As 2020 slowly draws to a close, the Coronavirus still dominates the world’s headlines and continues to affect the lives of people everywhere. Working from home has become the new normal, and many companies have had to ask themselves: How can we give our people access to licensed software in their home offices that would normally only be used on our premises? Do we need to buy additional licenses for every employee?
Working from Home
With their people working remotely, from their home office or a mobile office, virtual private networks (VPNs) are the means of choice for companies to give their employees secure access to internal software and data at home or at a client. Even if the employee in question has no dedicated work laptop, a smart VPN can provide them with a remote desktop that keeps the actual data in the safe environs of the company network and only broadcasts the specific screen contents to the user in the field. However, this requires a sufficiently powerful infrastructure and considerable network bandwidth.
If such a direct and secure connection is not feasible or not planned, there are other options for giving users access to licensed software by providing the necessary licenses through the cloud. Wibu-Systems has pioneered this option with its cloud-based licensing technology (KEYnote 38): The software is installed on the physical device of the user, but the required license is kept and checked on a Wibu-Systems cloud service. The user now only needs to stay connected to the Internet to use the software.
In essence, it doesn’t matter whether the types of licenses offered by Wibu-Systems are kept on a network server, a local system, or in the cloud. They were always designed with flexibility in mind – to the extent that the software developer or vendor is comfortable with. The real distinction between different licensing models lies in whether or when an (additional) license would be assigned to a user.
Sharing network licenses is a great option for licensing software that many corporate users need on a regular basis, but not all at the same time. An excellent case in hand is a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) that is used to manage customer data: Such systems are accessed constantly and regularly revised and updated, but each specific user, be it from sales, customer support, finance, or wherever else in the organization, would only access the CRM for a few minutes at a time.
Wibu-Systems offers the ability to license software and enforce licensing conditions via a shared network server. Users can share the software as they are used to doing e.g. with car sharing, giving lots of seats access without forcing the software to be tied to any one seat or any one user. The number of licenses available for simultaneous use is predefined and strictly enforced. This gives the user perfect control over the costs while still protecting the licensed software effectively for its developer. The three most common models for this purpose are:
User Limit: Whenever a copy of an application is started, one license is activated. The software can be installed on any number of devices; CodeMeter itself makes sure that only the maximum number of licenses can be in use at any one time. This model is a good choice for software that is used once per device or for software running in multiple instances on the same device, with a license active for each active piece of software.
Station Share: For this model, the license on the server is activated once per device: if a user starts several copies of the application in question, they still only need one license. This works on single workstations as well as on terminal servers. Station Share is an ideal choice for software that starts a new copy for each project. For instance, the users of CAD applications can then open additional projects (and applications) to compare information or copy data – and only ever need one license in place. Despite this flexibility on each workstation, the rule still applies that no user can use more than the available number of licenses.
No User Limit: This license is used to offer software without restricting the number of users, which can be a great choice for libraries or DLLs that are accessed by several modules of a larger software package and therefore have to run in multiple instances at the same time.
None of these models is affected by the physical location of the user: whether the software is used on a local device or launched remotely via the network, all the user needs is a connection to the license server.
The license checks also work across platforms, allowing random combinations of client and license servers: Linux servers with macOS or Windows clients, or vice versa.
CodeMeter is packed with cutting-edge technology to protect the intellectual property of software developers by preventing licenses from being unlawfully copied or multiplied.
Every device running protected software is given a Wibu-Systems runtime component to handle the communication with the central license server. This server makes sure that only the actually available number of licenses can be used at any one time.
The licenses themselves are kept either in hardware containers (CmDongles), in soft licenses cryptographically bound to the fingerprint of the target device (CmActLicenses), or in the cloud (CmCloudContainers).