Cetrus Blog

How Moving License Keys to the Cloud Changes Use Analysis

Posted by Erik Hoogerhuis on Aug 9, 2017 5:10:08 PM


In a previous post we discussed some of the recent trends occurring in the Asset Management space, including applications in the cloud (here). This week, we’ll share our thoughts on the implications of cloud-based license keys on use analysis.

Quick Review:

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

  • Desktops – Via asset management tools. Is the software installed on the desktop and when was it last used? Asset Management tools track assets.
  • Servers – Via log file readers. When was the license checked out and when was it checked in? The license server prevents more than the entitled number of licenses being deployed at any one time.

Neither approach identifies real use, but they do meet the needs of asset and compliance management. In addition, neither approach can identify granular license use or easily add additional attribute information for contextual use reporting (like which project the application was used for).

Cloud-Based License Keys – Why it’s Different

The License Key Analysis Problem:

Enterprises want to make applications available to users wherever they are, on whatever devices the users have, and whenever they are needed. Application providers want to maximize access to their applications, while limiting access to only paid-for entitlements.

Each on premise license key delivery system severely restricts the number and type of applications to the licenses it manages. In addition, the license key delivery method dictates what kind of use or attribute information is available for reporting. Delivering license keys requires the customer to have a metering/monitoring infrastructure: license servers, or an auditing mechanism to validate the number of desktop keys does not exceed the entitled quantity.

The Cloud:

An application provider delivering keys via the cloud is freed from these infrastructure restrictions. It doesn’t need to distribute license files or keys. The provider can now monitor and meter licenses via logins. A vendor can choose to license access to the application via concurrent logins, to specific logins, or to allow additional licenses be made available at a per hour use. 

Users benefit both when the license keys are in the cloud and when the application itself is located in the cloud. With the keys in the cloud, users gain the flexibility of accessing the application from any machine on which the application is installed.  As stated by Kylee Swenson in her article about the benefits of applications in the cloud, “…there is typically little-to-no installation required to use the cloud, no updates needed, and fewer hardware incompatibilities. That means you get up and running quickly and work more efficiently.” (We will go over all of the benefits for the user in a later post.)

Curious what a cloud-based application looks like? Just check out Autodesk Cloud Rendering (click here), it’s pretty amazing. Autodesk calls their software on the cloud “flexible, affordable, and secure”, emphasizing just how user friendly and beneficial a move to the cloud can be.

Use Analysis:

Customers need to understand their application use to plan for the future, but cloud-based license keys (or SaaS applications) make this analysis more difficult, if not impossible, for desktop or log file monitoring approaches. 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 is bypassed, thus eliminating the ability for log files to report license use. 

So how does an enterprise get use information for cloud-delivered license keys? Will the application provider create use reports on who the user was, when was the application used, on what machine, if the license was actively used or just checked out, etc.?  Will SaaS providers provide these reports? And even if all the vendors were to provide use reports, how does the enterprise consolidate and normalize this data for aggregate and comparative reporting?

The Analytics Solution:

We believe the simplest and easiest (and perhaps only) way to solve this data collection problem is to track use at the point of activity – on whatever device the application or application interface is running. This approach provides a number of benefits including:

  • All applications can be monitored independent of license delivery type
  • Consolidated data into a common repository
  • Tracking uses across multiple devices
  • Consistent cross application use data
  • Consistent user attribute information
  • Simpler use monitoring infrastructure
  • Enterprise use data view and analysis

The transition to device-centric use monitoring will take some time, but the many benefits and the ability to monitor cloud-based applications are too compelling for companies to ignore. 

Cetrus Process Meter™ delivers Windows desktop device use monitoring today.

Check out our 30 Day Free Trial here!

Topics: Trending; Analytics



“Cloud-Based CAD Software.” Autodesk, Autodesk,

Swenson, Kylee. “6 Reasons Why You Should Leap into the Cloud.” Redshift, Autodesk, 31 July 2017,

Topics: Analytics, Trending