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How we license our products – Make sure your organisation is compliant

Posted at: 12:03 PM on 22 January 2010 by Muhimbi

LicenseAny organisation that deals with computer software, free or otherwise, must be aware of the License Agreement that comes with a software product. How many computers can the software be used on, by how many users and how long is the license valid are only some of the questions that need to be answered.

No time to read the whole post? Read this short but clear Knowledge Base article for details about how to determine the number of servers that need licensing.

We have invested quite some time in making our Software License Agreement readable for people without a legal background. However, it is difficult to cover all grounds using plain English.

This post attempts to explain the key elements of our Software Agreement in plain English. Note that this is only a summary and does not replace the actual License Agreement.

The following topics are discussed in this post:

 

Summary of available licenses

The following license types apply to our ‘on-premise’ products. An overview of subscription tiers for the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online / Office 365 can be found here.

We use a graded licensing system to match your budget and exact needs. The following license types are available: 

  • Free evaluation version: If the software is installed without a license then you are using the evaluation version. The software is fully functional without any time limits, but an evaluation message will be displayed on most screens, in the workflow history and in any generated document. You are not permitted to use the evaluation version in production environments. Support is provided using any of the means in the Support area on our site. 
     
  • Basic License: Starter edition for SharePoint farms consisting of a single combined WFE / App server.
     
  • Small Farm License: Covers a single SharePoint farm consisting of up to 3 servers with support for load balancing and redundancy.
     
  • Enterprise License: Covers an unlimited number of SharePoint Farms, Servers and Users in a single legal entity.  
     
  • OEM License: If you wish to bundle our software with your own solution and redistribute it to 3rd parties then you require an OEM License. Please read the details in the Software License Agreement for more information. Note that you are not allowed to use our Products to develop derived works that offer similar functionality as the Product or expose the features of the Product for use by an unlicensed third party unless agreed with Muhimbi. From a licensing perspective embedding our software in a SAAS based solution is considered redistributing our software and requires an OEM license. 
     


Renewing Licenses / Support licenses

Independent of the type of license purchased you automatically receive a 1 year support license, which entitles you to free updates and access to our support desk using any of the means listed on the Contact Us page.

After the support license has expired your software will continue to work, but you can no longer deploy new versions released after the expiry of the license. You can renew your support license for 30% of the current retail price, which is not necessarily the price you originally bought the product for, although they may be the same.

 

What servers / environments do you need a license for

Some vendors charge extra license fees for Development or Test environments, which - quite frankly - we find a questionable practice. The most common environments are summarised below with an explanation about any extra licenses needed.

  • Development: This environment is commonly used by Software or SharePoint developers to create or update solutions using tools such as Visual Studio and SharePoint Designer. Providing our software is used for development purposes only, and not used for any production purposes, then you don’t need a separate license for this environment. Examples of Production use in a Development environment is running our PDF Converter on the Development Team’s SharePoint Server that is used for production purposes, e.g. storing documents for the development projects.
     
  • Systems Test: Once development on a software project has finished the solution is commonly installed and tested in a clean test environment that resembles the Production environment. Providing this environment is not used for Production purposes, it rarely is, you do not need an extra license.
     
  • User Acceptance Test: Once the development team has finished development the end-users usually test the solution as well to see if it matches the requirements and functions as expected. Some organisations use the Systems Test environment for this, but other organisations have a separate UAT environment. Providing this environment is not used for Production purposes, it rarely is, you do not need an extra license.
     
  • Support: Some organisations run an identical copy of their Production environment in a so called Support environment. Quite often this environment runs very recent data based on backups taken the day before. Support staff can assist users and troubleshoot problems on a relatively up to date copy of the system without impacting the data in the Production system. From a licensing perspective this is a grey area as this environment is sometimes used for Production purposes. For example, if a Production user requests assistance with the conversion of a PDF file and this conversion is then carried out by a member of the support team in the Support environment, and the resulting file is transferred to the user, then this is considered Production use and you need a license for this environment.
     
  • Staging: Depending on the kind of solutions in place, an organisation or team may need a staging environment. Staging environments are commonly used for, but not limited to, content management based solutions to prepare content for an Intranet or public web site. If the staging environment is used for preparing production data then you need a license for this environment:
     
  • Production: Production environments always require a license.
     
  • Disaster Recovery: Many of the larger organisations mirror their production environment in an off-site Disaster Recovery Centre. From a licensing perspective we consider Disaster Recovery Centres to be Production environments, even if disaster never strikes and the environment is never used.
     
  • SAAS Based solutions: From a licensing perspective embedding our software in a SAAS based solution is considered redistributing our software and requires an OEM license.

Muhimbi's software is licensed on a 'per server' basis. This means that you need a license for every Production and Disaster Recovery server that runs our software. In case of the PDF Converter for SharePoint  this means all Web Front End servers, all Application Servers participating in workflows (how to determine this) and all servers running the conversion service. Any K2 Workflow Servers that have our K2 integration facilities installed require a license as well.

         

Differences between the PDF Converter Web Service, PDF Converter for SharePoint and PDF Converter Professional

The PDF Converter for SharePoint as well as the PDF Converter Services share a common conversion engine.  However these are separate products and licensed accordingly. The PDF Converter for SharePoint may only be used from SharePoint based environments whereas the PDF Converter Services may be used from any environment including SharePoint, Java, .NET and other web services capable systems.

The PDF Converter Professional license is an add-on that adds additional functionality to either the PDF Converter for SharePoint or the PDF Converter Services. This functionality, e.g. PDF/A post-processing and OCR, is usually associated with more complex environments and has therefore been separated from the main product. Please note that the PDF Converter Professional is a license that must be applied alongside a valid license of the PDF Converter for SharePoint or PDF Converter services. A separate download of the Professional version of the software is not needed, the license unlocks all functionality.

Make sure you purchase the correct product based on your needs and environment. If you are already licensed for the PDF Converter for SharePoint and wish to use it from non-SharePoint based environments as well then please contact us and we’ll provide a competitive upgrade code.

 

I realise this post is almost longer than the License Agreement it is trying to explain, but I hope it clarifies our licensing position. If you have any further questions then please check out the following sources or contact us at licensing@muhimbi.com.

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