Autodesk Licensing Update – Change is Coming and Now Is the Time to Prepare

By Chris Vicknair

Director of Client Services, NPI

April 21, 2021
Autodesk IT

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If your company is in the construction, manufacturing or engineering industry, there is a good chance you are spending quite a bit on Autodesk licensing. Autodesk provides PC software and multimedia tools designed to aid in architectural and mechanical design, as well as geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping.

With over 110 software titles generating over $3.5B in revenue, Autodesk’s solution portfolio is prolific. At its core lies AutoCAD – the vendor’s flagship offering and an essential product in construction, engineering and design that’s been used to design everything from Tesla cars to bridges to couture fashion. In short, AutoCAD and the portfolio of solutions that work in conjunction with it are invaluable to designers across a variety of industries.

Changes to Autodesk Licensing Expose New Risk and Opportunity for Customers

Over the years, NPI has analyzed many Autodesk purchases and renewals for our clients, providing price benchmark analysis and advice on how to optimize cost. As of late, we’ve observed a few trends Autodesk customers should be aware of as they plan, purchase and renew with the vendor.

Like most software vendors that have a perpetual license heritage, Autodesk is migrating toward a subscription model. If history is any guide, eventually the traditional perpetual license/annual maintenance model will likely be phased out completely.

Autodesk calls this shift the M2S (Maintenance to Subscription) program. Currently, the vendor is offering very aggressive “swaps” to move a perpetual license to a subscription user. NPI recommends customers that haven’t already moved to a subscription model should consider taking advantage of these swaps while they still have option to do so. When Autodesk officially discontinues support for perpetual licenses and customers are forced to move to a subscription model, they will have less negotiation leverage to push for more advantageous pricing or swap counts.

Autodesk currently has several SaaS license (or subscription) types ranging from named user, to network (or multi-user), to ETR (Extra Territory Rights). The vendor does publish pricing for Autodesk licensing and subscriptions but it’s not always helpful because it only shows named user price. The vendor charges a premium for network, and a slightly larger premium for ETR users.

Speaking of multi-user licenses, we’ve observed Autodesk making a concerted – albeit slow – effort to move away from these licensing options. But, like many programmatic changes in their initial phase, application is uneven. Some customers are being pushed aggressively away from networked licenses while others aren’t being pushed at all. This is a bit confusing because the ETR license type is essentially a networked user, but it has a different intent. An ETR license is for truly global companies with geographically dispersed users. This license type is intended for – as an example – a U.S.-based user to utilize the license during their workday, and then another user in Asia could use the same license during their workday. The license is not intended for concurrent users, but rather one license that is used by multiple users, one at a time.

It’s worth noting that customers with $500K+ in annual spend may be  good candidates for Autodesk’s Enterprise Business Agreement (EBA) – Flex Token program. NPI has had a good deal of experience helping clients analyze whether this is a good choice for them. We recommend customers carefully analyze Autodesk licensing usage to determine token program sizing that reflects actual usage requirements.

Make Sure You’re Getting A Good Deal on Autodesk Licensing

As Autodesk makes the transition from perpetual to subscription licensing,  customers have a great opportunity to leverage these changes to their advantage, especially when armed with accurate price benchmark analysis and buy-side negotiation intel. If you’re looking to learn more about these changes – particularly if you have a new purchase or renewal on the horizon – NPI can assist.