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David DiMillo

Principal Consultant, Software Licensing Professional Services - SafeNet

Dave joined SafeNet in March 2010 where he now leads the company’s team of Software Licensing Consultants world-wide. As SafeNet’s Principal Consultant, Dave is responsible for guiding enterprise-level software vendors through the daunting challenge of fully integrating license enforcement into their businesses. Dave specializes in top-down methodologies that include helping vendors define their corporate licensing goals and philosophies, designing system architectures, as well as developing business process and technology requirements that serve the myriad of needs across organizations.

Dave has an unparalleled amount of experience designing, launching, and managing some of the industry’s most complex licensing systems that manage millions of installed software seats including software development tools and CAD/CAM solutions. Prior to joining SafeNet, Dave spent the previous 11 years leading the licensing strategy and implementation for the Rational software division of IBM.

Dave graduated with honors from the University of Maine with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

16 Posts

Feb 27
2013 

Software Protection: The Rules Have Changed

The software protection business has matured at a slow pace over the past decade. The industry has gotten better at developing improved customer experiences through more sophisticated web portals and web services, but ultimately the model’s foundation relies on license file transfer between the vendor and the end customer.

The improvements in the area of cleaner customer experiences through web services has allowed some vendors to minimize a fair amount of the friction this style of license enforcement has introduced into the traditional delivery and deployment model.

Sep 13
2012 

Give Peace a Chance with Abstraction Layers

As an engineering and product management team tasked with designing license enforcement into your products, you have many decisions around how your products will interact with the licensing code.  Here’s a proven technique that will help you control how licensing gets implemented across your product lines while making the product teams’ lives easier at the same time: build an abstraction layer.

Jul 31
2012 

SaaS Licensing: How To Handle Per-User Transfers

This question recently appeared on Quora, and I thought it would benefit our readers to hear the answer.

“What is standard practice for when companies want to “switch seats” in a SaaS licensing context? I run an early-stage SaaS company and we sell on a per-seat basis. Occasionally I’ll get a request to switch a seat from one user to another. Sometimes this is because someone left a company and in other cases it’s because a user isn’t very active and they want to switch to someone who will be more active. What is standard practice here for this? Obviously we’d prefer that a new seat license be purchased rather than transferring a license but we also want to try to be flexible given that we’re a start-up”

This question reaches outside of the SaaS domain and applies to many per-user or named-user license models in the traditional on-premise environments.

Mar 28
2012 

Do software vendors intentionally allow ways to bypass their enforcement mechanism?

This is a juicy question was posed on Quora (http://b.qr.ae/HmF392). I was intrigued by a couple of the responses and added my own.  Here is my view…

The answer is yes but mostly no. Confused?

Here’s how it usually works…

First, software vendors separate compliance strategy from piracy prevention because they are inherently different beasts. This can be done by placing their customers along a compliance continuum.  On the left you have customers who go to lengths to be compliant and will gladly pay for software they use regardless of whether the software has license enforcement or not. On the right you have users who intentionally use pirated software and wouldn’t pay for it if they couldn’t steal it. The vendor’s focus is clearly on the left end of the scale since this offers the largest revenue opportunity.  The right is often nothing more than noise.

When vendors introduce license enforcement, the most common philosophy (by far) is to consider the enforcement a tool that will help keep their honest customers doing the right thing and to facilitate creative licensing models. All software license enforcement tools have some level of vulnerability. However, the software market usually considers the higher-end commercial enforcement products more than adequate to cover ~90%+ of their continuum, working from left to right.

That 10% is essentially the topic of the original question posed in this post. The software vendor asks itself if it really cares about investing additional time and resources making the enforcement more air-tight to further prevent piracy by users who would never pay them.

All said, there is always a point of diminishing return and vendors choose to not care a whole lot about usage where they’d never see any revenue.

I agree with the premise that many companies would rather see users stealing their software than paying a competitor. However, applying the notion of the compliance continuum, the real money is typically on the left end of the scale with companies that wouldn’t use pirated software in the first place so the revenue in question is likely a fudge factor at best.

What do you think?

Feb 20
2012 

Building Your License Enforcement Business Case, Part 2

My last blog discussed building a business case for implementing a software license enforcement system.  A key component of the case should be a plan to minimize negative impact on the customer base. This article offers a handful of practices designed to help you ease your customer roll-out.  While not every practice can apply to all cases and to all business, each should provide some food for thought.

Nov 4
2011 

Building Your License Enforcement Business Case

This is a multi-part blog where we’ll look at the business case around a license enforcement system from many different angles.  This article will begin the discussion surrounding the initial business case for initiating a license enforcement project. Follow-on blogs will focus on measuring the return on the investment of a licensing system after implementation.

Sep 13
2011 

No Version? No Problem.

Does the following story sound familiar?

“Hello, it’s Steve in Product Management.”

“Hi Steve, it’s Ian in Sales.  I’m looking at the price book and there’s a different license part number for every version of the product. I see dozens of them.  My customer wants to use various versions of the product across teams.  Can I just put the latest version on the quote and tell them they can use the licenses with older versions too?”

“I’m not sure. You will have to ask Legal.”

“I need to get this quote out now. Why is it like this?”

“I’m not sure about that either. You’ll have to ask Operations.”

Including product versions as attributes of your license part numbers may seem like the obvious right thing to do.  In many cases it works perfectly well. But before going down that path, you should think through a few factors.

Aug 9
2011 

Show Me the Money! Revenue Recognition Best Practices (Part 2)

In my last blog entry (Show Me The Money, Part 1) we looked at a number of factors that play into software revenue recognition when a vendor (ISV) introduces electronic license enforcement into their product lines.  Part 1 focused on the principles and mechanics behind giving customers access to the software upon order execution so that the ISV may recognize revenue.   Part 1 concluded by bringing another key element into the revenue recognition equation: time.  Time can affect revenue recognition in a number of ways:

  • We have the time required by the customer to actually get their license keys after the ISVs claims to have given them “access” to the software.
  • We have the software’s ability to run by default without a license key for a temporary amount of time.  Does that count as “access”?
  • We have some ISVs selling perpetual entitlements but wanting or needing to deliver license keys that expire annually.  Does the customer really have access to what they bought?
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