Blog Entry

Sep 24
2012 

From Generation to Generation, The Dilemma of Build vs. Buy Endures

The build versus buy licensing dilemma is the oldest debate in the industry.  After all, managing the licensing of your software is an important aspect of any commercial application, but it is not the core product you are selling.

The build vs. buy debate centers around the balance between providing the features and functionality your customers want in your software, with your need to protect access to your software through licensing systems.  Developers approach this strategically and smartly, and prefer to not reinvent the wheel, utilizing libraries, previously written code, and third party services to provide the license scaffolding around the software solution.

In a typical build scenario, developers often put into place a very simplistic authorization system, for example, “yes” or “no” across the entire application.   They may even spend an inordinate amount of time implementing this authorization system to the detriment of the overall application’s launch schedule.

What’s wrong with the build approach?  More often than not, this is a good introductory option, but over time as your application grows and business needs evolve, the requirements of the licensing system will inevitably change.  New features are released, customer needs change, and businesses grow.  While it may work today to give all authenticated users access to all features, tomorrow you may want to have a variety of user levels and make certain features available to some but not others.  Adding new functionality to an in-house solution will take time, energy, and resources as the complexity of your software increases.  If your organization is able to provide software development upgrades, on-time and under budget all the while maintaining your in-house licensing system effectively, you are one of the lucky ones.

In a buy approach, utilizing a third party service with a simple API, like SafeNet’s Sentinel Cloud, alleviates the pain of having to develop an in-house licensing infrastructure.  It also can speed up the development process getting your software to market sooner.  As your application changes over time, your licensing requirements will inevitably change.  Instead of having your developers worry about implementing licensing changes, they can focus on making your software better.  The service provider you choose will bring the proven experience in licensing systems that most software companies are lacking.  They will provide you with a feature-rich and flexible licensing infrastructure that will allow you to easily apply the licensing models you want as your software matures.

Have you moved to a buy scenario after starting out with an in-house solution?  Share your lessons learned with our community.