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structural software subscription

structural software subscription

(OP)
This is a question for any structural engineers: Are there any advantages in subscribing to structural software as opposed to purchasing a perpetual license? It seems structural software companies are moving to subscription-based sale model.

RE: structural software subscription

My opinion is that the software developers need continuous flow of money to keep up with development. Buying a perpetual license and not getting an annual support contract, does not keep the money flowing that they count on to keep development going. Look at the costs of both options to see which is better in the long run. If you run the same models over and over and use the same design codes, you can buy a perpetual and lock in the cost without annual support and annual updates (you can't call tech support). If you want to use the latest building codes for newer projects as they become available, you will need to get updates (and pay for the support).

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

RE: structural software subscription

I used to have the stand alone software for Enercalc but switched to their monthly subscription based model earlier this year. Its a cost vs. benefit analysis you need to look at to see if its worth it or not. For me the small amount of money they charge on a monthly basis and the value I get from it is well worth it. Dont need to worry about updates, old codes, performance, ect. or anything similar because now they have cash flow for the man power to keep the machine well oiled.

RE: structural software subscription

I prefer purchase, with updates, so that I can archive a copy of the software with a project. It allows me to rerun a project, export it to a different format, etc, in the future even if I've switched to different software for newer work. It also allows you to archive a particular version. You're also protected against the software company stopping business or the software becoming suddenly unavailable.

RE: structural software subscription

Quote (TransmissionTowwers)

My opinion is that the software developers need continuous flow of money to keep up with development. Buying a perpetual license and not getting an annual support contract, does not keep the money flowing that they count on to keep development going

I definitely think that's part of it. Look at what the MathCAD guys have done for years. Every new release seems to change the "file format" for their software so that people with slightly older versions cannot open files saved by the newer versions.... forcing people to upgrade constantly if they want to share files with other companies. I get what they're doing, but it really upsets me. I would prefer to just pay a reasonable subscription rate every year rather than have them play these ridiculous games to keep their revenue up!

Now, there is another side of it that I have seen lately related that most people don't know about.... For decades structural software has been using hardware keys as their license protection. It's simple and easy. If you have the key, then you have the license. Once the user receives their key there is no work to be done by the vendor to ensure the license works. It's an excellent perpetual license model.

Now, however, license keys are falling out of favor. Some computers may no longer have USB drives. And, the 3rd party companies that provide the keys are failing to update drivers and are tacitly implying that they will stop providing them in the future. The software companies (like the one I work for) that rely on these forms of license protection are looking around for other options. And, these 3rd party companies which specialize in license protection are really pushing the subscription license model to anyone who inquires about what they should do to replace the hardware key model.



RE: structural software subscription

At Bentley we are seeing a shift from perpetual licenses toward subscription models, though we continue to offer both. Currently our subscription offers, like the "Structural Enterprise License", are a good value considering the flexibility and how much is available. For larger companies or larger projects there is an additional benefit of accounting for software costs mapped to specific projects.

RE: structural software subscription

Quote (Josh)

Now, there is another side of it that I have seen lately related that most people don't know about.... For decades structural software has been using hardware keys as their license protection. It's simple and easy. If you have the key, then you have the license. Once the user receives their key there is no work to be done by the vendor to ensure the license works. It's an excellent perpetual license model.

Quote (Seth)

At Bentley we are seeing a shift from perpetual licenses toward subscription models, though we continue to offer both. Currently our subscription offers, like the "Structural Enterprise License", are a good value considering the flexibility and how much is available. For larger companies or larger projects there is an additional benefit of accounting for software costs mapped to specific projects.

Josh and Seth, I moved away from Bentley to "that-company-that-Josh-works-for" because they still offered a simple hardlock for me to buy a stand-alone license. Unless I'm left with literally no other choice I will always go to a hardlock, standalone license file, or similar versus an online subscription. I know I'm not alone in this.

Also, I agree entirely about the MathCAD file format stupidity. I do all my computer driven calcs in excel so that I don't have to deal with not being able to share MathCAD files with others, despite MathCAD being superior in most aspects.

Quote (Cooper)

You're also protected against the software company stopping business or the software becoming suddenly unavailable.

Also this.

Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanConcrete/

RE: structural software subscription

I recently purchased a RISA subscription because it has one, absolutely enormous advantage for me. So long as only on person at a time is using the software, I can legally share it with anybody. At least that had better be the case since I called three separate RISA people to triple confirm that (seemed to good to be true). I find that model to be progressive, exceptionally fair, and of great value to my fledgling enterprise. Just last night, I began a collaboration with a fellow in Vietnam who will be using my RISA license while I sleep. A legal subscription to a RISA license is worth about two month's wages to my friend in Vietnam which is part of why bootleg software use over there is so ubiquitous.

I like to debate structural engineering theory -- a lot. If I challenge you on something, know that I'm doing so because I respect your opinion enough to either change it or adopt it.

RE: structural software subscription

In my opinion the subscription licensing is simply a profit machine for the software distributor which I completely respect and wholly disagree with. Given a choice I would always choose perpetual for several of the reasons already stated.

What I have seen on the landscape is distributors like Autodesk, to call out somebody, not exactly explaining fully what subscriptions means to the consumer such as the main drawback being if you stop paying you completely lose access to the software. While simultaneously jacking the price on the perpetual license renewals until the cost is astronomical. So it's not that consumers are choosing subscription it is that they aren't really being given another choice in the matter.

I would also somewhat disagree on the development costs, sorry Seth but going to throw Bentley under the bus here, we've been using RSS for the last decade+ and pay what I think is a pretty decent price per license number as well as the extorted quarterly costs. We pointed out last year or maybe the year prior that the concrete column design module is about a decade out of date, response we got was yep and they had no timeline to update it and didn't have any programmers on board to work on it. Apparently the programmers were tied up with the connect nonsense. So yeah there is development costs but it doesn't appear to have gone into actually updating the software. I have a firm belief if your going to charge me every year/month for the software then it better be up to date with current building codes and design practices.

RE: structural software subscription

I agree on Autodesk. I've been experimenting with Revit lately. First, it's pricey on a monthly basis. Secondly, I can't share it with anyone. Thirdly, I have to pay monthly for the collaborative space business if I want to really model share with anyone, even my own people.

I like to debate structural engineering theory -- a lot. If I challenge you on something, know that I'm doing so because I respect your opinion enough to either change it or adopt it.

RE: structural software subscription

Customer service and support haven't been mentioned. I am guessing that you get limited support if you purchase new a perpetual license or upgrade every so often. For me, the manufactures support can be invaluable.

I really can't comment on which licensing scheme has more value. I work for a large company with network licenses on most of our structural software.

RE: structural software subscription

@ Celt83, we did finally get some of the concrete codes updated in v15.5.

RE: structural software subscription

(OP)
Thank you all very much for your replies.

As a disclosure, I am the owner and developer of a small structural software company. I can understand why software companies want to have a steady flow of revenue using subscription model. However, here is my opinion regarding subscription model:
1. It is naive to think that subscription would reduce bugs in software. A lousy software developer will produce more bugs while fixing existing bugs or adding new features.
2. An end user should always be allowed to use the software at last version when the subscription stops.
3. A newer version of software should always be backward compatible.
4. An older version of the software should be able to open a file of newer version software. However, a user should be given a warning since newer version software usually contains features that are not available in older version software.

Overall, I agree with cooperDBM, a purchase with an option of upgrade.

RE: structural software subscription

Like some others have said: I'd prefer a stand alone license. But I still sometimes come across a picky client who will complain output doesn't have the latest codes called out. So (because of that) you are probably forced into a subscription situation.

RE: structural software subscription

Quote (KootK)

So long as only on person at a time is using the software, I can legally share it with anybody.

I did not know that about RISA subscription option. I would assume that every output file by any single legal user will be 'bannered' automatically by RISA with headers/footers with "KootK Consulting Engineers, Inc." or who ever is the legal subscriber.

RE: structural software subscription

Quote (Ingenuity)

I would assume that every output file by any single legal user will be 'bannered' automatically by RISA with headers/footers with "KootK Consulting Engineers, Inc." or who ever is the legal subscriber.

No, nothing shows up on the RISA print outs. The licensing should be mostly under KootK's control. Provided, of course, he's an Admin for his account. Being an Admin means he can add or revoke access for the other users.

Note:
Everyone does subscription licensing differently. So, I'm guessing your assumption may be true for some systems. But, I don't want to hijack this thread to talk about one company's subscription system vs another. The inherent issue for the OP (as I see it) is the question of "owning" the software vs "leasing" it.

RE: structural software subscription

Yeah, I sorta hijacked this hoping that Josh would respond to confirm my licensing assumptions with RISA. Love, love, love how it works. Josh can't say this but I sure can: this should be held up as the model for how to provide the maximum utility/value in licensing. If there are any Autdesk reps out there, take heed.

I can, and do, modify the output company name depending on what I'm up to. My only complaint is that, as an admin, I would like a way to forcibly, and immediately, kick other users off of the software without having to disown them altogether (and wait a while). Minor complaint. While RISA seems to allow what I'm doing, I'm not sure that the system was explicitly built with that in mind.

I like to debate structural engineering theory -- a lot. If I challenge you on something, know that I'm doing so because I respect your opinion enough to either change it or adopt it.

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