Do you need data center infrastructure management software (DCIM) to solve headaches in your data center? If so, read this. We make netTerrain — a data center and network documentation platform that documents everything from your data center rooms, rack capacity, assets, cable connections, and managing power — and we offer both annual subscription and perpetual licenses for on-premises installation and a yearly SaaS DCIM subscription, too. In fact, we’re one of the few such vendors (if not the only one) that still offers perpetual in addition to a subscription license, as well as on-premises install, too!

In this post, we’ll explain what each license is and what the benefits are to each type.

Perpetual DCIM vs. Subscription DCIM: What’s the Difference?

First things first: what’s a “perpetual software license”? A perpetual license is one that doesn’t expire. It’s a permanent license that you get to keep forever: it is charged as a one-time fee. It allows your organization to install, use, and never have to worry if the license will expire. Remember when, in the past, folks could go buy a software package at Best Buy or Office Depot and it came with a CD/DVD to install? That’s a perpetual license!

Next up: what’s a “subscription software license”? A subscription license charges a monthly (or annual) fee that gives you the ability to access a software platform with an expiration date. Once your subscription expires, you will need to renew the license, or you cannot gain access to netTerrain. It’s like where you buy a subscription to use for x number of months or typically a 12 month subscription.

Perpetual vs. Subscription DCIM License: Which Should You Choose?

At Graphical Networks, we don’t recommend one license type over another: it’s the organization’s choice as to which works best for their needs and goals.

Some organizations prefer a perpetual license because it’s a flat fee upfront with only the ongoing software maintenance fee to worry about. Perpetual License costs less over time, so for organizations that know they will be using the software for the long haul, and don’t want to be concerned about ongoing software price increases, etc — this may be a good choice. Software maintenance includes new versions of netTerrain and customer support.

Some organizations prefer a subscription license because of its lower upfront, initial cost compared to a perpetual license. It is a great way to get started for a little more than what you would pay just for software maintenance, with a predictable payment schedule.Subscription licenses allow organizations to access software that they previously could not afford and allows them to focus on more efficient incremental development and potentially get more money over a longer period of time.

Perpetual DCIM vs. Subscription DCIM: Cost Considerations

A perpetual license comes with a larger upfront cost than a subscription license. Why? A perpetual license means you can access the license for eternity. A subscription license means that you get access to the license for a defined period of time — for example, one month or 12 months is most common. After the initial period of time has passed, it’s time to renew. The breakeven point for most software vendors for subscription license versus perpetual license is approximately 5 years.

Perpetual DCIM vs. Subscription DCIM: Upgrade Considerations

In many ways, good software is like a good museum: it’s constantly changing to reflect the needs of the users and the current technological climate. Good software needs to be updated frequently to reflect changing user needs and technology. A perpetual license typically may include upgrades for the first year — after that, there is a fee, the software maintenance, if you want to continue to upgrade the software. A subscription license, however, includes all of your upgrades.

With netTerrain, if you need to add additional objects or users, you can do this with either perpetual or subscription license at any time, too. It’s just a new license key that needs to be generated. You can add on at any time!

Perpetual DCIM vs. Subscription DCIM: Support Considerations

We try to make software that doesn’t send you running for the phone or support site every five minutes — and we do (our users are, generally, thrilled with netTerrain’s usability) — but no system is perfectly usable and questions invariably pop up.

With a perpetual license, support is typically covered during the first year of use — after that, you have to pay for that as part of your maintenance fee (which, in our case, includes your upgrades, too). A perpetual license provides you the flexibility to renew or not renew the maintenance fee; However, with a subscription license, your support is included in the price you’re paying.

Overall — your choice of a subscription vs. a perpetual license truly depends on your needs: do you prefer to pay a one-time fee and then just maintenance going forward? Or do you need a lower cost to start using netTerrain, with a predictable cost every year? The choice is yours with netTerrain! While you’re here, want to learn more about netTerrain? Click here to get a 14-day free trial or a demo.

About Fred Koh

As a seasoned sales executive, Fred Koh serves as Director of Sales and is responsible for Graphical Networks sales and channel partner program, marketing strategy, and operations.