Licensing in the Cloud: facilitating a smooth transformation to home working
27.05.2020 Terry Gaul
The novel Coronavirus pandemic has turned the global workforce upside down, forcing millions of workers to conduct business at home, whether they are emotionally ready or not, if their homes are prepared to adapt to a pseudo workplace, or if their company’s IT infrastructure and workflows have been adequately realigned to productively handle a large remote workforce. Small and medium size companies as well as large enterprises like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Google have implemented remote working for the foreseeable future, at least to the end of 2020. While only approximately 25 percent of U.S. workers were found to work at home at least occasionally, according to a 2017-2018 survey by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, today, it is estimated that nearly 50% of all organizations are implementing remote work policies amidst the current COVID-19 epidemic (Willis Towers Watson Survey). And, many companies are considering extending their work at home policies, at least for some of their workforce, indefinitely.
As disruptive as the pandemic crisis has been to business as usual, many companies are seeing the advantages of a remote workforce, causing some employers to rethink the “where”, “when”, and “how” to work. The conventional business paradigm requiring sometimes hour-plus commutes for employees may be changing. A recent survey by Global Workplace Analytics revealed that 77% of the workforce would prefer to work at home after the CV-19 crisis subsides. For employers, remote working can help save operational costs while reducing real estate needs for accommodating onsite workers and their carbon footprint. The Willis Towers Watson survey estimates that 25-30% of the U.S. workforce will work at home on multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021.
To make it all possible in the long term, organizations must ensure that remote employees have the tools they need, such as modern computer equipment, collaboration apps, videoconferencing solutions, and access to critical documents and applications when they need them – all in a secure communication environment.
Software will play a critical role in this mobile business transformation and the ability to protect and secure digital assets outside of the traditional company borders to accommodate remote working will be more essential than ever. ISVs and embedded system manufacturers will need to re-consider their software licensing models to enable the utmost flexibility so that remote workers have ready access to their software when they need it and on whichever device they happen to be using.
Versatile software licensing systems employing dongles or software activations, bound to a specific computer hardware, combined with techniques such as license borrowing and license transfers have been adequate up until now. However, with the major transformation towards remote working, new licensing schemes are required.
Consider three of many possible scenarios:
Peter works in the office 2 days per week on a desktop computer and from his home office on a different laptop the remaining 3 days. He may own a software license bound to the desktop in the office but will need the license to operate the software from his home office. How does he obtain the required license from the home office?
5 employees may be sharing two licenses within their workgroup for an expensive software package. When they are all in the office together, it is easy to share the license by passing a dongle with the license between them. How are those two licenses easily shared when needed while the employees work independently from their home office?
Carla usually works one week from home and the other in the office. At the end of the day on each Friday, she transfers the license from the home computer to the office computer, and vice versa on subsequent weeks. But due to a sudden snowstorm over the weekend, the planned Monday trip to the office is cancelled – how can Carla get her already transferred license back from the unreachable office computer to her home computer?
The licensing flexibility required to address remote working scenarios such as these can be found in a cloud-based license management system. For a case in point, let’s take a look at Wibu-Systems’ CodeMeter cloud licensing technology. The CodeMeter Cloud solution comes with access to a highly secure and scalable server in the cloud, operated by Wibu-Systems, which provides secure access to any defined licenses. As is the case with CodeMeter dongle-based and software-activated licenses, any license used with CodeMeter Cloud can be created and delivered through the cloud-based license management system, called CodeMeter License Central. Instead of activating the license in a local CodeMeter License Container, it is transferred to a special CodeMeter Cloud Container (CmCloudContainer) on the CodeMeter Cloud server. Provided they have the right credentials, users can then access the license directly and use it like any local license. Since CodeMeter Cloud integrates with the standard CodeMeter technology and workflows, any applications protected using CodeMeter Protection Suite will automatically be compatible with CodeMeter Cloud.
The main innovation is a novel type of container, CmCloudContainer, that holds the licenses of the user. The CmCloudContainer is bound to a known user and managed on the CodeMeter Cloud server. The end user needs the right credentials to access that container. Only these credentials are stored locally. The CmCloudContainer and the licenses always remain in the cloud, where they can be updated, renewed, or retrieved by the license owner, and the effects can be seen virtually instantly.
Traditional licensing solutions need users to actively return their licenses if they are to be used on another device. With CodeMeter Cloud, the user can re-use the license from another device without any specific action on their part, as long as it is the same user with the same credentials: the CmCloudContainer is not bound to a device, but to a known user. With CodeMeter Cloud, there is no need for users to carry around dongles or keep license files that are bound to one machine only. Instead, users are free to access their licenses anywhere and from any device. By defining the number of licenses, the software vendor can determine whether and how often a license can be used in parallel. CmCloudContainers also work with all CodeMeter protection mechanisms, can contain multiple licenses, are easy to set up, and just as secure as dongles.
If you are an ISV or embedded system developer and your customers are relying primarily on a mobile workforce, I encourage you to watch our recorded Webinar, Mobile Licenses in the Cloud, which presents the entire process and the steps involved to move licensing to the cloud. If you want to evaluate the system, Wibu-Systems is making available its brand-new cloud-based license containers for free throughout Q2/2020, so you can offer software licenses to home office workers from the comfort of a secure cloud environment. Learn more about the program.
Vice President Sales USA
Terry Gaul is a sales and business development professional with extensive experience in the software and technology sectors. He has been involved with software protection and licensing technologies for more than 20 years and currently serves as Vice President of Sales at Wibu-Systems USA. When he is not helping customers with software licensing, Terry typically can be found coaching his daughters' soccer teams or camping with his family on the Maine coast.