Convenience and security: Exploring the advantages of subscription software
The evolution of software has accelerated tremendously in recent years, particularly as cloud-based solutions have gained popularity. Given the reliability and convenience, cloud-based software has become the norm for both business and personal applications.
This shift from boxed products to software-as-a-service (SaaS) has changed how software is purchased, delivered, and updated. As the value of subscriptions becomes more apparent, that licensing model is becoming the standard for modern software solutions.
What is subscription-based licensing?
Subscription-based licensing is when a customer pays a regularly scheduled fee — typically an annual or monthly charge — to use a product or service.
For software vendors and IT service providers, subscription-based licensing has become the default business model. That’s because modern software typically requires frequent and continuous updates. While boxed products are rarely updated once installed on a machine (hastening their journey to obsolescence), cloud-based subscriptions ensure that consumers and businesses constantly receive automatic updates the moment they become available.
Not only do those updates ensure users are running the latest version of the software — gaining all of the performance and functionality benefits that entails — they also keep data, applications, and systems better protected.
Subscriptions enable stronger cybersecurity
The ability to provide regular, up-to-the-minute updates is particularly vital for cyber protection and cybersecurity vendors, who must keep users protected against the ever-changing threat landscape. More than a thousand new vulnerabilities are identified every month, which all require immediate patching to prevent them from being exploited.
At the same time, cybercriminals are using advanced technologies to increase the sophistication, frequency, and effectiveness of their attacks. New malware strains are created on a daily basis — security lab AV-Test Institute registers more than 350,000 new malware threats every day, and the Acronis Cyberthreats Report recently found that malware strains only exist for an average of 3.4 days before being replaced.
Without the ability to frequently update defenses, any software solution can become ineffective within a short amount of time — both because new, never-before-seen threats are emerging and because the old definitions used to detect threats are quickly outdated.
Modern cyber protection requires constant vigilance, which is why these solutions must be continuously updated to protect individuals and organizations from the latest cyberthreats.
Business benefits of subscriptions
In addition to the performance and security considerations, the benefits that subscription-based licensing delivers to organizations, in particular, is driving its adoption. Those business benefits include cost-effectiveness, budgeting, and scalability.
- Cost-effectiveness. A subscription-based license lowers the initial cost of entry. Instead of spending hundreds, often thousands of dollars for hardware devices and software licenses — not to mention the cost of maintenance and upgrades — businesses need only pay a manageable monthly fee for what they use.
- Budgeting. A subscription-based license is an operational expense (OpeX), and it eliminates the internal bureaucracy and hurdles associated with a capital expenditure (CapEx) spend. Monthly or annual subscription fees are predictable, making solutions easy to budget for.
- Scalability. If a company is growing and the business requirements change, subscription licenses can be easily adjusted to scale the product/service up without further major investments.
Subscriptions benefit consumers too
For consumers, subscription-based licensing offers the convenience and security of automatic updates along with lower upfront costs.
With a subscription-based license, consumers don’t have to worry about whether new software versions have made their solution obsolete or if the vendor will stop offering technical support. The latest functionalities and security features are always (and automatically) available to subscribers.
In addition, perpetual licenses for an enterprise-quality solution are often a considerable investment, while subscriptions to that same software can be an affordable option to individual users. Spreading the total cost of ownership over a longer period of time allows users to try out software that would otherwise feel prohibitively expensive — and if it’s not the right fit, the subscription can be canceled.
One of the unsung benefits of subscription licensing is that the software vendors and service providers offering subscriptions must make customer satisfaction a top priority. After all, it’s easier for an unhappy customer to walk away if they pay as they go than if they’ve made a large upfront investment — so vendors will do all they can to keep those subscription customers happy.
At the end of the day, while some traditionalists might long for the days of buying boxed software, subscription-based solutions provide clear benefits for today’s IT needs — from improved performance and security to business advantages and customer support.