Simplifying Software License Management
2012-06-28 John Poulson
Thomas Friedman argues in his classic work that modern telecommunications makes global trade and competition a simple fact of modern life. And so you need flat earth software license management.
If you're an ISV your customers can be in Silicon Valley or Singapore. Brooklyn or Beijing. Utah or Ukraine. They might be companies you know and have done business with for years. People you know and trust. Or they might be someone you never heard of before. Someone who needs to earn your trust.
The sad fact is that there are bad people out there who will steal your software. The good news is with flat earth software license management, you can easily handle both the trusted and the (not-yet) trusted customers.
For customers you know and trust, CmActLicense is a perfect solution. Using a software-only solution, it binds to the PC it is installed on, preventing piracy but also preventing license portability. (More on that below). With SmartBind™ the number of times users have to reactivate after making small changes to their PC configuration is drastically reduced. All in all it's a great solution for trusted customers.
For those you haven't had a chance to know, you want maximum security. Here's where the genius behind CodeMeter really shines. You can easily decide--at the time of sale--which customers get their license on a CmDongle vs which ones can get CmActLicense. CmDongle provides best-in-classs security while also allowing for license portability. This is critical in some industries where a failover solution is vital. In these cases, the customer should be allowed to install the software on a standby machine; if the primary machine fails the license (on the CmDongle) is just moved to the standby machine.
What if the dongle fails? This is almost unheard of, but anything's possible (for instance, it could get get lost or physically damaged). Here's how you handle that: Provide the customer a second CmDongle with a license using the Usage Period Product Item Option (PIO). If you set the Usage Period for 30 days, the license will be valid for 30 days from the first time it is accessed. That way the customer has business continuity with the backup dongle while you replace the one lost or damaged. And for extra security you can blacklist the one being replaced so it can never be used as a "free" license.
CmActLicense is really just a software emulation of CmDongle, virtually identical in all respects. Any API call you make to CmDongle will work equally well on CmActLicense. All the PIOs are available on both. So virtually no advance planning or effort is needed to take advantage of this great flexibility. The only real difference is in the binding; you have to install a license information file (*.wbb) on the customer's PC for CmActLicense to use.
For those customer around the flat world who you want to use CmDongle, remember that we have offices globally where we can ship from. Say you want to sell your product to that customer in Beijing, but want the license to be protected by CmDongle. Importing that dongle into China can be difficult for you (lots of paperwork). We can ship it from our offices in Shanghai or Beijing to your customer, but all the invoicing and paperwork will happen here in the USA. Saves you some trouble.
Sr. Account Manager
A senior manager and well respected security industry expert, John has worked in business development and sales for Wibu-Systems USA since 2001. When not consulting with customers on software licensing and protection solutions, John attends industry trade shows and conferences to stay abreast of the latest developments in the IT world. Prior to Wibu-Systems, John worked for Micro Security Systems, Eagle Data, and Griffin Technologies, all pioneers in software security.
Over the years, John has authored several blog articles on topics of general interest in cryptography as well as monetization of embedded systems in new and innovative ways.