Exploring Licensing Options for Bentley Software

So, you have decided to make an investment in Bentley software. You think you know which application you want to use – but which license model is best for you?

As many of you will know, unlike with most other software vendors with Bentley Systems you have a choice. But choice can be confusing, so let us explain your options and also share which licensing model is the best fit for your circumstances.

Why is this important?

Each license model serves the needs of a particular client, community or project and considers several factors. For example, choice of application, length of need, whether it is a solution that is used every day or at key points on the project lifecycle. Does everyone need their own license, or it can be a shared resource across a project team?

Other factors that affect your choice include budget, cashflow, length of time you have been in business and your perception of what the future looks like.

With all these factors to consider, how do you decide?

At Cadventure, we spend a lot of time helping clients choose or switch how they license their software.

The best and only advice is to talk to us; someone who knows or wants to understand your business, its drivers and your short to long term strategy. The team at Cadventure will have a business conversation with you about all your software needs – what they are right now, how they might change and can help you arrive at a solution that is best fit for your business. The more we understand about your current situation and your needs, the easier it will be to unlock the value of your new investment. Sometimes there are purchase incentives, for example, if you are switching from other software, so let us help.

Let us look at the options in order of popularity:

  1. 12-month Subscription Licenses

A new offering from Bentley Systems that we are pleased to bring you are annual subscription licenses. Available across almost all Bentley applications, these were introduced in May 2020 to provide for annual based budgets. These are now the fastest-growing licensing option for Bentley software and are available world-wide.

Also known as Virtuoso subscriptions, these are named-user licenses for specific applications that can be ordered and delivered through our online store.

They come with a simplified user license agreement that you simply click and accept, put in your credit card details, or agree to pay by Direct Debit and you are good to go.

These are great for start-ups, project-based requirements, or clients familiar with annual subscriptions from other software providers who are looking for the same.

Each application also comes with “keys.” Keys can be exchanged for online training or “get you started” mentoring so you are not on your own. These are single-user licenses but can be transferred to other team members once a month. They last for 12 months and automatically renew, so you will always have continuity of access, whilst leaving you in control.

Virtuoso subscriptions are great to get you started, help you transition from one software platform to another and to manage a short-term project requirement.

They are best for project-related expenditure and for applications that are used periodically. Also, this is a good solution when cashflow is tight, circumstances are changing, or flexibility is required.

  • Perpetual licenses with SELECT

This is the traditional means of licensing your software. This is a purchase of an asset alongside an annual SELECT support agreement. Perpetual licenses remain a popular choice and work best for you if you can see a two to three-year or a long-term requirement for a design solution that you will use every day.

Compared with other annual subscription models, perpetual licenses quickly start to stack up a return on investment as a capital asset, once you have made your initial purchase, the only additional annual costs are your SELECT subscription.

Available as an optional extra, SELECT subscription that is purchased alongside a perpetual license. It offers several benefits, not least the ability to license your software on unlimited devices, 24/7/365 technical support and software upgrades as they become available. SELECT is better than just an insurance as it offers practical benefits and network license flexibility when managing your licenses. When you need that technical support, you know you will be at the front of the queue.

For many practices or extended project requirements this perpetual license model will be the backbone of your software investment.

If you are new to Bentley software, you can also start small and trade-up. For example, if you start with MicroStation, when you are ready to embrace OpenBuildings for BIM (Building Information Modelling), you simply purchase an upgrade. The only cost is the difference in price between the application you have and the one you would like to change to plus the additional SELECT subscription.

With SELECT you can also switch your software, using the portfolio balance option Once a year you have the chance to rebalance your portfolio, based on your current software needs. No other software provider has this option and it de-risks the decision of what to buy.

Both 12-month subscriptions and perpetual licenses with SELECT are available to buy online via our webstore.

Rental Options

If you are not ready to make this commitment to perpetual licenses OR want some access to a range of software applications that you may not need long term, Bentley Systems offer a couple of rental options.

  1. Cloud Services Subscription – also known as CSS

This license model is ideal for project-related expenditure or where there is some degree of uncertainty or flexibility that is required. It also works well when there is a need to access multiple applications that support the design process, which are either not used every day, or only needed for a specific time frame.

It is a great way to access a much wider portfolio of Bentley solutions without the commitment of purchasing a perpetual license. It also puts flexibility and control in the hands of the Project or BIM Manager without the need to raise another purchase order when a new application is required.

It also allows you to cross-charge your project teams or project partners for the costs of the software they need to complete their project.

A Cloud Service subscription can be quickly set up and can be used to access the whole of the Bentley portfolio, on demand.

For access to some applications, for example ProjectWise, this is the only way that you can access this software.

Think of your Cloud Service subscription fund as like a London Transport Oyster card with a credit balance. You only incur a charge when the software is used. To access this license model, you set up an account with Bentley Systems and agree an initial commitment. We will advise you about what this should be based on the applications that you plan to use over the next 12 months. There is an initial threshold of £4100+VAT.

Thereafter, you use the software of your choice each month and receive a VAT invoice (that has already been paid by your CSS). You can always see how much of your CSS you have spent and how much is remaining on your quarterly statements.

Once your fund is approaching zero, together we look at your usage over the previous six months, discuss your software requirements over the next twelve months and agree the recommended replenishment amount. Importantly, this is not a use or lose payment scheme. If your project requirements dictate and the funds are depleted more quickly than planned, you simply top up earlier. Importantly, the balance sits in your CSS until you need to use it and never expires.

  • E365

To complete the story, E365 is the latest version of an Enterprise License Subscription (ELS). This is a bespoke fixed-priced annual solution comprising, software and dedicated Account management, with success plans and service credits tailored to the needs of your business. This is designed for large-scale enterprises usually (but not always) with a global footprint.

There are three levels of E365 – Global, Standard and Essentials.

The recently added E365 Essentials subscription is now available as a software only option for smaller accounts with an annually agreed investment based on the previous years’ usage.

Importantly, your investment in Bentley technology is likely to be significant on an annual basis as E365 is only available to clients planning to spend over a certain threshold.

License TypeBest for
Perpetual Licenses with SELECTBest for software in constant use with a time horizon of two to three years or longer
Cloud Service SubscriptionThis is the “Oyster card” option, which is best, either on its own or in addition to perpetual licenses to manage the requirement for multiple applications and changing needs over the next 12 months or the lifetime of the project.
12-month Virtuoso subscriptionsExcellent for start-ups where initial cost is key, simplified, and fast access is required. These licenses are great for clients familiar with other 12-month subscription offerings who like to budget annually. These also work well alongside core ownership of perpetual licenses and SELECT
E365Ideally suited to larger-scale Bentley Systems users, often these are global organisations, with significant budgets. With the advantage of annual fixed costs and available at three levels, E365 agreements come with a combination of wrap-around services including success planning and service credits to ensure you get your return on investment.

Can I have them all?

In short – yes! It The reason that Bentley Systems offer multiple licensing models is that they recognise that one size does not fit all.

There is often a core of perpetual licenses and SELECT alongside a Cloud Service subscription for project-related requirements and short-term peak usage. 12-month subscriptions are increasingly an entry point for Bentley software or part of the mix for specific requirements.This is why you have a better choice with Bentley Systems. So please talk to us about your circumstances as we are here to help.