How To Protect And Manage Your Software Licenses

Macrovision, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, likes to think it has the solution. The company sells electronic licensing products, FlexNet Publisher and FlexNet Manager, that ISVs can embed into their own software. This solution gives ISVs greater latitude in how they track, administer and distribute their software. Because they are electronic and built into an application, FlexNet products automatically enforce license compliance for ISVs. And customers no longer have to conduct expensive software audits each year to ensure compliance, or hire an IT staff to keep the stable of licenses up to date, according to Daniel Greenberg, vice president of marketing at Macrovision.

For ISVs, it's a value-add to offer clients frustrated with making sense of myriad paper software contracts for all of their apps. VARs and ISVs can also get more creative in how they price the software and in how many SKUs they can offer. By using FlexNet, for example, an ISV can break his application into modules to serve different needs within a customer organization; one department could get the feature-rich version, while another the feature-reduced, for example. FlexNet Publisher separates the business rules from the underlying application source code, so reapportioning apps can be done without rewriting code. It's just different packaging. FlexNet then keeps track of the various versions and disparate pricing tiers, and licenses the software appropriately.

Macrovision also sells a back-office piece of its solution called Operations Module that lets a customer provision more user licenses online, as needed, and to also switch from traditional pricing to a utility-based model.

Julia Grant, CEO at Adraft, a Fairport, N.Y., reseller and implementer of CAD/CAM applications like Autodesk, says she's so sold on the benefits of Macrovision electronic licensing that she will not carry applications that do not support FlexNet.

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"Software piracy has become a much bigger deal and with distributed work forces today, companies look to my team for help with these things," she says.

In particular, Grant says she likes FlexNet's "floating license" capability, which lets groups of users, many of whom only touch an application periodically, "borrow" the license from one another. Her more sophisticated customers take advantage of FlexNet's reporting capabilities to track application usage patterns.

Adobe, Citrix, Cognos and Sybase are among the ISVs using FlexNet Publisher in their applications.

As a whole, the electronic license management market is gaining steam with such players a SafeNet and Aladdin Knowledge Systems, among others.