Among all SLM tools in the market, there are three key elements in general that are crucial to forming the tool. Even though there are many features that provided end-to-end from different vendors to vendors.
“Envelop” for Protection
One of the strongest secured protection methods for software Intellectual Property (IP) is by protecting the original programming codes before they are sent to the customer. The common malicious code hacking activity is via the process of reverse engineering. There are even tools available to download publicly from the internet to reverse compiled codes. As IP and algorithms of the original codes are often exposed if it is unprotected. Therefore, an important element will be needed to perform obfuscation of these vulnerable codes commonly called “Code Dressing”. This means assuming the hacker is able to view the original code after reverse engineer the software codes. The obfuscated codes will not be able to understand by the hacker. Especially for software written in Java, C, and Microsoft .NET framework. As to Thales Sentinel, Envelop is the functional module to perform obfuscation and also encryption on the software codes. This is the reason that tool has been designed to accommodate different scenarios like protection methods to become a generic tool in the industry.
“Entitlement” Management System
Another key element in an SLM tool will be “Entitlement”. For this element, the main goal will be entitling a customer’s right or license to use a software, device, or embedded software. The entitlement process is to facilitate vendors to design their multiple pricing and packaging strategy. Therefore, the license can be entitled and delivered to the customer base on the package purchased. Agility is a key element as the vendor will be able to flexibly pre-set models like perpetual, feature, time subscription, and pay-per-use. Once the model is defined, it can be issued and used in different platforms like IoT, mobile devices, embedded devices, cloud, and traditional computers. This is like a workflow that to design once and repeatedly using it (One to many) concept.
An Entitlement Management System should be able to support license issuing and renewal in both manual and automated mode. Online mode can be integrated to web portals via Application Programming Interface (API) for product activation or renewal. Vice versa for offline mode, licenses can be enabled via hardware dongle or software-based license for the customer even without an online connection. Entitlement Management System also allows managing customers’ licensing information and channel partners information for the vendor. As some vendors are selling directly to customers and some are selling via resellers or distributors. It is like a centralized database for all licenses issued.
The third element is becoming important in recent years as this element is designed to study the usage behavior of a customer. The goal of this element is to allow the vendor to collect their customer usage information of their software. It is predicted by 2022, 50% of software solution vendors will use anonymized collected data with their software monetization tool to analyse, benchmark and enhance their offering to their customers (Thomason, 2019). This is an important development marking a huge step that vendors can understand the need of their customers but also the strength and weaknesses of their software.
Technology Marketing Corp. (2020). Software Monetization Articles. https://software-monetization.tmcnet.com/
Thales Sentinel. (2020). License, Deliver, Protect Your Software to Grow your business. https://cpl.thalesgroup.com/software-monetization
Thomason, M. (2019). Worldwide Digital Business Model and Monetization 2020 Top 10 predictions. #US44643119. IDC