Note: This is a continuation of our series on agile development processes written by Peter Varhol - principal of Technology Strategy Research, an industry research firm specializing in software development, testing, and deployment topics. Peter is a nationally recognized writer and speaker on software development topics. He is a former professor of computer science and mathematics, and has graduate degrees in computer science, applied mathematics, and psychology.
Licensing software is one of the most common areas of friction between independent software vendors and their customers. The vast majority of customers want to pay for the software they use, but the act of obtaining and applying the correct licenses to the correct software can be burdensome. If independent software vendors can't deliver the license quickly and easily when it's needed, they risk losing the sale altogether, or at the very least unnecessarily antagonizing their customers.
To make it easier on their customers, an increasing number of independent software vendors are providing flexibility in their licensing options. For example, users can unlock individual features of applications or suites with a visit to a licensing website, or by having a license key emailed to them. In either case, it takes just a few minutes between the reception of the license key and the ability of the customer to start using the application productively.
The way to do this is to package the products into individual suites for common installation, but also provide the option of installing them as individual products. The independent software vendor maintains a single install with the ability to install and unlock one or more individual products as appropriate. The friction between application need and satisfaction is almost entirely eliminated.
At least one independent software vendor has used the ability to package together and license separately to offer only a single installation for its entire product line. This software vendor uses a license that floats across all of the products on a single computer, so that users can install all of them, and use those products that they need at the moment. If they need more than one at a time, they purchase multiple licenses. But all of the software products are packaged and installed together.
This business strategy totally eliminates the license friction between the independent software vendor and the customer. It isn't a strategy for all software vendors, but it is an example of how both licensing and installation can work together to support a business strategy. In many cases, thinking of licensing and installation together enables independent software vendors to refine their business models and even come up with new approaches to satisfy customer demand while not increasing development costs.
In addition to benefiting independent software vendors, enterprise software users increasingly want more detail into their application use. IT management is committed to controlling software costs by ensuring a high level of license use. It does neither the enterprise nor the independent software vendor any good to have large numbers of licenses not in use – the enterprise has wasted money, and the independent software vendor isn't likelyta to get upgrades or maintenance for those licenses.
Tagging software helps address this problem. Software tagging is evolving as an industry standard, enabling software independent software vendors to create smarter applications that give customers better information on installation and use for software asset management and license optimization initiatives.
Installation can help with the tagging process, by supporting the creation of software tags in the installation package in accordance with these evolving industry standards. This capability will enable independent software vendors to help enterprise customers by delivering better visibility into installed software in order to manage costs and improve software compliance.