Since the release of Version 4.0 in 2012, both Perpetual and Subscription licensing have been available for all VideoFOCUS software products. As of Version 6.0, Salient Sciences additionally offers USB Dongle Activation for Subscription licences, allowing these date-limited licenses to be shared across multiple machines and operated without an internet connection in the same way as dongle-based Perpetual licenses – an important consideration for workstations housing sensitive data.
When a Subscription license is purchased with USB Dongle Activation specified, a special RTC dongle having its own real-time clock (or “RTC”) on board will be supplied at no additional cost. This independent RTC enables VideoFOCUS to reliably manage the subscription term, even when an internet connection to a trusted time server (e.g. nist.gov) is not available. For Perpetual licenses, which are not date-limited, a non-RTC dongle will be supplied. Pictures of the two dongle types are provided below.
Follows is a more detailed explanation of Perpetual vs. Subscription licensing:
With Perpetual licensing, the customer “owns and maintains” the software license. Analogous to buying a car, there is a significant initial investment to purchase the license, which includes an initial maintenance contract providing entitlement to all new versions that are released during that first year of ownership; thereafter, the customer can purchase a new maintenance contract each year to continue entitlement to the latest versions.
For most of our customers, Perpetual licensing is preferred, because they never have to worry about a critical forensics tool ceasing to work for them if budget is not immediately available to renew the maintenance. Even if the maintenance should expire at some point without renewal, the software continues to function indefinitely at the most recent version that was allowed under the last expired contract (also called the “last entitled version”).
But for smaller customer agencies who may find it prohibitive to absorb the larger initial cost for the Perpetual license, the “rent and maintain” model of the Subscription license may be more attractive. Like leasing a car, the initial cost is more modest – essentially, you pay for the first year’s maintenance contract and you can start using the software immediately with full entitlement to all updates while the contract remains active.
The main potential downside of Subscription licensing is that if the maintenance is ever allowed to expire without renewal, the software will simply stop working – possibly making for a bad day if the maintenance happens to expire in the middle of a critical case!
The other potential downside of Subscription licensing is the need for the software to have a trusted clock source to reliably enforce the subscription term. Traditionally, our Subscriptions have used Online Activation only, meaning that the computer had to have an internet connection or the software would not run – again, potentially a big problem for machines having sensitive data. However, this limitation is completely overcome in Version 6.0 with the USB Dongle Activation via the RTC dongle.
To minimize any disruptions of Subscription licenses, and also to ensure that Perpetual license customers continue their entitlement to all the latest versions of VideoFOCUS, Salient Sciences starts e-mailing maintenance renewal pro forma invoices within 3-6 months of the maintenance expiring, which hopefully allows time to purchase the renewal and avoid any issues. Where necessary and appropriate, temporary maintenance extensions can be quickly granted by Salient Sciences sales (just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org) to keep VideoFOCUS running at the latest versions while the maintenance renewal purchase is being processed.