Making the Case for Hybrid Cloud/On premise Licensing System
2023-10-26 Rüdiger Kügler
I recently came across a blog post written in 2014 that today seems quite prophetic. Entitled “Back to the Future: Is Electronic Software Delivery Making a Big Return?,” the article was posted by Jason Edge of Verifone, a global electronic payment service provider. In the post, the author pointed out the growing trend towards applications being delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and their inherent benefits – lower upfront costs for end users, predictive recurring revenues for developers, and convenient access to business applications from most anywhere – all which hold true today. But the author also pointed out the downside to SaaS applications and that being the availability and quality of Internet access – whether it be slow in some instances or simply not available in others. In those cases, the author proposed that conventional electronic software delivery models with applications hosted on local machines vs. over the Internet was still a valid requirement. However, one would think that over the course of the past ten years those issues had been resolved – high availability, high quality Internet access is ubiquitous, is it not?
The answer is no, not in all cases, and that in my opinion is the prophetic part of the 10-year-old post. Certainly, SaaS has proliferated in the past decade and given birth to creative software monetization and delivery strategies, from subscriptions to consumption-based to features-on-demand. And, today, it would be hard to find many areas where the Internet is not available. Consumers have reaped the benefits as Internet access is available to some extent on trains, ships, and airplanes and is a standard amenity in hotels, particularly for business travelers. While the quality of access can often be somewhat poor in these instances, bandwidth is generally good enough to enjoy online communication and run the most popular lightweight business applications without problems.
However, I can think of two areas where Internet access, or quality of service is still an issue and not necessarily a good fit for SaaS-only application access.
Security: As part of Industry 4.0, more and more manufacturing data is sent across the Internet, e.g., for predictive maintenance. In most cases, the data is captured and passed on to the Internet via dedicated gateways. Still, manufacturing facilities on the proverbial shop floor are often not hooked up to the Internet, but instead run offline and fully autonomously. The reasons for this are obvious: Machines will not suddenly come to a standstill should the Internet connection break down. This could lead to massive costs down the line – just imagine a furnace falling cold in a steelworks. At the same time, keeping separate from the Internet protects from cyberattacks and sabotage. Attackers cannot tamper with devices they simply cannot reach.
Bandwidth: The second area for consideration is with mobile users who are running extremely complex applications requiring the highest Internet bandwidth to operate efficiently where SaaS simply is not an option. Many of our customers, in the industrial automation, transportation, engineering, geophysics, and other highly sophisticated vertical application areas, fit into that category.
So, as suggested by our prophetic author, perhaps a hybrid approach to SaaS and on-premise applications running on local machines is the best solution. At Wibu-Systems, we agree that a hybrid model is the best approach in some instances and one of the reasons we have developed our CodeMeter License Central solution that caters to both SaaS and on-premise implementations, or a combination thereof.
For Wibu-Systems, it all starts with the software license. In a hybrid model, developers provide the ability to enable its end user to access the license to run the software anytime and anywhere: on-premise, in a private cloud, or in popular environments like Amazon Web Service or Microsoft Azure. For offline scenarios, all they need is either the ability to temporarily connect to the Internet, or to exchange a license file via file transfer. The end user can activate the license at his device and use it offline. In online scenarios, the license is stored in a secure user bound container in the cloud and used directly online in the cloud.
As predicted 10 years ago, there is a real need for hybrid SaaS and on-premise software licensing solutions. If you would like to know more about cloud licensing, especially for offline scenarios, I invite you to attend our webinar, Cloud-Based Licensing in Offline Scenarios, November 8. If you are not available at the time, you can still register and we will send you a link to the recording afterwards. During the webinar, we will discuss different approaches to transfer licenses from the cloud to an offline device. This will be a great opportunity to see the best deployment strategy for your application and workflows.
VP Professional Services | Security Expert
After completing his physics degree course in 1995, he was head of project management for software protection, software distribution, internet banking, and multimedia projects. In 2003, he joined Wibu-Systems and, as part of his role, contributed substantially to the development of Blurry Box technology.