Blog Entry

Nov 24
2015 

Trimble’s Licensing Evolution

In the 1973 movie Magnum Force, maverick cop Dirty Harry famously said that “A man’s got to know his limitations”. In business, knowing how and where to invest your resources can be the difference between success and failure. Indeed, overextending yourself when you should be focusing on your core competencies can have disastrous consequences for your bottom line if left unchecked.

At Trimble, we believe that knowing your limitations doesn’t mean you have to be bound by them. On the contrary, we aim to defy limitations by partnering with specialists in different fields and leveraging our combined strengths.

Making precision GPS tools for use in surveying, construction, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety, and mapping – that’s our bread and butter. When it comes to our software licensing and entitlement management needs, we have the good sense to defer to Gemalto’s expertise.

It’s complicated

Like most large organizations, Trimble relies on many software applications to get the job done, be it creating a design file or delivering it to the machine. Our current license management system has grown too complex to meet our customers’ needs, demanding a more sophisticated solution – hence our decision to move over to Sentinel.

We have implemented Sentinel LDK with EMS for a number of reasons; namely because it helps us provision licenses for software delivered on-premise and via other means of connectivity, it offers both standalone license ordering and auto-licensing options, and it is simple enough for machine operators to obtain the production data they require. Being able to support such a broad range of license and connectivity options is a definite plus as it allows us to continuously evolve alongside new technology.

Sizing up the challenge

Trimble has contracts with some very large manufacturers of construction equipment. We help monitor mining trucks in the Alberta Oil Sands. We help monitor machines of gargantuan proportions like the bucket wheel loader; a 315-foot-tall monster weighing 27 million pounds. We recently acquired Montreal-based crane company LSI, which builds load monitoring systems for colossal cranes. To give you an idea of the scale of these machines, a worker must climb up buildings and support structures just to get to the crane cage. Bear that in mind the next time you find yourself complaining about your commute to work!

It’s a jungle out there

I’ve spoken about some of the practical challenges facing hardware manufacturers when it comes to delivering licenses on large-scale machines. However, size isn’t everything. With machines located in hostile environments, the challenge becomes less about convenience and more about survival. For example, managing a hydraulic generator precariously stationed in an alligator-infested part of the Amazon. Can you imagine sending someone out there to insert a thumb drive with a license on it?! The simple answer is you wouldn’t; you’d opt instead for an over-the-air (OTA) installation to save you from having to deliver those codes manually.

Besides the practical implications, OTA is a much more cost-effective delivery method in the long run as it eliminates the need for human intervention. The initial outlay for a typical homegrown system, however, can set you back millions of dollars, once you’ve factored in the code generator and hosting or OTA delivery.

Streamlining the back office

At present, we’re running 20-30 different licensing systems, each with multiple iterations. As you can imagine, it’s not an ideal situation having everyone using different versions, so we need to find a more efficient way of provisioning licenses.

By introducing an entitlement management system like Sentinel EMS to our back office, we are able to bring those disparate systems under control. Not only does it allow us to generate, report on, and manage user entitlements from a centralized platform, it also automates every aspect of our proactive marketing and sales operations lifecycle, ensuring greater accuracy and reduced costs.

In the last 15 years, Trimble has purchased around 200 companies, and it has its sights set on many more. To avoid the inevitable teething pains that come with such acquisitions, we find it better to integrate the new systems into Sentinel EMS first and worry about ERP integration later.

Inspiring confidence

Although our past experiences with theft have been limited to image duplication of virtual machines, activation codes being cracked, and – in our pre-Gemalto days – protection key duplication, these unsavory practices have ended up costing us millions of dollars. We’re confident that Sentinel solutions are fully capable of protecting us from such acts of theft, now and in the future.

At Trimble, we consider our licensing system to be a unique proposition, so it’s important that we are able to promote it as such. Thanks to Sentinel solutions, we can go after large-scale construction projects like the Beijing national airport and the Riyadh subway, knowing that our tailored license delivery platforms are up to the task.

If you’ve ever tried to build a homegrown licensing system, you’ll know just how difficult a task it can be. Taking software licensing into your own (inexperienced) hands, as opposed to leaving it to the professionals, can be a risky move. Now that our subscription management platform supports close to half a million assets, the time is ripe for us to migrate to a structured, best-of-breed licensing solution, and Sentinel is the obvious choice.