A major barrier to innovation for startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is the cost of simulation software. Combining this cost with the learning curve required to apply the principles embedded in computer-aided engineering (CAE) has resulted in many great ideas not getting to market. It is widely recognised that SMEs are the powerhouse of economic growth globally, and that every effort should be made to facilitate their rocky path to create a sustainable business. Altair’s contribution to SME growth is to make CAE more accessible, firstly by changing their licensing model for solidThinking.
Eight years ago, when they released Hyperworks 11.0, Altair changed their license manager from Flexera to LM-X from X-Formation. The objective of this change was to provide greater flexibility in the licensing options offered to customers, especially for their Hyperworks suite. The licensing model is units-based and the customer buys and uses the Hyperworks units (HWUs) according to the business need, selecting the specific software they require from the suite, rather than buying licenses for each product. Users of solidThinking software were still required to buy each of the products they wanted, based on the license model that was in force when Altair acquired solidThinking.
Although Altair had purchased solidThinking in 2008, they did not change the license management software from the original Flexera FlexLM and the purchase-per-product approach until recently, in August 2018. solidThinking units (sTUs) are now available for all products in the solidThinking suite. The units are stored in a pool, and the user books out the software he needs by checking out the number of units required for that application, for instance, Altair Inspire 2018. On finishing with the application, the sTUs are returned to the pool for the next user.
A Single Licensing Model for On-Site and the Cloud
To simplify the license model even more, the software can either be used on-site or in the cloud. This is useful for SMEs who have limited computing power and want to avail themselves of cloud services, such as Altair’s own cloud-hosting service, Altair 365. The number of units required for the organization is also flexible; units can be added or removed to fit current circumstances.
Existing customers can convert to the new model with the minimum of fuss:-
- Perpetual license holders with maintenance agreements will have their licenses converted to full sTU licenses for the same cost as the existing annual maintenance agreement.
- Where the perpetual license holder had let their maintenance agreement lapse, there was an offer made to upgrade the existing licenses during an incentive period, which lapsed at the end of December 2018.
- Where the licenses were being leased, the customer is upgraded to sTU licensing at no additional cost.
For all existing license holders, the conversion gives them access to the entire solidThinking suite of applications, and the ability to run the programs on-site or in the cloud.
More Intuitive Software
Altair recognizes that many SMEs will not have the necessary skills on-board to handle the complexities of CAE. To this end, they have focused on making the simulation products easy to use and intuitive, both for engineers who are familiar with simulation software and other resources who are not from a engineering background but need to run simulations. The combination of easy-to-use software and an affordable pricing model make solidThinking an attractive option for SMEs. Through purchasing sTUs, they have access to 9 applications, ranging from conceptual designs using Evolve through to extrusion and cast metal moulding using the Inspire applications for this. There is even Compose, a programming language for mathematical modelling, similar to Matlab.
The flexibility of the solution, combined with its scaleability, allows an SME to develop and grow at their own pace. Cost constraints imposed by the need to invest in costly high-performance computing can be avoided by using the cloud, either Altair’s own service or another cloud provider. By removing the barriers to using simulation software, Altair has levelled the playing field for small businesses to compete against large organizations. Using simulation software instead of prototyping both reduces costs of product development and accelerates time to market.
Small Startups get a Boost
While Altair has come up with this licensing model to boost innovation by small businesses, it recognises that the cost may still be beyond the means of early-stage startups. For this reason they have developed a startup program for startups and entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria, including:-
- an annual revenue of less than $10 million
- a privately held concern, and
- less than 4 years old.
Apart from providing software at deep discounts of up to 80%, Altair also offers free consultancy and training to such startups. They are also prepared to assist SMEs who do not meet the criteria with discounts, based on the current state of their business.
Like other vendors providing simulation software, Altair facilitates academic institutions by providing discounted software to the institutions and teachers, and free software to students who need to perform simulations as part of their studies.
How Altair benefits from the New License Model
While the units-based license model brings in less revenue from a user who previously had to buy each of the solidThinking applications separately, Altair have opened up their market to a new customer base of SMEs and startups. This means more sales and the ability to partner with small businesses as they grow. Their larger customers, such as Airbus and Samsung, can also benefit from the new business model, which is easy to administer and tailor according to demand.
Customers who start the relationship with solidThinking products can move on to other Altair products as the need arises, such as their high-performance platform or Internet of Things and digital twins platforms. In this respect, the new license model is a win-win for both Altair and their customers.