Wednesday, January 26, 2022
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Software Licensing Secrets for Indian Law Enforcement Agencies

By Samir Datt: Faced with a thousand decisions and administrative tasks day in and out, senior police officers are a very busy lot. So decisions such as what tools to buy and what kind of licensing to go for seems mundane and is usually delegated to a junior officer who may or may not have an idea of the big picture.

However, the one critical decision that Indian police officers need to spend a few minutes on is whether to buy tools with a perpetual license or a term license. This can have a major impact on unit readiness and response capability and should form an important part of the decision making process.

Before we proceed further let me explain the difference between the two. A perpetual licence is the equivalent of “buying” a product. Basically the investment made, entitles you to owning the product in perpetuity as long as it is paid for in full. In the “term” licence model the similarity can be drawn to a rental model. Basically the payment made is for the purposes of renting the usage of the tool for the period that it has been paid for. So if you purchase a “term” licence product for a period of 1 year, the product will STOP functioning once the “term” period is over and a new investment for the purchase of another term (Eg one year) will need to be made in the event the product is required.

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Recently a publicly listed Mobile Forensics company switched to a Term based licensing model for their very popular previously perpetual product. From a vendor perspective this is a wonderful strategy as it brings in revenue predictability and dramatically increases product renewal revenues.

I began to receive a number of calls from senior police officers who wished to understand how this would impact their organizations purchase plans as well as impact their investigation capabilities. They were not sure if this term licensing system would have a positive impact.

My answer – It depends!

I have made a small table to summarise the differences to make the initial purchase under these two licensing models easier to understand.

As you can see, once purchased a perpetual licence becomes part of the police units inventory and the police force can continue to use it in perpetuity for the life of the tool upto the paid for updated level. The tool does not stop functioning and continues to operate to the same capacity as at the time of purchase. However, very importantly, in the case of a term licence once the term expires the tool stops functioning.

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This may not be a problem unless a budget for renewal is NOT available or is delayed leading to a delay in payment to the tool provider which may result in an interruption of service which may lead to disruption of policing capabilities. Those are consequences that will cause Police Forces to rethink their licence strategies or ensure that their budget for purchase of term licences is readily available whenever the licence expires.

So my short answer – if you are confident that you will get your software renewal budgets consistently on time go for tools that come with term licensing.

However if getting budgets consistently on time for software renewals is something that cannot be controlled then “Perpetual” licences are what you need. Select only those tools that come with a perpetual licence option.

This will prevent down time and will not affect the functioning of your crime Investigation capabilities.

The Writer: Samir Datt is Founder and CEO, ForensicsGuru

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