How Will You Buy CAD Software in 2016?9 Feb, 2015 By: Robert Green
Autodesk and other software developers are moving toward subscription-only access to software. The time to plan for the transition is now!
What About New Users?
Will your company be growing? Do you already need more licenses? If so, you need to consider whether to obtain more perpetual licenses within the next year before this option disappears.
Looking at the amortized costs above, you can see that if your company continually buys new software licenses, it is most likely smart to acquire the needed licenses before February 1, 2016, to lock in the downstream maintenance program's lower annual fees. If, however, company growth is not certain or any new software needs would be temporary, then a Desktop Subscription — perhaps even the monthly plan — makes more sense.
How should you proceed, then? Only you can decide this based on your best business forecasts. Basing decisions on business forecasts is not a new thing, but what has changed with respect to Autodesk software is that now you only have a year to make decisions that will affect your company for a long time.
Timing Your Move
Currently, letting an Autodesk maintenance agreement expire means facing stiff upgrade costs to reinstate the license at a later date. But under the new licensing plans, you'll be able to sign up for Desktop Subscription any time without any such "penalty." This presents new money-saving options for some companies.
For example, consider what would happen if you simply let your perpetual license plus Maintenance Subscription agreement expire. The annual cost for this software will revert to zero until you need to upgrade, and you'll pay nothing extra when it's time to make that move (and sign on to Desktop Subscription).
Another scenario to consider would be if you own a perpetual license (without maintenance) of a standalone desktop product — say, AutoCAD — but plan to upgrade to an Autodesk software suite later. This practice, often called a cross-grade, has been advantageous in the past because Autodesk has offered financial incentives to their perpetual license/maintenance holders to do so. But because perpetual licenses for many standalone products are going away, there's no guarantee that cross-grading will be available in the future. So, in this scenario you could let the perpetual license expire, and then run the software for two more years before moving to a Desktop Subscription for the product suite.
Yet another option to consider would be letting a license lapse and replacing it with a Desktop Subscription to a lower-end product. For example, if you have casual AutoCAD users that could get by with AutoCAD LT, you could allow the AutoCAD perpetual licenses to lapse and replace them — eventually — with AutoCAD LT Desktop Subscriptions. In this case, the annual maintenance cost for AutoCAD ($545) would be eliminated in the short term then replaced with the annual rental cost ($360) when it comes time to upgrade the expired AutoCAD tool.
These are just a few of the what-if scenarios that could surface as licensing policies change and you consider all the possible ways you could proceed.
I hope this advice will help you plan for new software licensing policies — whether you use Autodesk software or others — and help you get started forecasting your company's future software costs. As licensing policies change, one thing stays the same: It always pays to examine your options closely to get the most for your money. Until next time.
Readers: What do you think of Autodesk's recent announcement, and how do you view the general move toward eliminating perpetual software licenses? Please e-mail me your thoughts at email@example.com if you'd like to share.