Flexera Software has released a new version of FlexNet Producer Suite for High-Tech Manufacturers with enhanced versions of FlexNet Embedded and FlexNet Operations.

According to a statement from the company, the new suite provides an “end-to-end solution enabling [high-tech device manufacturers] to monetize and manage their products more rapidly and effectively throughout the product life cycle.”

Steve Schmidt, vice president of product management at Flexera, said that the suite allows enterprise developers to “more efficiently control the features associated with software on devices,” allowing businesses to provide free trial periods, add-ons and additional upgrades to software already purchased and installed on devices through using the FlexNet Embedded program.

The other component of the release, FlexNet Operations, automates the licensing process at one centralized location so that it can “generate base product licenses, activate and de-activate devices, and support add-on devices, [device] returns or [upgrades],” said the company.
Duncan Jones, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that allowing high-tech manufacturers to offer these licenses, free trials and add-ons to end users with a simplified, central location will ultimately increase the customer base by relieving the frustrations of users who do not like to renew multiple licenses, or wait for software verifications of licenses on their devices.

“The pay-as-you-go model allows companies to bring users in with a small fee and then allows them to use certain features for additional pay-per-use amounts,” Jones said. He added that this is often hard for manufacturers to manage, which leads to the use of “freemium” services.

“This is along the models of a ‘freemium’ software or service, like LinkedIn, Gmail and TripIt, [which] allow you to sign up at little or no cost, and then if you want to access certain features…you need to pay per feature, use or enter into a contract. Freemium products are successful, provided [end users] have an option to move to a cheaper contract method.”

Schmidt said the software in the new FlexNet Suite also allows high-tech manufacturers to protect their intellectual property by managing licenses in different geographic locations.

The customer is given the option to determine how many licenses he or she needs on a given basis, and is also given the option to change that at any point in the lifetime of the product, a feature Schmidt said will be very helpful in networking equipment or equipment with a limited number of uses allowed.

“Medical companies have certain devices, such as MRI/CAT scan equipment, where they need to control the amount of times they are used due to regulations or codes,” Schmidt said. He explained that the embedded portion of the FlexNet Suite would be able to record how many times that specific device was used in order to keep a record for that company.

Additionally data is gathered and recorded to assist with support issues; for example, should an end user require support for a device, the company will have access to the exact components based on the data collected by the FlexNet Suite.