Floating License


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What is a floating license? – Understanding The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Floating Licenses

As a software vendor, it's essential to understand software licensing models as part of your software license management and software monetization strategy. Protect your software products and services against unauthorized use and piracy with the right license, as well as influencing how your customers experience your software from the moment of purchase.

A floating software license is a type of software licensing model that many vendors consider.

What is a floating license?

A floating license (also known as a concurrent license) grants an organization a set number of 'seats', meaning a certain number of devices or users can access the software application and data at any given time. If all the licenses are in use, an employee must wait for a floating license to become available before being granted access. Similarly, a floating license might also grant access for an unlimited number of employees but place a limit on how many can use the software simultaneously (in 'floating use').

A floating license works by storing a specific number of licenses for a client on a central server. When a client user needs to run the software, they place a license request with the floating license server. If a license is available, the server gives the user immediate access to the software application. When they have finished using the software, the floating license is again stored on the server to await the next user request. If a user requests a license when they are all in use, they have to wait for another license to become available.

What are the advantages of floating licenses?

Floating licenses are particularly useful for organizations that require their employees to have access to software, but not all at once, reducing the overall cost. For instance, staff may work floating shift patterns, across time zones, or only need access to the software for a few minutes a day. By limiting access to only those who need it, an enterprise can save money on the cost of software licenses.

Other advantages include:

  • The flexibility to grant an unlimited number of users access to the software data from anywhere, providing simultaneous use doesn't exceed the agreed number of licenses
  • The enterprise can get as many license user accounts as it likes, reducing the time and effort normally required to close old accounts and onboard new starters
  • Licenses can be accessed from anywhere, across multiple devices and locations
  • Significant cost savings, as an organization with 30 employees but only needing a small number of concurrent users (say, five) only has to get five floating licenses instead of 30

What are the disadvantages of floating licenses?

A potential disadvantage to floating licenses is capacity at peak times. If a company with 30 employees needs to increase access to a piece of software beyond the number of existing floating licenses, there may be disruption and a delay while new licenses are purchased and deployed to meet changing needs.

Additionally, security concerns may come into play as licenses are shared between multiple users. However, suppliers often provide separate authentication and access for users with the same license, but caps may apply.

Standalone licenses and other types of software licensing

Floating licenses differ from standalone licenses in how standalone licenses provide access to only specific users. Even if the specified user isn't using the software licensed to them, no other user can get that license to gain access.

Standalone licenses may suit enterprises where all employees need constant and consistent license access to the software, or where the organization needs to be able to vary levels of access to different employees. Where software isn't subject to heavy use, floating licenses offer greater flexibility as well as potential cost savings to management.

Watch on-demand: 
The R&D Dilemma: Build or Buy Systems for Entitlement, Licenses and Usage Management