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Thread: Maintenance vx. Subscription

  1. #1
    100 Club Grumpy's Avatar
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    Default Maintenance vx. Subscription

    Good Morning,

    Can anyone tell me the difference between Maintenance and Subscription for AutoCAD?

    We have been on Subscription for many years now and have paid out Subscription fee every year for the newest release as well as other benefits. Now our re-seller is showing us a new pricing model which looks like we are now on Maintenance and how much we will save over the next 3 years if we switch to Subscription. Our sales guy tried to explain it over the phone, but I just didn't get it. I have asked for a written description, but have not received it yet.

    Any thoughts?
    David
    David B. Baker
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    Munters Corporation, Aerotech Ventilation Systems
    Lansing, MI USA

  2. #2
    Programming Moderator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    This is a loaded topic, that is sure to have strong opinions.

    For some better understanding of the costs associate with remaining on Maintenance, or converting to Subscription to save some money now (at the risk of giving up your perpetual licences AND paying a lot more later), see this first of a small series of posts (links to others in the series at bottom):

    https://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/2017...scription-now/


    This may be helpful as well:

    https://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/?s=subscription


    I myself am in a similar situation, as long time Maintenance users here - as a result of new hires we can no longer standardize the applications we use without converting to subscription.

    I presented the short-term savings, and inherent risk & sacrifices associated with subscription, as well as the inherent issues with either remaining on Maintenance or simply not renewing at all (and not upgrading beyond 2018 for N years)... And the owner elected to purchase the new Subscription licenses we need for new hires, and convert us to subscription.

    That's only the beginning - I've only this week started to download all items included with AEC Collection, and each item has a different product key, has to be downloaded separately (not en-mass, or check which one's we want), you have to manually select browser download for each item.

    To top it all off... You now also have to install them all one-at-a-time (no more 'Suite' installers where you just pick what you want to install)... Or put in the time to configure, create, and validate network Deployments for each-and-every-single product you want installed, and then still manually spend the time to script the en-mass installer yourself using something Microsoft SCCM software management suite... Which just sucks for this SMB, as I'm not a full-time admin person, I am a civil Designer with plans to get out.


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    Certified AUGI Addict rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy View Post
    Good Morning,

    Can anyone tell me the difference between Maintenance and Subscription for AutoCAD?

    We have been on Subscription for many years now and have paid out Subscription fee every year for the newest release as well as other benefits. Now our re-seller is showing us a new pricing model which looks like we are now on Maintenance and how much we will save over the next 3 years if we switch to Subscription. Our sales guy tried to explain it over the phone, but I just didn't get it. I have asked for a written description, but have not received it yet.

    Any thoughts?
    David
    Set aside 90 minutes and go read Steve's blog (the links in @BlackBox's response here)-- You'll probably find a dozen posts related to this.

    In SUMMARY - as short as I can make this.... (the prices I will use are made up and rounded, but generally proportional)

    Prior to 2016, when you "bought AutoCAD" - you were "buying" a license to use the software, in perpetuity (let's say for $2750). You did not have to pay anything extra. When you "bought" AutoCAD, you could optionally choose to purchase "maintenance" or "be on subscription" (same thing), which means that you pay an annual fee to Autodesk (approximately $700) and you get access to the new version when it comes out, plus a few other benefits. So in effect, you have an upfront cost ($2750) and an annual cost ($700) and you always have the current version. (Note: if you did not purchase "maintenance/subscription, you could keep using that particular version of AutoCAD forever, with no other payments - like when you PURCHASE a car.)

    Sample of purchase and then maintenance (six years usage)
    July 2012 = Purchase AutoCAD = $2750
    July 2013 = $700 subscription fee
    July 2014 = $700 subscription fee
    July 2015 = $700 subscription fee
    July 2016 = $700 subscription fee
    July 2017 = $700 subscription fee
    Total = $6250


    In the new business model - "Subscription" means RENTAL. When you "purchase" AutoCAD today, you will pay a set fee, let's say $1100 again. On July 12, 2018, you will have to pay $1100 again, or your rental software quits working.

    Sample (six years usage)
    July 2017 = $1100 rental fee
    July 2018 = $1100 rental fee
    July 2019 = $1100 rental fee
    July 2020 = $1100 rental fee
    July 2021 = $1100 rental fee
    July 2022 = $1100 rental fee
    Total = $6600

    It's not so much the increased costs, it's that if you ever quit paying, your software quits working.
    And the unknown is - what are those costs REALLY going to be in year 4, 5, 6, and so on? Nobody knows and Autodesk is not saying.
    Once they have you locked into RENTAL, they can more easily raise those costs and there is not much we can do about it.
    If 2020 they go up to $1500, and in 2021, it's $1750, and 2022, it's $2000 - then that 6 year total becomes $8550, not $6600

    What Autodesk is trying to do right now, is tell you that the $700 maintenance fee is going up (it is) and they are spinning the numbers to make it seem like it's a no-lose situation to switch to "subscription" (RENTAL) now.
    But ask them about the RENTAL fees in year 4, 5, 6, and beyond. You won't get an answer.
    Better yet, go read Steve's blog - he is much more informed about all this than me.

    That wasn't so short after all. Sorry.

    Here are two Autodesk hosted forums on the subject, where you can see how everyone ELSE feels about this too.
    1. Perpetual License Changes
    2. Moving To Subscription
    R.K. McSwain | CAD Panacea |

  4. #4
    Certifiable AUGI Addict cadtag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    In addition to the very good information from BB & RK, remember that there are other professional-grade CAD applications from other developers. I haven't worked in your field since '87, so am not up to speed on what's specifically available, from from a general DWG format based perspective there are several options, Graebert , Bricsys, various Intellicad packages. Leaving DWG behind there are others out there that I am less familiar with, but certainly worth investigating.

    So options are:
    1) Stay on maintenance and pay increased fees annually, until Adesk either abandons rental, goes solely cloud, or ceases the maintenance option.
    2) Migrate to Rental, and pay unpredictable fees until you can no longer afford it - at which point you're out of business.
    3) Cease paying maintenance, and wok with the current shipping version for N+1 many years, saving the money altogether
    4) Migrate to a non-Autodesk CAD package (after testing and due diligence)

    If it was my company and my bucks, I'd combine 3 & 4. (Actually, that's what I did at home... stopped paying Autodesk for my Map3d perpetual license, and paid for maintenance on Carlson Civil)
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    There's some downsides to this that are well covered. There's a few upsides as well. Make sure you are using correct terms - as noted by rkmcswain, "Maintenance" and "Subscription" are the same thing but "Subscription" for LICENSING is Desktop/rental model licensing.

    Ever been caught on the downslope of a boom/bust cycle with stack of licenses? You have to make a decision - keep up with maintenance so you can upgrade them later, or let it lapse and then have to pay an upgrade fee (or more recently, purchase new) if you want to use a newer version. The Desktop/rental model makes that a little easier - keep up to date on however many licenses you need now. Pick up additional licenses as you need them based on job schedules e.g. if getting more jobs is looking a little dicey and the current work is only projected for a couple of months, get some 1 or 3 month Subscription/rentals to cover the additional users. That works best for single-user (standalone) licensing, as the network licensing is only in 1/2/3 year increments (I gave a half-hearted try to promote a 6-month term but that quickly got pooh-poohed).

    Also makes it easier to manage out-of-office licenses (e.g. contractors, telecommuters). No need to work out VPN access/rights to a license server for network licenses, for example, as the licenses are managed over the internet on Autodesk's servers. Perpetual licenses had the Home Use License Agreement (HULA), but those would only expire after a year. If a worker is fired, or a contractor is only on a project for a month or two, there's no realistic way to force a return on that license. The Desktop/rental model provides some controls from the Subscription page allowing the Contract Admin to add/remove users at will. Once cut off the user will only have access to the license until their next checkup - a month at most.

    It can make billing a bit simpler as you aren't necessarily forecasting cost recovery split over many years, clients, and projects (and quite possibly getting it wrong if the market gets flushed). If you've got 3 people working on a project for 3 months, the cost of those Desktop/rentals can be put directly against that project. Again, that's more for the single-user licensing than large-scale network licensing.

    Network licensing is EXACTLY the same as before - users are still pointed at your network license server. They don't need to contact the Autodesk license server at all. You'll need to update your license files as the renewal period comes up of course. If you are on network licensing and are managing large numbers it's time to have a look at token licensing. Much the same as Desktop/rental model system for those with a consistent minimum number of users and potentially large swings in users.
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    Certified AUGI Addict rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    @dgorsman - all of the positive qualities of renting Autodesk software that you mention are perfectly valid, and have a place in the market. All most people are asking for is a choice, so they can choose between purchasing perpetual licenses or renting.

    Actually, for a limited time, customers did have a choice. Autodesk rolled out the ability to rent software several years ago, and it failed miserably. Customers overwhelming chose to keep purchasing perpetual licenses.

    The spin is hard to digest however. Autodesk says --> "Because managing two business models (subscription and maintenance plans) is costly, in order to continue supporting maintenance plans, beginning May 7, 2017, maintenance plan renewal prices will increase". --> So we ask, why burden your existing perpetual customers with this (claimed) increase in costs? Why not pass on these increases to the new rental customers who are now able to take advantage of the "greater value" in renting?

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  7. #7
    I could stop if I wanted to Steve Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    Because Autodesk completely changed the meaning of the word subscription a few years ago, there's a fair bit of confusion around. I wrote this post to clear that up:

    Clearing up the Autodesk rental / subscription / maintenance naming confusion

    @dgorsman - there are some non-obvious issues with subscription that differ a little from what you wrote and should be considered carefully.

    First, although there is a theoretical benefit in flexibility as your requirements go up and down, for existing perpetual license owners who switch over to subscription, that flexibility is illusory. There are currently roughly equal prices for subscription and maintenance for those people who give up their perpetual licenses. However, this is being presented as a ~60% "discount" (it's actually substantially more than that for network licenses because they are massively overpriced in the subscription model). So if you switch to subscription, decide you can do without that license for a year and then need it again, you'll find that "discount" is gone and you have to pay much higher prices for the same software. Up to 3 times higher. Permanently. And because you threw away your perpetual license, you can't just stop paying and keep using the software. So the reality is that there is no real flexibility. You're locked in by fear of the huge (and ongoing!) financial penalty that results if you drop out and come back in.

    Secondly, network licensing isn't exactly the same, there is a subtle difference. As your renewal date approaches, you'll find you can't borrow licenses beyond that date. So if you're travelling from August 31 to October 25 and need to borrow a license for your laptop, and your renewal is on October 15, you or your finance and/or IT people are going to need to pay your renewal early and install the new license codes before you borrow the license on August 31. If that doesn't happen, you're going to have to do without your software. This issue somewhat negates the "simplified billing" argument, particularly if the early payment required for full continuity of service falls in an earlier budgeting or tax period.

    Neither of these problems exists if you keep your perpetual license and keep maintaining it.
    Last edited by Steve Johnson; 2017-08-22 at 07:10 AM. Reason: typo

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    Member stu1037's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    I've just spent a lovely morning reading the delightful document titled "Important Updates on Maintenance Plans FAQ - Customers" combined with some AUGI posts, and some of Steve's great blog nauseum posts. *Thank you, Steve.* Seriously, reading them was cathartic enough that I can keep this post short, out of the "...somewhere to let off steam" thread, and reluctantly move forward.

    We will switch to subscription. We will do it now to take advantage of the lowest pricing, however artificially that pricing has been manipulated. I've seen a lot of people discuss BricsCAD and other AutoCAD alternatives. My question is for Revit.

    - Are there any real alternatives to Revit?

    Admittedly, I've done little research on the topic. We're a small company and we are too directly tied to the architecture firms that we consult. They all use Revit. Introducing the potential for file coordination issues is not something I want to add to the list of coordination issues. Improperly detached/shared models are enough of a pain.

    Thank you,
    Stu


    BTW, along with many other Americans, I've recently re-read 1984 for the first time in decades. That Maintenance Plan FAQ made me more than a little queasy. I kept thinking, "subscription does not mean Subscription. It has never meant Subscription. It has always meant subscription." ((shudder))
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  9. #9
    I could stop if I wanted to Steve Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Maintenance vx. Subscription

    You're welcome, Stu.

    Quote Originally Posted by stu1037 View Post
    I've seen a lot of people discuss BricsCAD and other AutoCAD alternatives. My question is for Revit.

    - Are there any real alternatives to Revit?
    BricsCAD has BIM, too. Unlike Autodesk with different products for CAD, BIM and parametric 3D mechanical design with different file formats and workflows, Bricsys uses a single application with a single format - DWG. There are different variants at different price points and with different parts enabled/disabled, but it's basically one product. From a customer point of view, there are big advantages to that approach.

    Whether it represents a real alternative for your BIM needs is something I'm not qualified to answer. I'll leave as an exercise for the reader.

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