The shift toward user-based licensing is creating new challenges for universities. For universities using the integrated SWITCH edu-ID, SWITCHhub offers considerable improvements and control mechanisms, all from a single source.
Software licensing is a fundamentally complex undertaking. For universities, this complexity increases exponentially. There is such a multitude of use cases that it is difficult or even impossible to cover all of them with a standard license agreement. This is where SWITCHprocure comes in; it has been helping Swiss universities and negotiating framework agreements with the biggest software makers, such as Microsoft and Adobe, since 2012.
Compliance issues notwithstanding, the rollout and distribution of the software can cause headaches. Many commercial software makers are following the trend toward user-based licensing. In concrete terms, this licensing model is normally managed using a vendor-specific console. The software itself can usually be installed on multiple devices, while the actual users have to verify their identities using a log-in mechanism. Adobe is a pioneer in this regard. Products in the Creative Cloud (CC) 2019 suite are only available with user-based licensing. Anyone unwilling or unable to switch to this licensing model must continue using the previous version (CC 2018).
Consider the large number of vendors on the market, and users at a university, and the complexity of user-based licensing is soon clear. SWITCHhub is designed to solve this problem. It serves, among other things, as a central marketplace for commercial, academic, and SWITCH services at universities. In late 2018, SWITCH committed to creating a centralised software distribution system through SWITCHhub. A lot has happened since then. A solution has already been implemented specifically for Adobe licensing.
Single sign-on (SSO) with the SWITCH edu-ID is already available for SWITCHhub. This means that users are authenticated directly when they log into SWITCHhub. The end user can then obtain a Creative Cloud or Acrobat license in the catalogue. The SWITCHhub administrator at the university can decide in advance which group of users is allowed to access it. A connector between SWITCHhub and the Adobe Admin console controls the synchronisation of user licenses. With a SAML proxy, which is registered one time only in the console, users then use their SWITCH edu-ID account and the corresponding SSO login to access their Adobe licenses. It is up to the universities whether they distribute the software centrally via a managed software package or let users manage the software themselves.
This makes Adobe the first commercial service to operate on SWITCHhub. The initial testing phase is already complete. Since March, all SWITCH employees have been able to obtain their own user-based Adobe licenses via SWITCHhub. The next phase will be to set up a separate SWITCHhub store and the Adobe integration for a test university. Interested universities are welcome to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.