What is happening to your software out in the field? That is a question that many software developers and vendors are asking themselves – and not just out of pure curiosity.
Detailed insights into user behavior and preferences offer valuable information about the frequency of use or the popularity of individual features. Such analyses can help optimize products, focus on the components that are used most often, and adjust license models to the changing needs and expectations of users in the field.
CodeMeter offers a range of ways to track how licenses are treated and to limit how often and for how long they can be used.
License Tracking helps monitor how licenses are used by customers or users.
The CodeMeter License Server provides licenses through the network, with the number of usable licenses and metrics defined by the vendor. Possible metrics include the number of launched applications or the number of workstations (StationShare).
License Tracking is activated by the user. The CodeMeter License Server records every instance when a license is accessed or when it is denied, with detailed information about the user name, device name, or IP address, and the ID of the license. The data can be accessed via an interface in CodeMeter WebAdmin for simple statistics (see image 1); more complex analytics can be obtained by exporting the license tracking data as a separate logfile (see image 3).
License Tracking for ISVs
In addition to greater transparency about costs, license tracking helps identify unused or missing licenses, giving software vendors new ways to optimize their licensing systems. Combined with overflow licenses (i.e., additional licenses that customers are allowed to use beyond the number they actually paid for), this helps track with precision and confidence which licenses are in use. The data facilitates billing after the agreed usage period.
License Tracking for Users
License tracking allows corporate users to assign and bill their licenses with granular precision to different cost centers within their organizations. With the data for the active licenses, the usage per license and cost center can be tracked with ease.
License Tracking Technique
License tracking uses a parser-friendly format to monitor all successful or failed license allocations through the CodeMeter License Server. It creates a logfile from this data for later automatic analysis; the data itself can be transferred into formats that work well with third-party analytics tools or ERP systems.
License tracking monitors which licenses are available or in use down to the second, and it keeps track of which licenses are still out in the field or already returned to the CodeMeter License Server. Any changes in the form of updates are recorded, creating a virtual history of the license lifecycle.
License Tracking Security
License tracking captures data with cryptographic security to prevent any tampering by the user or other parties. This is done by signing the logfiles with the key stored securely on a CmDongle, in a CmActLicense, or in the CmCloud.
The captured data is transmitted back to the developer at regular intervals, making it available for analytical and statistical purposes. It is possible to validate the real-time data (see image 2).
Use Case: Product Management
Consider a software vendor who offers a selecdetion of products or modular licenses for the individual parts of a bigger software package. That vendor would want to know which product or which feature is used and how often. The License tracking data enables the vendor to precisely analyze this in detail, by users, by use periods, by feature, or even by the time of day. This allows invaluable insights for decisions about where to focus future development efforts.
The tracked data also reveals long-term trends in the use of licenses.
Use Case: Consumption-Based Licenses
Pay-per-use is a common way of billing for e.g., Internet or cellphone service providers, but it also has its uses for software licenses. The use of CmCloud licenses can be monitored directly through the cloud. But even without this direct thru-line, e.g., when the software is used in a cordoned-off, offline production environment, it can be analyzed with confidence afterwards. With the right contract terms in place, software vendors can get license tracking logs back from their users at regular intervals.
The analysis allows precise billing, down to the second. It can also track when licenses are moved around at a client. Even interim license upgrades or changes in the pricing structure are no problem for billing, as the actual activation times are recorded at the user.
There are many situations in which License Usage Monitoring can be used to good effect. Retailers could, for instance, activate additional checkouts to cope with busy shopping periods in the run-up to Christmas. Or highly specialized software like that used in some construction and engineering jobs could be used and paid for by actual usage.
Simple Time Limits
Not all users will accept that the usage of their licenses is tracked in detail, and sometimes technical or operational reasons might make it impossible. In these cases, the software maker could simply limit the usage period for their licenses.
The Product Item Option “Unit Counter” lets license creators program licenses that are limited to a certain number of uses. When the protected software is launched, the counter decreases accordingly. Alternatively, this can be done through the CodeMeter API with an action chosen by the developer.
Software developers can also use the feature to set time limits by letting the unit counter decrease at specific intervals during use. This is an easy way to implement different timebased license models. For instance, the limit could be set to a specific number of minutes or hours, and the counter would decrease by one unit for every minute or hour.
But the unit counter is not only good for enforcing limits. It also helps with consumptionbased billing, e.g., by returning the license to the vendor after an agreed (and paid-for) period of use or by swapping out the license with a new incarnation after the usage period expires. The real in-use time can be calculated by the unit counter and billed accordingly with the chosen pricing model.
If modular license models are used, the usage time can even be limited or tracked for billing purposes for every single licensed function or feature.
You can find more information on our website or in our webinar on Consumption-Based Licenses, which took place in September 2022 and can still be accessed via our website.