Perpetual or subscription licensing for Autodesk? You can choose – for now. [UPDATED]

 In Software, Volume Licensing

[Editor’s note: This post, originally published on July 9, has been updated.]

It’s the year of choice for Autodesk customers — organizations can either license Autodesk software through perpetual rights or Autodesk’s latest subscription licensing model, called Desktop Subscription. But not for long — the clock is ticking.

After Jan. 31, 2016, new seats of Autodesk individual products, such as AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, and dozens of other programs, will only be available through a term-based license plan called Desktop Subscription. Customers currently licensed through perpetual agreements will see no change in their contract, but after Jan. 31, 2016, they’ll no longer have the option of purchasing new perpetual licenses.


And, after July 31, 2016, Autodesk will end all new purchases of perpetual seat licenses of design and creation suites, such as Building Design Suite, Product Design Suite, and Infrastructure Design Suite.

So what does this deadline mean for existing customers? Is there an advantage to one option over the other? Should you change now or early next year? Here are a few considerations to ponder after you circle Jan. 31, 2016 on your calendar.

Two choices, similar benefits

Choice 1: Transition to Desktop Subscription now for new seat purchases

Software licensed through Desktop Subscription includes frequent updates and upgrades direct from Autodesk throughout the life of the contract for a lower upfront cost than a perpetual license. Desktop Subscription offers flexible purchasing options, including 3-year and 1-year plans. In addition, Desktop Subscription is a valuable option for customers that want to use their software anywhere since licenses are tied not to a device, but to a login. Users can log in to Autodesk software anywhere and travel with it outside the country it was purchased.

Choice 2: Continue purchasing perpetual licenses while you can

Customers can continue purchasing perpetual licenses until Jan. 31, 2016, and can add maintenance subscription to maximize the long-term value of their software commitments. Customers that opt for a multi-year maintenance contract can benefit by locking in the price for up to three years.

Organizations that choose to renew their maintenance contract with their perpetual licensing will be protecting their investment and can still use their software. Maintenance contracts enable customers to always receive the latest release of software and support, and use up to three previous versions so organizations can run Autodesk software on older networks and operating systems.

Renew your existing maintenance contract on time

Customers can still renew existing maintenance subscriptions after Jan. 31, 2016 as long as they do so on time. If your renewal is due on Feb. 1, 2016, for example, and your purchase order is submitted on that date – or any time before that – that’s fine, and the full benefits of maintenance subscription and the perpetual license are maintained.

However, if your purchase order is submitted after your renewal due date, you’ll need to buy a new Desktop Subscription seat to restore the full benefits. Late renewal is no longer an option.

Take note: It doesn’t matter when the renewal date is. Customers will not be able to renew their maintenance contract after the renewal date and retain their full functionality without a new Desktop Subscription seat purchase.

It should be noted that organizations can still add new seats to existing agreements, unifying these new seats under one licensing agreement, until Jan. 31, 2016. But be aware that seats with maintenance agreements licensed through the perpetual model cannot be combined with Desktop Subscription seats into a single contract.

Start a license review today

That Jan. 31, 2016 deadline seems far away now, and it’s true that customers have a few months to decide how they want to be licensed. However, software licensing is complex and both options have advantages. Autodesk customers should begin mapping out a plan for their licensing now to gain clarity into their commitments.

Organizations should first determine their current licensing versus future needs, and draft those considerations into an actionable plan. But get out of the “business as usual” mentality: Take a step back from buying licenses as you always have, and determine whether one licensing option is advantageous to the other for your organization’s needs.

IT professionals should research the details of each license renewal process because failure to account for specific renewal policies or rules can result in additional license or maintenance agreement purchases. If that sounds like too much for an IT department, consider working with a third-party expert. This outside partner can oversee license contracts and renewals, as well as offer up recommendations on the organization’s long-term vision and planning.

Organizations that fail to plan ahead will likely be left with a patchwork licensing plan that will probably need to be re-evaluated after a year or two. Plus, organizations that wait until the last minute to renew licensing may be stuck with higher costs because of unexpected seat purchases. But organizations can avoid this heavy lifting by partnering with a third party expert that can assist in a long-term roadmap for licensing and asset management.

Get help before making the choice

Organizations have until Jan. 31, 2016 to make a choice between Autodesk’s Desktop Subscription and perpetual licensing for its point products. Each licensing plan has its own benefits, so organizations should conduct a self-examination of current assets and future needs. By working with a third-party licensing or asset expert, organizations can gain a better understanding of their current environment, and perfectly align licensing with today’s requirements and tomorrow’s expectations. This third party expert should be able to assist in multiyear planning while understanding an organization’s present needs and cost considerations.

Contact your SHI Account Executive today to start the conversation about your current Autodesk licensing, and how to develop a plan for your future Autodesk licensing choices.

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