Why Change ePublisher Licensing?

An explanation of the challenges with ePublisher licensing in 2008 and plans for improvements in 2009, including reducing customer and internal efforts related to key management and increasing deployment flexibility.

by Ben Allums
February 5, 2009

or “What just happened to my 2008.1 keys?”

Back at RoundUp 2007, I presented the WebWorks ePublisher 2008 road map. Development was excited to start work on the new feature set. We were also a bit overwhelmed by the tasks we had set for ourselves: full FrameMaker 8 and Vista support (delivered with 2008.1), Eclipse Help (delivered with 2008.2), and wiki publishing to MoinMoin and MediaWiki servers (delivered with 2008.3). Everyone was pumped up about the new offerings, especially our Sales team.

And then someone asked the question, “How do we limit these features to folks on the new release?”

Um, new license keys?

Well, new license keys are one way to do it, but they really aren't a great solution. You see, we issue keys per feature and per product. In the simplest case, that means at least 2 keys per order. For users who leverage our full platform, that number could increase up to 6 or even 9 keys per order. Now, consider that someone is supposed to deploy 6 or 9 keys to 20-30 members of their organization. That's a real problem for a company like WebWorks who want to fit in and do well in the Enterprise market. And its no fun for small shops either.

So what to do about it.

First, we realized that we couldn't tackle the issue of creating a new licensing infrastructure right away. We had product to ship. We also knew we couldn't ignore the issue. Our solution was to begin issuing expiring license keys. Not because we thought it would be fun for customers and our staff. But because we really thought we would have this problem licked early on. Heck, we figured we have our new licensing technology implemented in the 2008.3 release. 2008.4 at the latest.

Things didn't quite pan out as we expected. What's that phrase? “The best-laid plans of mice and men/often go awry.”

The most important thing I want every ePublisher user to know and understand is that they have purchased a perpetual license to the WebWorks ePublisher platform. We issued expiring keys with the expectation that we could roll out a new version of ePublisher with our new licensing technology and migrate existing 2008.* customers over to that new release. That new release will be 2009.1. In the meantime, 2008.1 keys expired on January 31, 2009.

What did we do about all those expiring 2008.1 keys?

We began by identifying all customers who were last issued 2008.1 license keys and no others. Those customers received new keys prior to the January 31, 2009 deadline. Customers who had received 2008.1 keys yet were entitled to later releases were contacted by phone and/or email to find out if they required updated 2008.1 keys. We did have a few “misses” in this group, due to Spam filters, etc. Customer Service has been following up with effected users who require assistance. If you're still having trouble, please follow-up with Customer Service at your earliest convenience.

That brings you up to date on ePublisher licensing in 2008. Now what about ePublisher licensing in 2009?

The primary goal for ePublisher licensing in 2009 is to reduce both customer efforts and internal efforts related to key management. A secondary goal is to increase deployment flexibility by providing customers with a single key which can be used to enable or disable new features over time. And the third goal is to enable more flexible pricing options for the ePublisher platform.

We believe we can deliver on these goals in 2009. And we won't have to sacrifice customer privacy or convenience to do it. We want these changes to result in a “Win-Win” experience for everyone.

So what do you think?

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