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Ten Considerations When Choosing A Licensing Solution

Desaware has been developing software since 1991. We were one of the first companies to release a licensing solution for . NET in 2002. We’ve created this document based on the numerous email questions that we have received. Each question consists of three parts, the question itself, why the question is important and how our Desaware Licensing System (DLS) addresses the solution.

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Q: How easy is it to integrate your licensing solution with your code?
A: You want the licensing solution to be as flexible as possible with your code, whether you integrate your licensing solution at the beginning, the middle or the end your project. You also need to be able to make changes and additions to the licensing model as your market changes.
DLS: Fancy wizards may make it seem easy to integrate licensing into your code, but that ease disappears as soon as your requirements lie outside of those scenarios envisioned by the wizard author. With the DLS, the entire user experience and user interface is determined in your code. Use our templates, or create your own custom user experience.

Q: How strong do you want your licensing scheme to be?  Must your customers validate the application every time they use it or just once?
A: Having your application verify its license every time the software is used is the strongest type of compliance. What happens if your customer cannot access the internet? How will your licensing scheme address this situation?
DLS: The Desaware Licensing System is certificate based. Once you obtain a certificate from the server, it can be verified on the user’s system without connection to the Internet or other server. You can obtain an certificate via Email or other means if a direct Internet connection is unavailable. The certificate is digitally signed to maintain security. Of course, you can accept the lower security of an unsigned certificate if you wish.

Q: Is the cost of the licensing software you choose a one time cost, are there yearly fees or royalty fees?
A: In order to enforce royalty or leasing fees, there must be some mechanism in the licensing solution that counts or controls the licensing solution software. Which means that you are not in complete control of the licensing solution software. What happens to your product if you have problems with the solution provider?
DLS: Our own licensing scenario is simple: The Desaware Licensing System is licensed per developer (the client portion) and per-server domain/URL. Once you have a license, it is perpetual for that machine or licensed URL (for servers) – there are no royalties based on how many applications you license or number of licenses. Also, we don’t own your licensing server – you can use your own server or a hosted solution.

Q: What type of tech support will you receive with the product?
A: Is it free, per contact or an annual agreement? Paying for tech support will increase your development costs. How long does it take to receive a response to your questions? Whether you are waiting or your customers are waiting for your response a prompt response is essential.
DLS: We provide unlimited free Email technical support. Phone support has a nominal charge. Custom application development or debugging of your code can be done on a consulting basis.

Q: How long has the company been in business?
A: While longevity does not always guaranty the future, it is does generally mean that the company is cognizant of its users’ needs and requirements.
DLS: Desaware has been a component and tools vendor for Microsoft technologies since 1991.

Q: What happens when your customer crashes their machine or needs to transfer a license?
A: How will your licensing solution allow you to help a customer when (not if!) this happens?
DLS: License revocation schemes actually represent an attack vector against a licensing system (as the user can often restore a revoked license by restoring their system or certificate). As such, our system is designed without an automatic revocation scheme – however version 2.0 does add a revocation plug-in that can be used for this purpose.

Q: What is the return policy for the licensing software?
A: The investment of your time is most important, but what happens if you reach an impasse? Must you lose your monetary investment also?
DLS: We offer a 30 day unconditional guarantee, and will gladly extend it if you need more time for evaluating the product. The Desaware Licensing System demo is fully functional for 30 days and the demo period can also be extended on request.

Q: How are you going to sell your application?  One time charge, subscription, charges for updates?
A: It is easier to evaluate as licensing solution if these questions have been answered. A point to consider, what happens if you change your mind? Can your licensing solution accommodate a change?
DLS: The Desaware Licensing System is an infrastructure product – it is designed to be extended and integrated into your backend systems (all activation and management tasks are via standard SOAP web services). As such, we can support a wide variety of scenarios. Our customers are constantly adapting it to licensing scenarios that we never anticipated.

Q: Will you host the license server in-house or utilize a shared hosting service? Which services are compatible, how much is the cost and how must it be configured?
A: Who is in control of the licenses you issue? If you do not control where your license information is stored then you do not control your licenses. As to the second part of the question, your time should be invested in developing product, not determining which hosting service is compatible with your licensing solution.
DLS: The Desaware Licensing System is a server activation based product. We ourselves do not provide a server because we believe you should have total control over your own license server (this is, after all, a security product). The DLS runs on any Windows 2003 and 2008 server (XP through Windows 7 with IIS installed). It will run on any dedicated server or VPS solution. There are also several shared hosts that will support the DLS server (shared hosts must run the server in full trust). Detailed instructions about configuring your software to run on a shared host are available on our web site.

Q: What are features you must have (need), what are the features you would like (want)?
A: It is important to determine what features you must have and what features you would like in a software solution. Every extra line of code is a potential weakness in your licensing solution.
DLS: We believe that feature lists are a poor way to evaluate a licensing system, as every feature represents a potential attack vector. When you read our documentation, you’ll see that security is the subject we tackle first, last and always throughout the document. We’ve created a core functionality and security infrastructure that is as simple as possible, while providing a high level of extensibility so that you can adapt it to suit your own needs without compromising security (or rather, making sure that if you do compromise security it is by choice, and not by accident).

Learn more about the Desaware Licensing System or Download a fully functional demo.

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