I like to compare CodeMeter to a steering wheel. Software developers choose suppliers and integrate their copy protection or licensing resources into their software, just like the car makers fit the steering wheel in the car. Thirteen years ago, steering wheels were quite a simple affair. Today, they have turned into intelligent on-board computers. CodeMeter has experienced a quite similar evolution in that period as well.
When CodeMeter was born in November 2003, it was simply a dongle, albeit a dongle with much more space for many more licenses than its predecessor, the trusted old WibuBox. It was a dongle equipped with the latest in cryptographic algorithms. Usually, software developers integrated the CodeMeter API or CmCrypt, a forerunner of AxProtector, in their products, automated the programming of the CmDongles with a batch file, and delivered their software with the required protections. Consultation and support services were rarely needed. Typical services at that time would simply include tougher protections against illicit copying or reverse engineering.
The Expectations Are Changing
Today, 13 years later, the picture has changed dramatically. Software protection continues to be an important concern, but most software developers now care more about licensing and ways to automate their licensing processes. With CodeMeter License Central, they have the perfect Swiss army knife for their needs, making things easier for them, simplifying processes, and integrating them into existing systems.
CmActLicense gives them a purely software-based licensing system. While CmDongles are usually equipped with the right licenses and delivered ready for use by the software developers, software licensing needs the fingerprint of the target computer as a reference point for binding the license. This type of software-based licensing cannot really be imagined anymore without activation servers.
Software protection has also changed in many ways. Java and .NET have developed into mature technologies, and reverse engineering has become so simple with them that much tougher safeguards are needed now – safeguards that also keep the performance-paranoia balance intact. At the same time, it has become more important to be able to protect software running on embedded systems. Thirteen years ago, embedded systems incorporated proprietary designs and by their very nature offered enough protection. Today, most work with standard hardware and standard operating systems.
Our Professional Services Team
In response to these changing requirements, Wibu-Systems has continued to expand its professional services team over the last eight years. This applies both to the integration of protections, the range of operating systems we support, and the extent of integration of CodeMeter into other licensing-related processes.
Our professional services team supports software developers from their first integration concepts to the go-live of the finished solution. We conduct workshops to understand your requirements and develop concepts for your projects. Training is available to empower you to help yourself and get off to a running start with the integration of CodeMeter. If you wish to concentrate your resources on your business’ core competences, our team can take over parts or even the complete integration and implementation effort on your behalf. Even project management, especially for coordinating internal SAP developers and external SAP partners, is part of our professional services portfolio.
Training always provides a great opportunity to become familiar with the core functions of CodeMeter. This training is offered as open-enrollment seminars in Karlsruhe or as dedicated in-house training for our clients on site or in Karlsruhe. We also offer trainings in our offices in Paris, Antwerp, Taunton and Hengelo, as well as open trainings in other locations (for the next dates, see the back page of this KEYnote). The open seminars bring together interested participants from different businesses, which is not only a cost-efficient option, but also a stimulating opportunity for sharing experiences with other professionals in the field.
In-house training can be offered for an unlimited number of participants, on request on your own premises. For three or more participants, these special courses can indeed be less expensive than taking part in open seminars. The in-house courses can also be modeled to your specific needs, with the option of adding a hands-on session with your software or another practical use case. The normal training would take place over three days:
- Day : Core features of CodeMeter
- Day : Integrating software protections in a .NET application
- Day : Integrating license creation into your processes
In-house courses can replace the .NET training with Java or another native application; individual units of the three-day training can also be shortened or removed entirely if the seminar is reduced to a two-day condensed course.
“How effective are my software protections?” If you need to ask yourself this question, a security study can be the perfect answer. For the study, we would approach your software with the mindset of a hacker and analyze its weaknesses for possible improvements. The study can be conducted either as a black box or a white box procedure.
In a black box approach, we would start the simulated attack with the same know-how that any hacker would have: We know the application and we have a license for it. For the white box approach, we would team up with you to learn more details about your copy protections and how they are integrated into your software. The black box process might be more realistic, but a white box analysis is the more effective and direct way of finding possible gaps and chinks in your armor.
Most recent professional services projects have involved at least one web portal in their scope. This was usually WebDepot, the standard portal of CodeMeter License Central for use by your customers. Typically, our professional services team can add the following customizations:
- Integration of your corporate design
- Addition of user management capabilities
- Integration with existing user portals
- Adjustment of the functionality
Our professional services team has access to a wealth of ready-for-use modules to make the customization process lean and cost-efficient. A great part of the functions of WebDepot can be adjusted by changing the built-in configurations. Beyond that, certain functions can be removed, e.g. for limiting WebDepot to offline use, or new functions can be added, such as customer registration data that is transmitted, extracted, and stored alongside the license query itself.
Internal Portals and Tools
CodeMeter License Central is a powerful tool. For routine tasks, it can help to establish a special portal or dedicated tool, reducing the functionality to the specific purpose and allowing your staff to work with the terms and terminology they are accustomed to. The architecture of CodeMeter License Central with the integrated web services makes sure that the internal portal and tools will work correctly after each update of CodeMeter License Central.
A typical use case would be the ability to authorize another license activation when a user has taken a computer out of service without deactivating the license first. Many factors would have to be considered in such a case. CodeMeter License Central knows the history of the license, e.g. how often it has been “lost” before. Your CRM system knows the user and any relevant exceptional conditions. The portal could combine both pieces of information, and the appropriate response would be available at the click of a button. Our professional services team offers several options for the implementation:
- Implementation of a portal
- Implementation of a tool
- Implementation of a library (e.g. DLL) for integration in an existing portal or tool
Whenever the name SAP is mentioned, people automatically think of large-scale, slow-moving projects. But with the support of our professional services team and certified external SAP partner, Informatics, the integration of CodeMeter License Central will take days, not weeks or months, without any effort on your part.
We generally distinguish between two types of SAP integration. The simple approach includes the sending of queries from SAP to CodeMeter License Central and returning of the relevant ticket to SAP. This is usually stored on specific equipment or a specific technical location. In the expanded variant, the data sent back by CodeMeter License Central to SAP can include a simple activation or deactivation as well as more complex registration data from a customized WebDepot.
In addition to SAP, we can integrate CRM systems like Salesforce or e-commerce solutions like asknet, Avangate, Cleverbridge, Digital River, Element 5, or Magento with CodeMeter License Central. Integration with other ERP systems like Navision or Axapta is also part of the support offered by our professional services team.
KEYnote 32 – Edition Fall 2016