Leveraging Software Licensing to Accommodate Business Growth without Constraints
19/05/2020 Tomoki Maruyama
The enterprise software licensing transformation continues in parallel with the evolving expectations of end users and the fluid nature of the technology landscape. ISVs have taken to addressing user preferences with a myriad of new licensing models for enterprise software: single user license, network license, feature-on-demand license, perpetual license, pay-per-use license, trial license, and a host of others – along with various license container options – hardware-based or more flexible software or cloud-based licenses. Then, consider the network environments – virtualized or distributed environments or cloud infrastructures – and it’s easy to see the potential chaos. The ultimate objective is to balance customer needs with vendor monetization goals.
In the smart manufacturing sector, legacy industrial machinery is either being upgraded with Internet connectivity or replaced completely with the new generation of connected industrial devices and systems equipped with data and real-time analytics capabilities that propel Industry 4.0 models. The licensing story for industry can be just as chaotic as the enterprise, particularly in heterogeneous industrial environments, where software is often run in environments where there are multiple types of operating systems, deployment platforms, and network architectures.
In either case, licensing is a challenge. Developers can integrate 3rd party technologies to handle the various usage scenarios and hope they are interoperable and can be integrated into existing processes efficiently. Or, perhaps worse, try the DIY approach, and attempt to re-purpose their developers from writing application code to developing a licensing system internally, a task for which they are most likely unprepared for. Ideally, ISVs and developers of intelligent manufacturing devices would benefit from a flexible, yet powerful license management system that can support all of the potential variables that may exist to satisfy their customers’ specific market requirements, stay competitive within their market, and fully monetize their software.
As a case in point, let’s take a quick look at Takebishi, the Kyoto-based solutions provider and distributor for Mitsubishi Electric Corporation’s factory automation technology. With its flagship industrial communication middleware DeviceXPlorer® OPC Server designed for smart factories, Takebishi is experiencing explosive growth in its native Japan and around the world. DeviceXPlorer OPC Server, the company’s own communication middleware, occupies a crucial space for the smart industry of the future, ensuring connectivity with the industrial controllers on the factory floor. More than 200 PLC brands are supported, and the solution is highly compatible with SCADA and ERP/MES systems. This growth, however, brought with it complex licensing challenges.
For previous iterations of its DeviceXPlorer system, Takebishi had initially relied on simple licensing by serial number, later followed by a proprietary licensing algorithm and external, hardware-based protection technology. Over time, the lack of interoperability of these separate solutions and the arduousness to keep them up to date with the latest technology trends meant significant efforts and constant remodeling for their licensing system. Takebishi encountered more and more difficulties with accommodating important new technologies in the industry, such as virtual environments and support for Docker in the run-up to the coming release of their all-new Device Gateway for Docker. This motivated Takebishi to look for a strong new partner for streamlining its licensing management system.
Takebishi chose Wibu-Systems’ CodeMeter protection and licensing platform as their universal solution. They replaced a mix of proprietary and third-party licensing systems with CodeMeter, implementing both hardware and software licensing managed under the same technological umbrella for the latest version of their DeviceXPlorer OPC Server. With CodeMeter fully embedded in the newest version of DeviceXPlorer OPC Server, Takebishi now protects its communication middleware against unauthorized use and piracy, and achieves the licensing flexibility needed to cover every scenario among its diverse industrial user base – online or offline, virtual or cloud environments, hardware containers for top security or software containers for the added comfort of online license transfer and activation.
With DeviceXPlorer OPC Server version 6 now fully ready for the opportunities and challenges of the IIoT age and the upcoming Device Gateway for Docker reliably licensed through the power of CodeMeter, Takebishi sees great potential for Wibu-Systems’ solutions in the company’s remaining product lineup. Together, the two companies from either side of the globe are paving the way for a smarter industrial future.
Tomoki has a total of 30 years of embedded software and system business experience for various industries, including industrial automation and robotics, automotive, electronics, and medical technology in Japan. Before joining Wibu-Systems, Tomoki held a sales management position at MathWorks Japan for nine years and a country management role at a security solution provider for embedded systems and software.