Economic conditions are causing organisations to take a closer look at how they consume technology. Procurement budgets are more tightly controlled during an economic downturn, with organisations looking to reduce capital expenses, such as upfront licensing fees per user and per application.
The poor economy is also leaving many organisations resource-strapped at the human level, forcing many to ask staff to take on new responsibilities. This is leading to the distinction between roles being blurred, with employees needing to learn new technologies and take on responsibilities that were previously assigned to another role in the organisation. In many cases, they will need access to a greater number of software applications than previously to reflect their expanded role in the organisation.
As an example, in the world of software application development and testing, there are a wide range of roles involved in the various stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), ranging from application developers and programmers, to testers and administrators. Because the range of processes involved in the SDLC is so vast, there is a veritable smorgasbord of tools available, each designed for a specific stage in the lifecycle. Many of these tools are fairly specialised, meaning that they are infrequently used. For many organisations, it is even harder in today's economic climate to justify the purchase of relatively expensive software products for highly specific tasks.
The blurring of roles that is occurring and the wide range of software tools that are required in the SDLC makes purchasing all the tools that are required, whether frequently or not, an expensive option. Embarcadero Technologies, a provider of tools for application developers and database professionals, currently offers 18 main applications, many of them in different versions, as well as platform-specific applications, such as for Oracle or SQL databases. Purchasing a licence for each for every user that needs to use them, whether daily or once per year, will see costs mounting quickly.
All that is changing. Today, Embarcadero announced that is unveiling a new pricing structure for its products. Instead of requiring that each product is licensed separately, Embarcadero has bundled all of its tools into one toolbox through its new All-Access membership service. For this service, it has developed a four-tier system of pricing, ranging from a subscription for one named user and workstation, to a network concurrent subscription service, providing pooled licences for multiple users. In the latter scenario, shared licences are managed by the licence server and can be checked out on demand by downloading the application online, and then checked back in when no longer in use. Not only does this simplify its pricing structure considerably, but the very competitive price level means that the full range of tools are now available at the fraction of the cost of buying each individually—although that is still an option for those that wish.
This is something very similar to an initiative undertaken in October 2008 by Ounce Labs, a vendor of source code analysis technologies. According to Gary Jackson, chief executive of Ounce Labs, the rationale behind the changes to its pricing model was to provide an easier way for organisations of all sizes to be able to perform application security scanning, regardless of size of company or the project that they are undertaking.
Rather than the old "Chinese menu" of pricing options available under many traditional licensing schemes, four levels of pricing are provided giving access to all available tools, ranging from those intended for small companies operating from a single location to organisations with large geographically distributed operations. The annual subscriptions involved are for an unlimited number of users or product installations, including maintenance. For a large, geographically dispersed organisation, this means that application development can "follow the sun", without licences having to be purchased for resources in each region.
According to Jackson, the new model has received a very favourable reception from existing customers and prospects alike as it provides an easier entry point at a lower price, even for large organisations, and has led to some customers being able to undertake projects that would otherwise have been put on hold, or even shelved for budgetary reasons.
Even though the recession will, one day, come to an end, we have entered a new era of austerity. As organisations look to control costs, greater scrutiny is being made of all investments and technology is no exception. This is being seen in the high levels of growth for applications delivered on demand as software as a service, for which a subscription is paid instead of an upfront licence fee. The new pricing models being offered by Embarcadero and Ounce Labs cater to these needs and will provide customers with the flexibility and simplicity of pricing that today's business conditions demand.