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Current challenges in Software License Management - and solutions
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Current challenges in Software License Management - and solutions


Independent software vendors (ISVs) have to deal with many issues in securely protecting their revenues while meeting customers' demands for convenience and flexibility. For example, Internet-based …

Independent software vendors (ISVs) have to deal with many issues in securely protecting their revenues while meeting customers' demands for convenience and flexibility. For example, Internet-based activation works well for both ISVs and their users, but what about users whose systems have no Internet connection, or whose system crashes, or who need to relocate their license, or who want to regularly renew a subscription license or update a usage-based license?

Perhaps product activation will work for the majority of customers, but how do ISVs support enterprise customers who want floating licensing or activation of licenses from a pool?

Securing a license by locking it to hardware parameters of your user's system is a proven approach for copy protection, but what about virtual systems, where hardware parameters can change for legitimate users?

Perhaps an ISV needs to upgrade from an insecure and cumbersome in-house or obsolete commercial licensing tool - how can they smoothly migrate their products and customers to a modern licensing solution, and minimize the development effort required?

This presentation covers these topics and more, and describes practical solutions with case studies of how ISVs are using them today to securely protect their revenues.

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  • 1. Santa Clara, California, USA Current challenges in software license management - and solutions Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 1
  • 2. About Agilis Software • 8-year-old California company focused on developing and marketing license management solutions • A clean-sheet approach to software licensing: – Internet, WANs, VPNs, firewalls, proxy servers are ubiquitous – Reliable network connectivity cannot be assumed – Selected standards for deployability, portability and interoperability (HTTP, RDBMS, XML, Web Services, J2EE, ANSI C/C++, Java) – Watchwords: developer/end-user ease-of-use, flexibility, extensibility, scalability, openness, cost of operations/support, license lifecycle management • Worldwide customer base: – Customers include leading software / hardware vendors in Finance, Defense, Networking, Semiconductor and other industries. • Customer deployments in the most demanding environments: – US and other defense forces, leading international financial institutions, US federal security agencies, ... Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 2
  • 3. Agilis’s license management solutions EasyLicenser is an easy-to-use, Standalone license management flexible software license manager solution suitable for: - Standalone desktop applications - Multi-threaded server applications Orion is a flexible, secure and Network licensing solution suitable powerful Internet-generation for: network licensing platform - Internet-based product activation - Internet/intranet-based floating licensing Acropolis is an on-demand Managed licensing solution for: managed service for hosted Orion- - Eliminating hosted license based licensing server hardware, software, operations and support costs Acropolis Integration Manager is Automation of license lifecycle an on-demand licensing lifecycle management for applications management service protected with Orion, EasyLicenser and legacy key-based systems Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 3
  • 4. Automating node-locking Problem: Manual node-locking is time-consuming, inconvenient and error-prone Solutions: • Product activation from a hosted license server • Product activation on disconnected systems • Deferred node-locking • User self-service node-locking Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 4
  • 5. Product Activation overview – with an Internet connection ISV or Email with the Product - Customer Serial Number - Address reseller - Products Protected desktop, - ..... server application Order Management System 1. ISV/reseller receives an order and configures the License license in the hosted Orion server under a unique configuration Product Serial Number. Internet 2. The Product Serial Number is sent to the user. Orion 3. The user installs the application, and is prompted License to enter the Product Serial Number. Repository License check Database Orion Server 4. The licensing software contacts the Orion server to check the license is available, and obtains the license limits. Product X - Trial domain 5. The license limits, and the target system locking - Email address #1 parameters, are encrypted in a local Activation - Email address #2 Record. - ………. - Production domain 6. Each time the application runs it interrogates the - Product Serial #9876 local Activation Record to obtain the license - Product Serial #8465 limits and check the locking parameters. - ……….. Product Y - .... Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 5
  • 6. Key benefits of Orion-based product activation • Many license models: trial, subscription, feature-based, usage- based (metered or debiting)… • Automatic activation on connected systems, with ‘Fuzzy Fingerprinting’ extensible node-locking • Also track maintenance/support subscriptions • Secure licensing via resellers / partners • Secure user self-service license relocation, with User Briefcase • Option for data upload/download at activation time e.g. user registration • Licenses can be revocable • Email alerts, and built-in reporting • Also supports activation from a redistributed server • Also supports floating licensing (hosted or redistributed server) Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 6
  • 7. Activation on disconnected systems Problem: You can’t assume that all users will have a network connection from their system Solutions: As applicable, use any of the following: ‘Sneakernet’, or user self-service activation via file exchange Licensing via proxy servers Key pre-generation Dongle-based licensing Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 7
  • 8. Product Activation with no Internet connection – self-service ‘sneakernet’ - Customer - Address ISV or Reseller - Products User’s desktop / - ..... server system Order Management System Internet 1. The licensing software cannot connect to the server, so it encrypts the Product Serial Number and locking parameters in the Fingerprint File. 2. The user is instructed to save this file onto a Orion Server transportable medium, and upload it at any Internet terminal. Product X 3. The Orion server accepts the file, and returns the - Trial domain Activation Record, which the user places on the - Email address #1 target system. - Email address #2 - ………. 4. Same outcome as for a connected system. - Production domain  Fully automated from the ISV’s - Product Serial #9876 perspective - Product Serial #8465  Autonomous and on-demand for the user - ………..  Secure Product Y - ....  Batch mode available Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 8
  • 9. Product Activation with no Internet connection – isolated corporate networks - Customer - Address Vendor or - Products Reseller - ..... Order Management System Internet DMZ Orion Server Product X - Trial domain - Email address #1 Any HTTP Proxy Server Automated activation / relocation - Email address #2 in non-authenticated or of licenses, using Orion’s direct - ………. basic-authenticated client-side support for forward - Production domain mode HTTP proxy servers - Product Serial #9876 or and the - Product Serial #8465 Orion License Proxy Orion License Proxy Server - ……….. Server Product Y - .... Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 9
  • 10. Node-locking without requiring return of the fingerprint file: key pre-generation - Customer - Address ISV or Reseller - Products - ..... Order Management System User’s desktop / server system 1. The locking parameters are already known by whatever means e.g. system serial number. Orion Server 2. The activation record file is generated using the Agilis key-generation utility Product X - Trial domain 3. The activation record is delivered to the end-user - Email address #1 by email, snail-mail or hand-carrying, and - Email address #2 installed on the system. - ………. - Production domain - Product Serial #9876 - Product Serial #8465 - ……….. Product Y - .... Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 10
  • 11. Dongle-based licensing is also an option - Customer - Address ISV or Reseller - Products - ..... Order Management System User’s desktop / server system 1. A suitable hardware component with a unique, readable signature is used as the dongle (e.g. a Orion Server USB Ethernet module) 2. The activation record file locked to this signature Product X is generated using the Agilis key-generation - Trial domain utility - Email address #1 - Email address #2 3. The activation record and the hardware - ………. component enable the application to run on any - Production domain system where both are installed. - Product Serial #9876 - Product Serial #8465 - ……….. Product Y - .... Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 11
  • 12. Deferred node-locking with EasyLicenser Approach – defer setting the locking parameters until the time the license key is installed, when they are automatically read and recorded. Pros • No user action required other than installing the key • No opportunities for human error • One key can support several users • No network connection required from the users’ systems. • Can lock to several system parameters • Also supports deferred-time-limited licenses e.g. trial licensing. Cons • Security issue: one key can be used many times within its ‘shelf life’. • Upgrades require that a new key be issued and installed. Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 12
  • 13. Product Activation For Enterprise Environments Problem: Enterprise customers with many licenses may not want to manage and track a unique Product Serial Number per license Solution: Enterprise licensing – ‘n’ licenses are managed in a pool under one Product Serial Number. • Identical to PSN-based-product activation, except licensing parameters are defined at the pool level • Identical offline activation / deactivation mechanisms • A username may nevertheless be optionally specified for auditing / reporting • Enterprise pool can be on a hosted or redistributed Orion server Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 13
  • 14. Securing licenses on virtual systems Problem: Conventional node-locking system hardware parameters (MAC address, disk ID) can change for legitimate users. Solution: Lock to invariant software parameters of a unique session. “We allow our customers to install our application on a virtual machine; in this case we lock to both the machine’s logical host name and the user’s log-in name in addition to multiple hardware parameters, thus keeping our license secure and at the same time allowing them to run on a virtual system where some of the hardware parameters may legitimately change”. Matt Wise, Director of IT, Blueprint Systems 2. For maximum security – employ leased licensing, where each license is periodically revalidated against the license server. Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 14
  • 15. Supporting node-locked and floating licensing Problem: Your smaller users may be happy with node-locked licensing, but what if your enterprise customers request floating licensing? Solution: Just deploy floating licensing from either a hosted or redistributed Orion Server as preferred. A hosted Server for floating licensing has the following advantages: • No license server for your customers to install, manage or update • You have access to all licensing activity data • All customers' license pools managed from one server, with each pool's license limits set individually • Licenses are revocable by you as the vendor “If we see deployment issues with a NumeriX-hosted server, we have the option of offering floating licensing from a redistributed server. We can also offer node-locked licensing from this redistributed server in future. Furthermore, since Orion supports Internet-based product activation and floating licensing with the same client library and a single application integration, we didn’t have to ask Engineering to make changes to our application when we added licensing from a redistributed server”. - Saeed Siddiqui, Vice President of QA, NumeriX Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 15
  • 16. Automating operations / transitioning from older licensing tools Problem: License administration is manual, time-consuming and inconvenient for our users. How can we automate licensing operations …and what can we do to simplify operations for our legacy products without having to re-engineer all of them? Solution: Agilis’s AIM On-demand License Lifecycle Management Service. AIM: • Automates the license management lifecycle • Is rapidly configurable for new products. • Eliminates infrastructure and operations costs for you and your customers • Supports user self-service node-locking • Consolidates disparate underlying licensing tools under one management system for internal, reseller and enterprise-customer personnel • Improves your end-users’ experience Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 16
  • 17. For further details URL: Email: Tel.: (408) 404 8480 extension 611 Copyright © Agilis Software LLC 2010 Slide 17