Enterprise and the app: What challenges do developers face?

Consumerisation of IT is gaining hold and customers are looking to deliver user-friendly enterprise applications to employees who are accustomed to a “there’s an app for that” mentality.

So application producers are realising the need to alter their monetisation models so that they can cater to an “appified” enterprise - capturing revenue from customers who want task-specific applications and the flexibility to pay based on how they are actually using an application.

Producers also are trying to simplify their access and activation models so that enterprise users can enjoy an app-store like, one-click access and activation that they’re accustomed to with consumer apps.

Clearly, producers recognise that they need to adopt a more app-centric way of licensing, but they face numerous challenges. It requires time, resources and money to build, manage and maintain these new software licensing, entitlement management and delivery systems that are needed to enable an appified enterprise.

So, what can producers do to overcome these challenges?

Automating Software Monetisation

Software licensing, entitlement management and delivery are not usually top of mind for software vendors and device manufacturers looking to increase revenues, market share and margins. However, standardising, automating and building flexibility into software monetisation is absolutely critical.

Most producers develop their own licensing and entitlement management technology today. However, homegrown solutions don't have the flexibility required to keep up with a fast changing market. And most producers don’t have the resources to specialise in licensing or to keep up with the latest trends - to their detriment.

Automating software monetisation is critical to empowering application producers to maximise new and recurring revenue through flexible software licensing, activation, delivery and full lifecycle management of customer usage rights.

For instance, vendors require flexibility if they want the ability to rapidly adopt new business models for on-premises, cloud, embedded and mobile applications, streamline quote-to-cash processes, ensure revenue recognition, deliver a positive customer experience and reduce operational costs and complexities.

Automating software monetisation accomplishes this through flexible pricing, packaging, and licensing of applications.

Software vendors also increasingly need the flexibility to creatively price, package, and bundle products for broader and deeper market penetration. Automating software monetisation enables this, allowing vendors, for instance, to quickly create lite, standard, and premium product versions to better target customers and markets.

Vendors can also leverage licensing to create multiple software products - on-premises, SaaS, Cloud, virtualised and embedded - to address different markets and geographies; and enable cross-sell and up-sell for products licensed together as packages and suites.

Security: Preventing Revenue Leakage and Protecting Against Hacker Threat

Tooling up for an “appified” enterprise also has security implications. Vendors must consider revenue leakage due to customer software license non-compliance, piracy and hackers.

Automation around software licensing and entitlement management provides significant security advantages by ensuring that only licensed and credentialed users can access a product according to the producer’s own licensing terms, without impacting usability and customer satisfaction.

An example of how these systems accomplish compliance protection is by detecting cloning in virtual environments. This lets producers choose whether they’d like to prevent cloning by detecting the virtualisation of the software and denying access, or allow it and instead implement the appropriate licensing model to monetise cloning when it does occur.

Security benefits delivered via automated software monetisation also extend to protection from software pirates and hackers. Any software monetisation solution should provide a “Ring of Defense” strategy to ensure tamper-resistance. This strategy is analogous to fortifying a home against burglary by making it significantly more difficult to gain entry and steal what’s inside:

  • Resistance - Adding a “Moat” Around Software: Licensing technology can create a secure barrier around software, making illegal entry by hackers significantly more difficult by preventing debugging and application signature spoofing - techniques hackers undertake to reverse engineer the application and gain illegal entry.
  • Obfuscation - Hiding the “Front Door”: Enhanced code-obfuscation makes it harder for hackers to conduct static analysis on the application to find an entry point - the “front door.” The software monetisation technology should be able to hide strings, variables and functions that control the flow of software and application data, which may contain sensitive information, making it significantly more difficult for hackers to find the code logic and gain illegal entry.
  • Detection - Adding “Motion Sensors” and “Alarms” Signaling Intrusion: A good software licensing technology will also secure application integrity and maximise protection against block tampering. Licensing features that detect when hackers try to modify the application in memory and on disk are essential. “Call-home” notification alerts are also critical because they effectively detect unauthorised intrusion within the application and sound the alarm to notify the producer of the illegal intrusion.

Preparing for an employee-centric, task-oriented, “appified” enterprise requires a bottom-up rethinking of software licensing and entitlement management.

The need for flexibility in supporting multiple licensing models and simple activation - all while guarding against revenue leakage and hacker threats - means that the decades-old, build-your-own mentality around software licensing has to change in favour of automation that provides flexibility today, and investment protection tomorrow.

By Vincent Smyth is senior vice president EMEA at Flexera Software.