Traditional and Newer CAD Licensing Models

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Improvements in software delivery models especially via Cloud have made significant changes in the way content in consumed and priced. The product development industry is not immune to these changes but when it comes to CAD (computer aided design) software there are bigger barriers to delivery as well as consumption of cloud based CAD software. My intent is not to discuss the barriers and ways to overcome those in this write-up, but to layout the existing and new changes that have come about in the delivery and licensing of CAD, in the light of the cost savings offered by  Cloud.

Traditionally there have been two types of licenses based on duration – Perpetual (indefinite use of license once bought) and Annual (limited use for one year duration). Other licensing models include: –

    • Standalone – Licenses are controlled by the computer or seats, they are perpetual licenses. They can be further divided into: –
      • Individual/Per Seat – Sometimes also referred to individual license or licensing provided per individual. Usually a single license is installed with a single serial number for use on one computer.
      • Multi-seat – Multiple licenses on multiple computers.
    • Network Licensing – CAD software can be installed on multiple computers but a network licensing server centrally controls how many users are allowed to use the CAD software. The network license is invoked by each machine which is granted access based on number of licenses bought by the firm. Firms can save on costs by allowing sharing of licenses between users if all users will not be connected to the CAD application at the same time. This license type is also referred as Server Based or “Per Server”.
    • Concurrent License – Sometimes also referred to as Site Licensing. The license is controlled by concurrent usage of a certain number of active licenses from a pool of installed licenses.
    • Corporate Licensing – This method provides unlimited licensing for the entire corporate including its subsidiaries and wholly owned firms.

Lately CAD vendors have introduced new licensing models also known as Subscription, Rental or Pay As you Go etc. While the three names are used interchangeably by CAD software vendors, the onus is on the customers to understand the difference between each vendors licensing policy.

Autodesk’s subscription model is an add-on to the traditional perpetual licensing that promises the users to get an upgrade within the subscription period free of charge. Subscription period lasts for a term, as much as a year. On the other hand Siemens provides a monthly subscription license for Solid Edge. I recently covered Siemens’ subscription model user case study on engineering.com for their customer Felxipump.

I believe we will continue to see more creative licensing options from CAD vendors in near future. Such models will only benefit the CAD users  making the software cheaper and more accessible, but the users/firms need to thoroughly understand the licensing model of a vendor as these newer licensing models can be confusing.

 

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