Wibu-Systems Blog

Software licensing: it's all about flexibility and security

Posted by Terry Gaul on Dec 14, 2015 11:23:11 AM

Licensing-Blog_Post-USA.jpg

IDC recently released their annual top 10 software licensing and pricing predictions for 2016 and I think they are right on target based upon feedback from organizations who are using our CodeMeter secure licensing platform.  I believe a few of the predictions will have an immediate impact on software developers:

  • Software subscription revenues will continue its rapid growth trajectory
  • Software license complexity will indirectly cost organizations an average of 25% of their software license budgets in 2016
  • At least three software vendors will announce in 2016 the intent to end all perpetual licensing

There are many more details outlined in the report, but the bottom line for me was that the licensing environment is rapidly evolving and software publishers, now more than ever, need to have the flexibility to roll out new licensing models to meet their customer’s needs as well as achieving their own software monetization goals. Let’s take a brief look at some of the license models that are currently in play, ranging from single user/network licenses to modern consumption and user-based models:

  • Single user license: the license is stored on a local PC or dongle plugged into the local PC.
  • Single user license in a virtual machine: the license is bound to a virtual machine and when the virtual machine is copied, the license becomes invalid.
  • Network license: the license is stored on a license server in the network.
  • Feature-on-Demand license: individual licenses are used to activate specific product features and modules.
  • Perpetual license: the license never expires.
  • Demo/Trial license: the user can only access specified features for a limited time.
  • Rental, Leasing, Subscription License: the developer specifies how long the licensee is valid.
  • Pay-per-Use license: billing is based on the number of units used.
  • License with software assurance: a perpetual license with a maintenance agreement that includes automatic updates.
  • License with downgrade-right: the license provides the right to optionally use older versions of the program.
  • License with upgrade-right: the license covers the right to optionally use a newer version of a program.
  • Grace period license: software can used for a limited time without activation.
  • Volume licensing: the customer is sent a large number of licenses to cover the required number of seats.

This is just a short list of licensing options (read an expanded list of licensing options here) which could possibly double in size by next year. Whether you are using your own, home grown licensing solution or you’ve outsourced to licensing professionals, it is imperative that you have the flexibility to adjust your model as the market dictates.

 Finally, let’s go back to the IDC report. One surprising note was that there was no mention of license security. No doubt, secure software licensing is at the forefront of the discussion, particularly in the rapidly growing IoT sector. We’ve covered IoT security in this blog frequently and will continue to post more thoughts in the coming months as the market emerges.

Topics: License Management, CodeMeter, secure licensing, software licensing

Addressing Secure, Flexible Software Licensing in a Complex Environment

Posted by Terry Gaul on Feb 17, 2015 11:05:48 AM

WireFrame_Head_515

ISVs today must address many questions in your product development and delivery strategies as the software licensing landscape has become increasingly complex. Let’s take a look at some of these questions you face:

  • Should the product be sold as one unit or should several variants be created, each with different features?
  • Is the license perpetual or should it be sold in time-limited subscriptions or usage-based units?
  • Should limited trial licenses be made available?
  • Is the license bound to a specific PC or can it float in my customer’s LAN?
  • Which system platforms should be supported?
  • Is the license safe on virtual machines?
  • What about cloud or mobile apps in the future?

Because of these increasing complexities, many ISVs are turning to 3rd party licensing security experts for help in developing a secure licensing strategy that meets their needs not only for today but also provides the flexibility to enable them to adapt their product to meet new customer requirements as they evolve in the future.

For example, take a look at one of our customers, Faceware Technologies, Inc. Faceware is the pioneer in video-based facial animation. Their hardware and software represent complete solutions for the interactive entertainment, film, video game, television, and commercial markets. Their products were used to deliver exceptional facial recognition in Forbes list of top ten grossing games in 2014.

They turned to our CodeMeter secure licensing and protection platform for several reasons. First, they wanted to protect their revenues by eliminating counterfeit copies from hitting the market and protect their intellectual property from reverse engineering. They knew that CodeMeter protected software had never been compromised in global hacker’s contests.

They also were looking to introduce new business models that would enable trial licensing and pay for time and features. This licensing flexibility enabled them to introduce a “lite” version of their product which allowed them sell their software to independent filmmakers and smaller studios that typically couldn’t afford the high end, fully featured version. And with confidence in security, they were able to launch into new markets, including Russian and China, where they previously had concerns.

One of the key takeaways from their success story is that with a robust, flexible and secure licensing and protection platform like CodeMeter, they could focus on what they do best – create award winning products that could reach more markets.

If you would like to read the details about how CodeMeter helped Faceware to achieve their security and licensing goals, please download the case study. And, if you would like to try CodeMeter, just request a fully functional evaluation system.

Success-story-CTA

Topics: License Management, CodeMeter, software copy protection, secure licensing, software licensing, Copy Protection, software monetization

Secure Your Licensing in Virtual Environments

Posted by Terry Gaul on Jan 23, 2015 4:00:00 AM

During the early 2000's, there was much skepticism about the value and viabilitDownload CodeMeter in Virtual Environments White Papery of virtualization. Today, however, there is no doubt that companies have embraced the efficiencies and expansion capabilities afforded by multiplying resources of a single machine across several different virtual machines. The cost effectiveness and increase in availability, performance and utilization of IT resources are all contributing factors to the success of virtualization, whether applied to desktops, data centers or applications.

While end users are reaping the economic benefits of virtualization, it has been challenging for ISVs to create flexible licensing schemes that are better suited for the virtual environment, are easy to manage on the end user side, and are protected against misuse of the license. Just think about the many ways software licenses can be misused when operating simultaneously on virtual machines and terminal servers. Take for example licensing threats within a virtual machine environment:

For dongle users:

  • Illicit use of a single license by using one dongle for several guest systems.

 For software based licenses:

  • Resetting time-limited or pay-per-use licenses by using a copy or snapshot.
  • Duplicating machine-bound licenses by cloning the allocated machine in its entirety.

And, consider these potential licensing threats on terminal servers:

  • Illicit use of a single license in multiple simultaneous sessions on the terminal server.
  • Use of a single-user license as a floating network license.

To help you identify and address these licensing complexities and security threats, we’ve developed a new white paper entitled CodeMeter in Virtual Environments: Make Your Software License Management More Agile.

This white paper illustrates the potential threats in various licensing scenarios and reviews how the CodeMeter secure licensing platform protects against each one of them. With CodeMeter, you can protect your software against any license abuse. No matter if your customers are using real or virtual systems, or a combination of both, you will have an accurate count of your licenses, and the interruption of the execution of the software if an attack is detected. CodeMeter provides the versatile licensing platform and mitigates the evolving security threats in a straightforward fashion.

Download the whitepaper.

Online Virtualization WP Flipping Book            Download Virtualization WP PDF

Topics: License Management, CodeMeter, secure licensing, software licensing, Virtualization

Removing the Complexity from Software Licensing and Activation

Posted by Terry Gaul on Mar 5, 2014 1:05:00 PM

The growing demand by consumers for flexible, scalable, and adaptable license management solutions challenges independent software vendors (ISV) to keep pace.

LicenseCentral customisation Website Colored 01According to International Data Corporation (IDC) Research Vice President, Amy Konary, as she noted in a TechNet Blog post, "customers are also calling for increased flexibility in software licensing — concurrent licensing, pay-per-use models, and licensing approaches that allow customers to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization — while at the same time that they are calling for increased simplicity."

However, the increasingly diverse licensing schemes ISVs require to meet the new software business models, like SaaS and PaaS, threaten to add unwanted complexity. For example, instead of just activating and binding a license to a PC or connecting a dongle, you now have to concern yourself with other details, such as preventing shared passwords by identifying the user logging in to an application in the Cloud, and measuring usage statistics for billing purposes.

Wibu-Systems is focused on providing ISVs with reliable licensing tools that can be integrated into your existing business processes and provide the flexibility needed to adapt to rapidly changing customer requirements. Our License Central system is the cornerstone of our CodeMeter software licensing and copy protection system. Flexibility in license activation is also an important component of a successful software delivery strategy. CodeMeter License Central enables activation of both software-based and dongle-based licenses directly via the internet or offline via file transfer.

We recently hosted a one-hour webinar, entitled A Masterful Customization of your License Activation Process, and invite you to watch a recorded replay of the webinar on our website. While viewing this webinar, you will learn how to use License Central to:

  • Easily implement an online license activation system using an Activation Wizard integrated into your application
  • Opt for an online license activation system using the CodeMeter WebDepot portal
  • Employ a hybrid solution that combines online and offline license activation, while still using WebDepot

Additionally, you will see demonstrations on how to:

  • Customize License Central to meet your business demands
  • Adapt the WebDepot GUI to the look and feel of your brand
  • Incorporate the end-users license lists and available Trial Licenses within WebDepot

Given the importance of your licensing strategy, I encourage you to watch the webinar and see the benefits of using a fully featured, highly scalable, Web-service based license management system.

Topics: License Management, CodeMeter License Central, software licensing, secure licensing, license tracking, network licensing

Advantages of the CodeMeter Runtime

Posted by John Poulson on Jun 19, 2013 5:22:00 AM

I was recently asked why Wibu-Systems requires the installation of a CodeMeter "Runtime" on the end user's computer. There is one big misconception and several undocumented advantages that need to be explained. When one's goal is to provide the most secure software monetization system on the planet, one needs at the very least, to establish an encrypted communication channel between the protected application and the license container (dongle or software license). This is the fundamental reason we included the runtime option as a basic part of our architecture.

Misconception: The Installation of our Runtime is REQUIRED

CodeMeter Control Center Runtime icon in the Windows System Tray

The presence of the CodeMeter icon in the Windows System Tray is one way to determine the presence of the Runtime.

One of the misconceptions about the CodeMeter System is that it needs a "Runtime" in order to operate. This is not the case. The (highly flexible) CodeMeter System allows the ISV to integrate CodeMeter protection and license management features into the protected application in any number of creative ways. For example, ISVs can (in Windows):

  • Install standard runtime as an MSI module
  • Install standard runtime as a merge module
  • Install "silently"
  • Install as a Windows service
  • Simply copy CodeMeter.exe in the same directory as the installed program
  • Use the new CmCompact option
  • Use our custom CodeMeter Runtime Bridge
  • Incorporate our driver as source. We can supply this as a static library or as actual source code.

Each of these methods has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you use the driver source code option, certain CodeMeter license handling features are disabled. With all these options available, why should you go to the trouble of seeing that the standard runtime gets installed in the suggested manner?

Answer: There are many technical and business flow reasons for a runtime. While I can’t list them all, a few appear below. We also feel that any license management company that wants to provide basic security is simply being lazy if they don’t provide a runtime.

Top Ten Reasons for providing a Runtime

Our customers gain several advantages by using the runtime in the manner we suggest. These advantages bring cost savings, higher security and less headaches. The top ten advantages are:

  1. We can quickly adapt to changes in operating systems without requiring that our customers download patches and recompile their software.
  2. The runtime includes the ability to create error log files and other diagnostics.
  3. The integration of networked licenses is simply one click away.
  4. The runtime knows how to handle virtual machine environments.
  5. The runtime knows how to handle terminal servers.
  6. The runtime maintains an encrypted communication channel between the protected application and the license container.
  7. The runtime keeps track of concurrent licenses; those in use and those that are idle.
  8. The runtime can simultaneously handle access from many DLLs in one process.
  9. The runtime can handle many executables from one ISV.
  10. The runtime can handle many different executables from many different ISVs.

As you can see from the above list, the advantages of a runtime environment far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. We will continue to improve the CodeMeter runtime and will continue to suggest that best practices include the installation of the runtime on the end user's system. We also suggest to the end user that he/she update the runtime on a regular basis.

See how easy it is to protect your software with CodeMeter. Watch our three-minute demo!

Watch the 3 minute demo!

 

john poulsonJohn Poulson has worked in the software protection industry since 1988 and has been with Wibu-Systems since 2000. He is an expert in license authentication best practices and deep powder skiing.

Topics: CodeMeter, software activation, software protection, software licensing, secure licensing

Maximizing revenues: What is software monetization without security?

Posted by Terry Gaul on Dec 3, 2012 3:15:00 PM

Maximizing software revenues requires secure software licensing

In my most recent article, "Maximum Revenues with Software Monetization," I talked about maximizing your revenues through Software Monetization. As a quick reminder software monetization means the ability to sell your software as the market demands with a variety of license models. These models can include single user, network user, and/or timed user along with more granular levels such as selling individual modules, features, and even functions. It's all about delivering your software the way your customers and prospects want to buy it.

As an ISV you want this flexibility to deliver your software to market and this requires a flexible license management solution. But an integral part of this equation is protecting your intellectual property and securing your licenses in order to combat the constant onslaught of the hacker community. So it’s great to be able to offer license flexibility but only if you can protect your revenue stream. What's the point of all this flexibility if a hacker can easily spoof your licenses by simply replacing a file? Or even worse if the hacker can access your .Exe and steal your code.

The CodeMeter License Platform puts you on the path to maximizing your software revenues with the concept of Secure Software Licensing. We not only provide all the license models you need for maximized software monetization, but also:

  • Protect your intellectual property with strong 128 Bit AES encryption.
  • Secure your licenses with encryption utilizing 224 Bit ECC (Elliptical Curve Cryptography.
  • Give you the option for public / private key exchange using 2048 bit RSA.
  • Utilize a smart card chip for our full line-up of CmDongles

No security offering is full-proof but we at Wibu-Systems are confident we offer the most secure software licensing solution on the market today. We are the only software security vendor to have held multiple Hackers’ Contests with generous cash rewards (including contests held in the USSR and most recently China) and to date no one has won any of these events.

The consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has recently released a White Paper entitled Maximizing your profits with Software Monetization. The conclusions reached in this document are that for today’s Independent Software Vendors and Embedded Manufacturers to maximize profits they need to have a license management solution that is:

  • Seamless: from development to order management
  • Scalable: flexibility to address needs into the future
  • Secure: protecting your Intellectual Property and licenses 

To learn more about software monetization and secure software licensing download Maximizing your profits with Software Monetization -- the Frost & Sullivan white paper.

FREE White Paper HERE

Topics: CodeMeter, software licensing, software monetization, Frost & Sullivan

Software Licensing is now easier than ever

Posted by John Poulson on Nov 6, 2012 1:00:00 PM

Imagine Easy Software Licensing Customization

 

Those of you who are using or are familiar with CodeMeter License Central (the Flexible Software Licensing Management Solution from Wibu-Systems) know that the GUI was designed as a programmer’s tool. Many of our customers (who understand the importance of brand management) wanted the ability to make this tool one that could easily be managed by non-technical employees.

The challenge has been how to maintain a high level of security (centralized control) and still provide our customers the ability to make CodeMeter License Central an extension of their own site (decentralized control). We are pleased to announce that we have solved this challenge.

By separating out the “depot” function we increase value to  our customers in two ways:

  1. We place the customized “depot” in its own sandbox, in front of the firewall, thereby increasing the overall security of CmLC
  2. Allow for customization through the use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) files of your own design.

The possibilities for further developing the Web-Depot are numerous. Functions such as login, license return and license overview can be easily added to the Web Depot.

Stay tuned to this space for more information about how you can customize your installation of Licesen Central

john poulsonJohn Poulson has worked in the software protection industry since 1988 and has been with Wibu-Systems since 2000. He is an expert in license authentication best practices and deep powder skiing.

Topics: CodeMeter License Central, software licensing