Autodesk VP Explains Software Licensing Policy Changes9 Sep, 2015 By: Robert Green
CAD Manager Column: To gain more insight into Autodesk's switch to rental-based licensing, we sat down with Vice-President Andrew Anagnost.
RG: What would you say is the key advantage for customers in the new rental subscription model?
AA: The new model is much more flexible and offers a lower cost point of entry for the customer. The ability to rent an expensive rendering software application for just a few months would be a good example.
RG: Besides the reasons shown in the graphic, is there any other reason why Autodesk customers can expect better software as a result of this change?
AA: With the perpetual license policy, we only interact with the customer when they purchase a new license. With the new rental policy, the customer has the freedom to not renew every year, so we must interact with and listen to the customer more.
RG: What change will the CAD manager see moving forward, besides licensing terms?
AA: As we move forward, we will smooth out the process of software delivery and deployment to make the customer experience smoother for the CAD manager. We're not all the way there yet — but we are making progress towards that goal. We will also be introducing network-based rental licenses that will run on the same license manager as the perpetual licenses to simplify license administration.
RG: How do you feel this transition will go over after the initial uncertainty subsides?
AA: I believe in my heart of hearts that customers will love the new model when we prove the value to them.
Business Plans and License Transition
During the final portion of our discussion, I asked some specific questions about how the transition will affect Autodesk's dealer network and how licenses can be transitioned as perpetual licenses phase out over the next 9 months. Here are a few highlights:
RG: So this will be a big change for Autodesk, as well as your customers?
AA: Yes. I would point out this transition isn't trivial for us. There is pain associated with making this big a change in how we do business, for us and our partners.
RG: Speaking of your partners, how will this affect your dealer network?
AA: We're working with our partners to help them with the transition. We feel our reseller partners are key to delivering great service to our customers. I'd like to point out that nothing we're doing forces anybody to go to the cloud. Customers can still keep all their software and data on their own server infrastructure — only the licensing terms change.
RG: So if a customer has a perpetual license of AutoCAD on maintenance, can they cross-grade to a suite from February 1 to July 31 next year even though the AutoCAD perpetual license is no longer available?
AA: Yes, the customer can cross-grade from AutoCAD to a suite in that timeframe.
RG: Say a company has five perpetual licenses of AutoCAD on maintenance. Can those be converted to five networked perpetual licenses between now and February 1?
AA: Yes, all our current options are available until February 1, 2016.
RG: What is the pricing associated with the conversion?
AA: The general calculation is 25% of the AutoCAD price. In the U.S. and Canada, that would be $1,050 (25% of $4,195) for one license, or $5,250 for five licenses. (Author's note: This is a one time fee for conversion to network licenses.)
RG: Thank you very much for making yourself available for the interview, Andrew. I appreciate you directly addressing these important concerns.
AA: Robert, thanks. I know your readers are some of the most sensitive to these issues and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify what we're doing for our maintenance customers moving forward and what we're doing for new subscription customers. I hope we get a chance to talk more as you continue to get feedback.
Editor's Note: Mr. Anagnost has posted some additional answers in the comments section below this article; look for the user name "AA@Autodesk."
So it appears that the timeframe for dealing with the changes in Autodesk licensing policy are now a bit more urgent and will require more planning in your early 2016 budgeting process. I hope you find the information presented in this interview helpful as you consider your options.
What are your thoughts on the new timeframe and licensing policies from Autodesk? Send your thoughts to email@example.com if you'd like to share.