Many developers we talk to are not really aware that RAD Studio offers several different types of licenses. I don’t mean different Editions (like Community Edition, Professional, Enterprise, etc), I mean license types, specifically Named User, Network Named User, and Network Concurrent User.
However we regular run into customers who have requirements that are much better served by one of the Network licenses, but for whatever reason they’ve always been less well known.
So after explaining the difference for the umpteenth time recently I realised I should probably just write it up publicly so I have something to point people at.
Different License Types
Whereas the Edition of RAD Studio you own controls what functionality you have access to (see the Feature Matrix), the license type mostly controls who can use it.
If you’re a RAD Studio, Delphi or C++Builder user and you don’t know what type of license you have, then there’s a very good chance it’s a Named User license. So let’s have a look at that first:
Named User Licenses (Named User or Network Named User)
As the name might suggest, the product is licensed to a specific, named individual. Not a specific machine, not a particular role, but a specific person.
For example, Lily Munster installs RAD Studio on her laptop, on her main desktop and maybe on a machine on a customer site. That’s fine as long as Lily is the only person using that license of RAD Studio on any of those machines. Fred is another developer that works with Lily, but he can’t use RAD Studio on one of Lily’s machines, even if Lily isn’t using it right now, because it is licensed specifically to Lily.
What if Lily is on holidays and Fred is going to cover for her? Surely that’s ok? Nope, according to the license, it’s still not OK for him to use Lily’s license.
Now that last scenario is one that seems reasonable on the surface, right? I think most people understand that if you own 3 licenses, then you shouldn’t have more than 3 people using the product, but I suspect many don’t realise that it’s not just the number of users that matters, but the specific named user.
We’ll cover a different license in a moment that does allow this scenario, but let’s go a step further into Named User licenses.
Named User vs Network Named Users
So if we understand that Named User is really what it say’s on the tin: a specific individual referenced by name, then what’s this Network Named business?
The difference between Named and Network Named is all about who manages the named users. With a Named User license, Embarcadero manages it. Remember when you installed the product and registered it against an EDN account? That was you saying “This is the individual I want to enable to use this license. This is the named user”. If Lily leaves the company and you hire Eddie to take over, then you need to contact Embarcadero support and have the license transferred to Eddie’s name.
With a Network Named User license, however, you are in control. Instead of using Embarcadero’s server to register against, you can run your own license server on your network. You can then use its web interface to see all the licenses you own and who they are currently allocated to. When Lily goes on holiday and Fred is covering for her? No problem, log in to your server, allocate Lily’s license to Fred and you’re good to go. When Lily comes back, allocate it back again.
The server is very small and doesn’t use many resources. I even know of developers running the license server on their local laptops along with the IDE, just so they have control over registrations, etc.
It’s also really useful when you have contractors. Rather than registering one of your licenses against their name and then trying to get it back when they are finished, if it’s managed by your license server, you can take it back whenever you like.
The other thing to realise is that Named User and Network Named User licenses are the same price, and the license server is a free download. So financially there’s no penalty to using a Network Named license.
Network Concurrent User Licenses
Sometimes we have customers with a slightly different requirement. They may have a few developers who need occasional access to RAD Studio. They don’t need it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, maybe only for a few hours here and there. It probably doesn’t make sense to buy each of them a full named license that will sit unused most of the time, however if we try to get them to share a Network Named User license, you’re going to spend a lot of time re-allocating licenses between different users.
What would be better is if we had a pool of licenses that could be checked in an out as required. Think like a library book. When Lily has it checked out, Fred has to wait, but when she returns it, it’s now available for Fred to checkout. It’s not being used by more than one at a time, but we don’t have to specifically allocate it to one or the other, it’s just first come, first served.
That’s exactly what Network Concurrent licenses are. They use the same lightweight license server that we discussed above (so you’re still in control) and they also allow people to check out licenses for an extended time. For example, if I need to take my laptop onsite and use RAD Studio, but I won’t have network connectivity, I can check a license out of the pool for up to 30 days, use it offline, then check it back in when I’m online again.
Network Concurrent licenses do cost more than Network Named licenses, so if someone needs access more than 50% of the time, it would financially make sense to give them one of the named user licenses. But where you have people who use it less frequently, it becomes a much nicer option.
Mix and Match Network licenses
The other benefit to using Network licenses is that you can mix and match them. Let’s say you have 4 developers who use RAD Studio fulltime, and then another 3 who need access occasionally. No issue, you could put 4 Network Named licenses and 1 Network Concurrent license on the same license server. Then allocate the Network Named licenses to the people who need them all the time, and everyone else can share the Concurrent license. You also have a single place under your control where you can manage the state of all the licenses.
Hopefully that’s helped explain the difference, and also potentially sparked some thoughts about how it might work better. As always, reach out to us if you’d like to discuss your current licensing and how it could fit your needs more effectively, or if you’d like to discuss us hosting a dedicated License Server for you.