Cetrus Blog

How moving license keys to the cloud changes usage analysis

Posted by Erik Hoogerhuis on Oct 23, 2015 7:51:33 PM

In our last posting, we discussed some of the kinds of information of interest to stakeholders in the Asset Management space. This week, we’ll share our thoughts on the implications of cloud-based license keys on usage analysis.

In case you haven’t read our previous posts, here’s a quick refresher on application usage analysis.  Application usage requires organizations to be able to gather data on usage (such as what application, what user, what device, how long active/ idle), and license attributes (what kind of license, where did the key come from, is the application part of a suite, etc.). Organizations essentially monitor desktop usage one of two ways today: 

  • Desktops - is the software installed on the desktop and what day was it last used
  • Servers - by licensing a maximum number of licenses that can be checked out or “concurrently” used. This is really metering, not monitoring, but you can get an estimate of usage by getting log file information of when a license was checked out and in.

Neither approach identifies real usage but they do meet the needs of asset management and compliance to identify license status. Adding attribute information typically requires other tools and a lot of elbow grease.

Enterprises want to make applications available to users wherever they are, and on whatever devices the users have. Distributing license keys from any mechanism other than the cloud causes operational issues. The license key delivery method infrastructure dictates what kind of usage or license attribute information is available for reporting. An application provider delivering keys from the cloud is freed from these restrictions. The application provider can now monitor and meter the number of licenses because they deploy user logins vs license keys. For instance, simultaneous logins with the same credentials are easier to track than simultaneous usage of two copies of an application using the same license key.

Customers still have the problem of understanding usage, and cloud-based license keys make this problem more difficult with current approaches. Desktop software can be installed on many more machines, including machines not owned or managed by the corporation. The metering infrastructure for server-based license keys can go away, thus eliminating log files to estimate license usage. 

So how does an enterprise get usage information for cloud-delivered license keys (or for SaaS applications) – will every cloud application provider generate the same kind of usage reports? And even if they did, how does the enterprise consolidate this usage for aggregate and comparative reporting?

We believe the simplest and easiest way to solve this problem is to track usage at the point of activity – on whatever device the application or application interface is running. This approach provides a number of benefits:

  • The organization can consolidate usage information into a central database

  • Usage can be tracked by user regardless of number of devices

  • Usage for different application types is consistently monitored and reported


    User attribute information is consistent and available for multiple applications


    Usage is monitored consistently, independent of license infrastructure


    Organizations can simplify their usage monitoring infrastructure

The transition to device centric usage monitoring will take some time, but the benefits of data consistency, lower cost of data acquisition, and ability to add context to the data are too compelling. 

Cetrus delivers device centric usage monitoring today.

 Click here to request a free trial account 

Come back next week as we’ll start a series of postings on Autodesk Application Monitoring and License usage issues and how Cetrus’ Process Meter uniquely addresses these needs.

Topics: Insider