Autodesk Unveils People-Centered Subscription Plan

Software giant to retire legacy licensing plans based on serial numbers in favor of a named-user strategy.

Software giant to retire legacy licensing plans based on serial numbers in favor of a named-user strategy.

Autodesk aims to lead the charge to a named-user subscription licensing model in the design tool space. Image Courtesy of Autodesk.


Out with the old and in with the new. That tried and true saying has particular relevance to Autodesk these days as the software maker announces changes to its software licensing and subscription plans, trading up a strategy built around serial numbers for a new model centered on named users.

Autodesk, which has currently migrated 1.8 million users away from traditional perpetual licensing and maintenance to a more modern subscription plan, is ditching serial numbers for a named user format as part of an overall strategy to deliver a more relevant user experience to customers, according to Carl White, Autodesk’s vice president of business models and pricing. Traditional plans based on serial numbers offer limited visibility and encourage downtime when all licenses are in use, as potential users are left waiting to gain access to available licenses. In addition, it can be costly to manage traditional licenses as IT must track servers and serial numbers as part of maintaining license compliance.

In comparison, named-user plans provide direct visibility into usage by both product and version, allowing organizations to optimize their licensing costs. Users no longer have to wait around for a software license to become available, so there are no restrictions on work time, and licenses are managed by Autodesk, alleviating the burden on IT, White explains.

Perhaps the biggest value of named-user licensing is knowing exactly who the user is and what they are doing with the software as opposed to relying on tribal knowledge about the deployment. “By sharing usage information with customers, we can help them make their business investments with us more optimized,” he says. “Instead of putting their finger in the air and saying, `we are going to need three more licenses this year,’ they can make decisions based on knowledge and facts.”

Starting August 7, 2021, all Autodesk subscriptions with multi-user access and all maintenance plans will be retired and no renewals will be possible. Leading up to this milestone, two- and three-year subscriptions with multi-user access will no longer be sold and can not be renewed after February 29. At the same time, Autodesk will no longer offer new one-year subscriptions with multi-user access after August 7, 2021, and the last version of Design & Creation Suites will be released in April with no renewals on these programs after April 16, 2020. Shops can also trade in their multi-user licenses and get two single named-user replacements, White says.

Autodesk is also broadening its plan offerings with a new middle tier called Premium. Premium, aimed at larger businesses seeking advanced administrative tools, includes detailed reporting, single sign-on (SSO) capabilities, and 24 x 7 voice support. Reports cover product usage with specific product details.

Autodesk, which has been a pioneer of the subscription model, wants to lead the charge to named users. “We led the transition to subscription and now you see others in the CAD industry following suit,” White says. “We will lead the transition to named users because we know it’s good for our customers to provide them with data as part of the subscription contract.”

Watch this video to hear Autodesk customers talk about why they prefer a subscription licensing model.

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Beth Stackpole's avatar
Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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