PLCnext is the industrial automation ecosystem combining hardware, engineering software, and a digital marketplace created by Phoenix Contact, the German automation specialists. Working under its hood, Wibu-Systems’ popular CodeMeter technology makes much of this possible with its award-winning protection and smart licensing capabilities.
Wibu-Systems from Karlsruhe had already teamed up in 2017 with its northern German partners at Phoenix Contact to integrate its protection solution in the company’s sophisticated automation engineering software PLCnext Engineer, protecting the invaluable IP of both Phoenix Contact and the users of its platform. Now, both companies decided to take this partnership to a new level to create the new and holistically designed PLCnext experience: A combined hardware and software ecosystem for industrial controllers and automation equipment, paired with a uniquely open software system to run Phoenix Contact’s own or third-party applications on the company’s hardware. The backbone of this new ecosystem is the PLCnext Store, a marketplace for automation software that was made possible with CodeMeter’s tough protection and versatile licensing capabilities.
The PLCnext Store was deliberately designed in a user-friendly Appstore format to lower the entry threshold for first-time users and ensure a more comfortable user experience for clients that were already used to conventional industrial automation software. Users can go to the Store and buy licenses for complete applications or individual functionalities or features of their PLCnext hardware, letting them fashion their automation setup to match the needs and specifications on the ground with exceptional flexibility. Everything was built to work perfectly in the wider PLCnext ecosystem, taking away potential concerns about compatibility issues.
The PLCnext Store is an example of what we are all about at Wibu-Systems: Unbeatable encryption, tough IP protection, and a choice of licensing models that let you shape your business model to your liking – and all of that in a seamless integration into a holistic hardware, software, and service ecosystemStefan Bamberg, Senior Key Account, Wibu-Systems
One particularly attractive aspect of the PLCnext Store and the ecosystem at large is its openness: It is not restricted to Phoenix Contact’s own software range, but acts as a channel for third-party developers as well. Developers can upload their products to the Store for distribution through the PLCnext user base. Here, Phoenix Contact’s partnership with Wibu-Systems comes into its own: The inclusion of CodeMeter protection and licensing capabilities means that the entire process is as unobtrusive and smooth as possible for developers.
When adding their software to the Store, developers automatically benefit from CodeMeter encryption, as their work is protected to safeguard the intellectual assets they invested in it. They can then pick the licensing options and pricing to suit their business model, and the CodeMeter-empowered PLCnext Store takes care of distributing their products according to their chosen strategy and specifications. Trial licenses are also available to let users test-run their chosen automation software before making the full purchase. Regional restrictions can be set and enforced by the CodeMeter licensing system to avoid any concerns about export bans or simply to stay in control of which market to grow and expand. The available license models are as versatile and granular as they can be, down to the ability to license individual machine features separately. And after the user has made their purchase, the developer can rest assured that the software will only run with the right license, on the right Phoenix Contact hardware, and with their know-how secure wherever it is at work.
For Phoenix Contact, the choice of CodeMeter was not only due to its exceptional and award-winning IP protection capabilities. A particularly attractive feature was its easy integration into existing systems. Built to work with most CRM, ERP, and e-commerce systems, CodeMeter could easily be built right into the existing Phoenix Contact back office landscape. The protection, licensing, and later license management processes, including updates, are neatly integrated with the complete order management, distribution, and billing setup, not only avoiding any disruption to Phoenix Contact’s service infrastructure, but even levelling it up with its extensive automation and self-service capabilities that make offering, selling, and keeping track of software licenses easier than ever for both seller and buyer.
Daniel Buschatzky, Technology Manager, PLCnext Technology, Phoenix Contact Electronics explained: “CodeMeter has already been an integral part of the Phoenix Contact software development and distribution process for many years, and it was the right choice again to provide the protection and licensing backbone of our PLCnext Store. It gives us and our third-party developers great peace of mind, as we know that our IP can make its way into the world without worrying about theft or reverse engineering.”
For Stefan Bamberg, Senior Key Account at Wibu-Systems, the cooperation with Phoenix Contact was a case study of what CodeMeter can do for business: “The PLCnext Store is an example of what we are all about at Wibu-Systems: Unbeatable encryption, tough IP protection, and a choice of licensing models that let you shape your business model to your liking – and all of that in a seamless integration into a holistic hardware, software, and service ecosystem.”