Fake news in the software industry

We got a surprising email from a customer this week. A long time very loyal customer that received an offer from a competitor, as following:

Over the years OpenLM has provided exceptional support and a product that has met my needs.

I was approached by a competitor and have no idea how they discovered we are your customer but they knew.

As part of their sales pitch, they sent me the attached “White Paper. I would never refer to such as a “White Paper”. White papers are scholarly factual descriptions of how a product or process functions to provide service or meet it’s goal. Most of what they sent is a potentially libelous slam that uses semantics to phrase claims in a light that benefits their product. If you have not seen it, you should look it over.

You can find the document sent to our customer in the following link.

The paper was written by Guy D. Haas, BS, MBA, President, TeamEDA, Inc.

While I got an advice to seek for a legal assistance we thought that we better let you judge. Unlike the writer of the paper we value our customers as being smart and professionals – not naive. The only cure we know for Fake news is Fact-checking and this is what we are going to do in this article. We are looking forward to getting your feedback about it.

In total I collected 38 claims from the document and decided to stop at this point. All the claims that can be categories with Incorrect/Correct are shown in the following table. In total 3 out of the 38 claims are correct, in total 90% are incorrect claims. After the table I will discuss claims that can’t be categorized by a simple Incorrect/correct (you can skip to this part using this link).

 

Fact-checking table:

# Claim Correct? Fact
1 OpenLM does not support Asset/Inventory Management Incorrect We provide comprehensive inventory management – links
2 Contact Management Correct We don’t provide contact management
3 OpenLM does not support mapping of features to products Incorrect Fully supported – link
4 OpenLM does not support Feature Name Aliasing Incorrect Fully supported – Link
5 OpenLM does not provide support for Concurrency or Heatmap Graphs, or Zero Use or Group Usage Tables Incorrect Fully supported – link
6 OpenLM does not provide Batch Reports Incorrect Fully supported – link
7 OpenLM release new version 3-4 times a month Incorrect OpenLM transparently document each software release in our site and one can easily see that this is incorrect.
8 OpenLM is low quality due to lack of testing Incorrect OpenLM holds an inhouse QA team of 4 people and also employs automatic QA software
9 OpenLM customers are required to upgrade monthly Incorrect OpenLM customers get a very stable product and need to upgrade based on resolved issues/new functionality needed. OpenLM is using Agile development methods that allows us to provide fast response to customers.
10 OpenLM support is only in Israel Incorrect OpenLM has support centers in different timezones to provide global 24/6 support – see further discussion bellow
11 OpenLM does not provide support in English Incorrect OpenLM US support team are English native employees of OpenLM Inc. (US company) – see discussion
12 OpenLM support is only accessible by email Incorrect OpenLM support is accessible by phone (toll free US number:  +1-866-806-2068, Online chat (Link), Support online form (link) and email
13 OpenLM cannot and will not provide any on-site support Incorrect OpenLM does provide on-site support, not only in the US but also worldwide
14 OpenLM cannot support a Dashboard Incorrect OpenLM does have a dashboard and it can be configured using our role based security system – Link
15 OpenLM reports are not accessible using a hyperlink Incorrect OpenLM provides links into specific reports – see discussion
16 .NET does not allow URL-based report creation. Incorrect A claim about .NET technology which is totally wrong. “URL based report” can be implemented with almost any development language
17 OpenLM can’t support big companies with best practices Incorrect OpenLM has more than 1000 customers with thousands of employees. 10% of our customers are in the Fortune 1000 list. We also have prominent customers in the public sector and academia.
18 OpenLM only offers a cheap solution for basic usage monitoring. Incorrect Companies who use OpenLM to monitor Catia, Siemens PLM, hundreds of CAD licenses and advanced simulation software are looking for a lot more than basic monitoring. – link to case studies
19 OpenLM is cheap and can’t invest in development Incorrect OpenLM’s development team has more than 20 full-time developers
20 OpenLM is cheap and can’t invest in support Incorrect OpenLM support team is 6 people strong and provides 24/6 coverage worldwide. Most customers call on us only occasionally for support, because of the stability of our core product and they find it very easy to use
21 Idle license harvesting is not legal Incorrect It is the customer’s right to close the software when it’s not in use
22 Harvesting an idle license is dangerous Incorrect The term “dangerous” does not seem to be valid here. Note that OpenLM provides the option to save before closing the application.
23 OpenLM requires an agent Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an optional software component
24 OpenLM Agent is required to be installed on servers Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an application for end users workstations not for servers
25 OpenLM must be installed on each workstation Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an optional component which many of our customers choose to install thanks to the huge benefits it brings them
26 OpenLM Agent must be installed on each license server Incorrect OpenLM Agent for the license manager (OpenLM Broker) is optional and the system can function without it. By installing it, the customer is getting advanced functionality
27 Installing OpenLM “open up your network, License Servers, and Workstations to a company in Israel?” Incorrect Installing OpenLM on-premise does not expose our customer’s information to us. Our software does not send anything outside the organization, and we respect all data privacy legislation globally.
28 There really is no way to monitor usage of node-locked licenses Incorrect OpenLM has supported this functionality for the last 8 years
29 OpenLM License Allocation Manager uses FLEXlm Options Files capabilities to manage allocations Correct Correct, we are utilizing and enhancing the built-in functionality – link to product page
30 OpenLM (does not have) any daemon management capability other than maybe editing Option files, and that is questionable. Incorrect OpenLM provides: reread, start, stop, upload license files, download any logs and more
31 Software architecture is determine by development language Incorrect There is no tie between development language and architecture
32 Java  and PHP is a more flexible framework compare to .NET Incorrect If I purchase an application, the coding is irrelevant in most cases, as a customer I want a working product. OpenLM does use Java, check this article
33 Java and PHP allows url-based report generation while .NET does not Incorrect This capability is not related to the development language but to the software architecture (OpenLM is using the SPA concept)
34 .NET is only Windows Incorrect This claim is against Microsoft and inaccurate.  The new version of .NET – .NET Core is platform independent and we are switching to it.
35 OpenLM does not offer Linux solution Incorrect From the beginning, in 2007 we fully supported license servers running on any platform either by direct query or by cross platform agent
36 OpenLM does not have offices all over the world Incorrect OpenLM has physical offices in Israel and Europe.
37 OpenLM main location for development is Israel Correct We are proud to have our main development center in Israel
36 OpenLM’s main location for support is Israel Incorrect We would be proud if that was true  but in order to provide best quality support we have more representatives around the world
37 OpenLM website links don’t go anywhere Incorrect We hate dead links with a passion and if you are unlucky enough to encounter one, on our site, please let us know!

Stay tuned for the upcoming launch of our new even “more comprehensive” website !

38 OpenLM makes a lot of false claims about functionality and performance Incorrect OpenLM stands by its word regarding functionality and performance. We support the world’s biggest configurations – link

More Claims

Few of the claims that I am not able to answer with a Incorrect/correct answer so I would like to refer to it here:

Claim: “OpenLM is a small Israeli company, who seems to cater to small naive companies, where low price is the #1 consideration. Not sure how long they have been in business, or if they are profitable. Hard to imagine since they can’t be generating that much revenue.”

There are multiple claims here:

OpenLM is a small Israeli company: The term small is relative, you can be small compared to another company. Yes, we are small compared to Apple. OpenLM is actually a group of three companies: OpenLM LTD, OpenLM Inc. and OPENLM SOFTWARE S.R.L.. The groups employ more than 40 workers worldwide at the time of writing this document, and we are currently expanding our workforce.

OpenLM seems to cater to small naive companies:  “Small” is relative and size is no indication of company expertise, skills and market share. Everyone has to start somewhere and we recognise and value our SME customers just as much as our large corporates. Our customers are also very worldly wise – naive companies would not be investing in license management software, as they understand the risks of compliance.

We are very proud of our loyal customer base, which includes some of the leading organizations in the following industries:-

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Construction and Architecture
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and Gas
  • Research
  • Technology

to mention a few.

We also provide services to the public sector, from local authorities to government entities, including US Defense bodies.

Through our University Program, we have a strong academic customer base, with at least 20 of the global top 200 universities that we are delighted to have as customers, as this is where our customers of the future are being educated in the use of engineering and scientific software.

As to size, we have customers who employ thousands of employees globally and whose brands are instantly recognizable.

Not sure how long they are in business: OpenLM has been in business from 2009 as a company. The operation started 2 years before incorporation as a project within another company. As of 2019, we have been in the market for 12 years.

Not sure if OpenLM is profitable: Thanks for your concern, we are doing well.

 

Other claims I would only want to refer to briefly (these are not a Incorrect/Correct response):

  1. It does not make sense to monitor node locked licenses – Read the following articles, links 1 2
  2. OpenLM Agent is capable of monitoring keyboard, mouse and cpu, which degrades system performance – Any software that you might install on your workstation will degrade performance. Taking it to the extreme, if you don’t install anything, you will have the best performance and security but no functionality, so perhaps you should also turn off the power as well. Many of our customers decided to implement OpenLM Agent because of the value it brings to the table and they feel that any performance degradation (which is minimal) is worth it. By the way, OpenLM does not directly monitor keyboard, mouse activity.
  3. Idle license harvesting is intrusive/not legal/dangerous – There are many limitations that companies impose on their workers, and have written policies stating these limitations. They are not allowed to install any software they want, to access any site, to store content and more. The equipment of the company is dedicated to work and companies expect their employees to use it as such. Although these actions are intrusive most people agree they are reasonable. Our customers view the expensive engineering software as a company resource, that should be used as such. When it’s not in use, they expect it to be released to another user that needs it. This is a feature we support. It is not a default, it is up to the customer to implement it or not for one or more of their software applications. I assisted many companies to implement this functionality and most end users are thankful for implementing it, it improves the availability of the applications they need and saves money for their companies. Installing OpenLM Agent and harvesting idle licenses is legal and implemented by OpenLM customers worldwide. In Europe, Germany has the most restrictive legislation regarding user privacy and for them, we introduced a specific functionality that addresses any possible privacy concerns.
  4. Software release policy – OpenLM typically releases two major software releases per year. We do also release minor software releases based on new functionality and software issues we are resolving. Typically most software issues don’t affect every user and most users can skip a few releases and only install software releases that are relevant to them. Our quality system is constantly developing and consists of both automatic and manual testing. We also have a load testing infrastructure that allows us to mimic real customer loads up to 400 monitored license server ports, 25,000 concurrent users and query activity via the user interface. I think that a company that releases new versions of its software shows that it is constantly evolving and that it cares about its customers.

In general, a software comparison written by a competitor himself is always biased so most users will read it carefully. OpenLM also drafted one as per the request of our customers but we did that with a very careful approach, consulting the competitor website and users. We always invite users to correct us if we are wrong, and immediately implement comments we receive. I invite you to examine the result.

There is also another white paper from the same author comparing his software to FLEXnet for Engineering Applications. As a service I also share it with you.

Before I summarize this long document I would like to refer to the main claim of the author of this white paper. When  you buy expensive software you get high quality. Cheaper software will give you lower quality, functionality and performance. This is a very simplified view of the market, most people understand that pricing policies are much more complex and involve many different considerations. Most companies check the software offered to them, comparing functionality, performance and pricing and looking for the best ratio – value for money. It also applies to other fields as well, take Ikea as an example, you get very high quality items if you are willing to compromise on the uniqueness. When you do, you get the best value for your money.

We in OpenLM, decided we would like to bring our technology to as many companies as possible, introducing a very aggressive pricing model. Mr. Haas is not the first competitor that complains about our policy, another competitor came to our offices and explained why he thinks this is not good for the market, and had an offer for us. We listened, discussed and decided to refuse but we have respect for this person and the company that he represents.  

 

Summary

I have nothing to say about author’s company or software. In general we prefer that the customer himself will do the evaluation and make the decision. I just have to mention that in 2013 he contacted us and asked our permission to use OpenLM Engine to extract the data from the license servers. His plan was to replace the engine he was using as white label until then. This deal did not happen but knowing this I was very surprised to read this document.

Since we released the first version of OpenLM in 2007 we decided that we will allow everyone to download and install our software and let the best company win.

If you are not already a user of OpenLM Software I personally invite you to download our software and judge the claims for yourself. We are offering a wide variety of options to interact with our technology:

  • Download our on-premise installation
  • Open a SaaS account with minimal install of OpenLM broker on the license server.
  • OpenLM Parser premium provides the ability to receive usage data with zero installation

OpenLM Support will provide full support during the evaluation process of the software. We are available to support you by email, chat and phone. I invite you to try our software and service and share your experience with the community.

There is one claim that I fully agree with: by implementing a software assets management for your engineering licenses you can save 20% of your expenses, furthermore, some of our customers who also implemented some of the advanced functionality, like software harvesting, managed to save a lot more.

Are you an OpenLM Customer? I will be grateful if you drop a response here. We are willing to get both positive and negative feedback and improve accordingly. If you prefer not to comment here our customer success representative will be happy to speak with you in person (click here to leave a message).

Oren Gabay – CEO, OpenLM

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