything we needed to accomplish this,” explain Busch and Grenier.
Wibu enabled Faceware to incorporate trial licenses and a pay-per-feature into their business models. The company now reaches new geographical markets that were previously a concern. Busch and Grenier describe CodeMeter as a robust solution that contributed to their company’s financial success by offering customized licensing without sacrificing security. “It has enabled us to create and easily manage license product tiers while being confident that our IP is protected,” they note.
Wibu-Systems also organizes hacker contests and reports that CodeMeter-protected software has never been compromised.
Intense protection often comes with some complexity for clients, which is a concern many licensing software providers are now addressing. Busch and Grenier say simplification on the user’s side is their next goal in working with Wibu. “While our current solution provides adequate IP protection and allows us to manage licensing easily, there is still too much friction on the user’s side. Working with Wibu to improve upon these features and implement them as best we can is our next step in improving our overall software licensing strategy,” they explain.
Sauter Group: Global Protection
SAUTER Group is a global provider of control and building automation systems for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Their scope includes the ability to achieve “green” buildings by controls such as energy management and room automation. A longtime customer of SafeNet, Inc., SAUTER utilizes SafeNet’s Sentinel EMS and Sentinel RMS solutions for entitlement and license management, combined with a proprietary license generator.
SAUTER utilizes three types of hardware components—PCs under Windows, Linux devices, and embedded devices—when it recently reached out to SafeNet, it wanted to reduce hardware variants without diminishing their product portfolio. The company self-integrated Sentinel EMS into their back office with five days of training from SafeNet. Three months after implementation, it had the two solutions running globally through all of its products. This included RMS for Windows and proprietary license generating for Linux devices and embedded devices.
SAUTER also looked to standardize their licensing strategy while automating back-office processes, creating a central way to handle all orders, including those from subsidiaries and distributors. They selected Sentinel EMS and Sentinel RMS solutions because they wanted to prioritize protection from piracy and IP theft, without engendering costs they’d have to pass on to customers. “We know that we are providing the highest level of security and licensing without affecting our customer’s bottom line,” explains Dominique Kunz, head of applied science, SAUTER.
In addition to unifying licensing for new and existing products, the SafeNet solutions offer benefits such as virtual machine detection, product activation and revocation through EMS Web Services, and multiple network devices. SAUTER is also able to add or remove features remotely, based on the client’s needs.
The cloud-based Sentinel EMS solution provides SAUTER with a single tool to manage all of its products and customer orders. Greater automation, through Sentinel EMS and SafeNet Web Services, frees up internal resources. “Now my team can focus on core competencies instead of worrying about licensing and entitlement management,” notes Kunz.
ISVs select licensing solutions to help protect their software property, but preventing piracy and IP theft isn’t always enough. Third-party solutions work to offer greater automation and end-user benefits to further enable software providers and their customers to monetize from the IP. SW