Under the control of network floating licensing, software can be installed on many or all computers throughout your customer's organization allowing a prescribed number of end-users (determined by the software license) to run the software at the same time. When the ceiling is reached, a new user will need to wait for a previously authorized user to complete use of the software and terminate his or her session. This provides your customers with more flexibility in maximizing the use of your software while still giving you the control to limit usage.
There are several compelling reasons why software companies are typically interested in licensing by concurrent user, such as:
There are numerous considerations associated with the concepts of network floating licensing, such as:
The focus of this blog post is Network Floating Licensing for a desktop application. The concept of concurrent user limitations for a web application will be the topic of a future blog post.
We have explored several approaches to enforcing a maximum number of concurrent users in a running application.
Have you ever tried to open an Office document from a network shared folder and seen a dialog box that the file was being edited and give you the option to open read-only or be notified when the document is available for editing? An exclusive file locking technique is a simple and often a sufficient way to track the number of concurrent users on a small network where all users are connected to the same folder for sharing files.
For over 20 years, Protection PLUS has featured the concept of Network Floating Licensing using a simple file server along with an exclusive file locking technique. This can limit the number of concurrent executions of your software at a given customer’s location, and every customer can have a different number of allowed concurrent users. We have many customers using this system as it stands today with great success.
The ensuing step above the local file server approach would be to install Network Floating Licensing software on one of the customer’s servers. This would, naturally, require the engagement of the customer’s IT staff to set up and maintain but would not require uninterrupted Internet access.
To make such a system that is easy for the developers to implement AND easy for the IT administrators to install and maintain AND secure to make it difficult to tamper with (especially because this system is running in an untrusted environment where you have no control) presents a significant challenge for any development team. For this reason, the SoftwareKey Team continues working on this until we are satisfied with a solution that best addresses and balances all of these requirements.
For applications that mandate Internet access or if Internet access is available to your customers when they run the software, the concept of Network Floating Licensing can be implemented using a central server on the Internet.
Network Floating Licensing using the Internet can be implemented using Protection PLUS 5 SDK and SOLO Server. We have developed a licensing API with full check-in/check-out capabilities. Instead of installing software on a local customer server to enforce concurrency, a single central SOLO Server license is shared by all of your customers. Please contact us to learn how to evaluate this system and for pricing.
The Cloud-Controlled Network Floating Licensing option has greatly simplified our license authentication process. Moving from a LAN approach to a WAN approach has also made our clients' lives easier, as they only need to manage one account for all offices instead of the one-license-per-office approach. And if it makes our clients happy, it makes us happy.
License authentication time using the Cloud approach is proving to be significantly faster than license authentication using a WAN approach in conjunction with some clients' own server.
Network floating licensing allows you to provide a licensing model that is convenient and efficient for your customers. The SoftwareKey System offers multiple approaches to achieve the best results for your particular needs based on the considerations described here. If you have any general questions about network floating licensing or feedback on this post, please contact us!
Mike Wozniak is one of the co-founders of SoftwareKey.com and responsible for marketing, content and product strategy. When he isn’t plotting new ways to help customers solve licensing and business automation challenges, he likes to travel and entertain guests who come to visit the Orlando area. He also writes most of the licensing tips here.
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