Acresso's Good Timing in Enterprise Software License Management


The Sept. 9 announcement of a new version of FLEXnet by Acresso sent me looking for a company/product update. I found that the April 2008 spin-out of Acresso Software from Macrovision by Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm, has been blessed with the good timing of some otherwise bad news.


The U.S. "recession in our mind," the heated debate over enterprise-software maintenance fees, and the proliferation of hard-to-identify software brands masked by the open source movement and software market convergence (that is, mergers and acquisitions) all have helped. These trends play into the ability of Acresso to help enterprises in situations where managing enterprise-software license scale and complexity is a growing issue. The movement of virtualization from buzzword in 2007 to real market driver in 2009 will just keep the fire burning.


Acresso, the former Macrovision Software Business Unit, is best known for its FLEXnet and InstallShield family of products. They let independent software vendors (ISV's) manage entitlements, software licensing, compliance, installation and electronic software delivery. Acresso also delivers the Adminstudio product line that provides asset management, license usage and mass deployment tools to IT departments at enterprise organizations.


I had a great discussion with Roger Bottum, Acresso's VP of sales and marketing, who explained how -- as an independent entity -- the new old company is going to extend the FLEXnet/InstallShield/Adminstudio concept in multiple directions. The original Macrovision enterprise-scale products have long had a strong presence in large companies such as the leading natural-resource companies (calling them oil companies gets me too many nasty e-mails) and electronics manufacturers. The unifying theme is organizations where there are both many high-value engineering people and a lot of expensive applications. An SAP license manager announced in July came out just in time to help out all the SAP users concerned about (to put it politely) SAP's new maintenance pricing and policies. The product announced on Sept. 9 has the unusual advantage of helping both IT users and software suppliers.


What Roger has found since joining after the spin-out is that IT managers and staffs are basically honest. They want to do the right thing by their software contracts. Of course they don't want to pay more than is due and they want the ability to manage the usage on a more timely basis than the past, which has meant only when an enterprise software contract is lapsing.


Roger draws an analogy with ERP software, where he and I first met when he had a similar job with Systems Software Associates. Acresso's applications provide the kind of planning and inventory management capabilities to IT staffs in charge of software that ERP provides plant managers.