There has been a lot of dialog about how cloud computing is changing our industry, yet at the core one could easily make the argument that the trend we are witnessing is just another entry in the long history of attempting to reach one, simple goal: reaching your target audience in the most accessible fashion. For many software publishers, the target audience is either the CIO or somebody who reports into that office, and the confusion and consternation we are watching unfold with the emergence of cloud computing is the classic case of trying to predict reactions to change.
However, as IDC analyst Amy Konary recently wrote , the issues really haven’t changed all that much. While her article was really directed at private cloud implementations, the implications for software publishers are really the same as they were in the antiquated pre-cloud era. How do you bring your offering to market in the cloud? What are the “right” ways to sell it? Do you have a platform and offering that allows you to a) scale, b) manage and c) adapt? Moreover, within the public cloud the scalability responsibility also shifts somewhat. The opportunities available to a startup publisher in the cloud vs. an established player begin to look startlingly similar as Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels recently mentioned at Cloud Connect. To use one example, he mentioned that some services which would have historically only been available to large enterprises in an on premise world are now available to company’s of all size in the cloud, such as encryption and security . An inability to scale can no longer be attributed to lack of resources when you are in the cloud, but must now come down to more fundamental questions of ensuring that your offering can secure appropriate monetization through its own value.
BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) offer tremendous growth upside for many companies. Independent Software Vendors are no different. This fact leads to familiar conversations happening inside many software companies. “We need to enter the high growth markets. However, we have no licensing or our current licensing is not designed to focus upon piracy. We don’t want to invest all that effort only to end up giving our product away”.
I don’t know if they teach this in every MBA program, but I am sure you have heard that every business case can be boiled down to a certain number of “P”s. It is just a question of how many…some have 4 P’s, some have 5; but in this world of Twitter and brevity, I am going to go with the three that matter most when you think about creating licensing approaches for software: Piracy, Portability, and Profitability.