Software Distribution is the process of making the software accessible to the end-users where it is needed, usually across the network. Delivering software across the network requires that an automated solution be present so that the distribution becomes free of any person’s intervention. Having an automated solution allows administrators to control and manage access to the software remotely.
The distribution of software process requires that instant and quick information be maintained with the software producer, facilitators, shipment, and finally with the end-user. This communication is not easy to maintain, and more than that the situation becomes complex when the software users are present across varying geographical locations. This adds an extra layer of complexity since the rules and regulations are different in each country.
Software Distribution Models
The on-premises distribution approach refers to the software installed within the organization’s infrastructure. This means that the vendor installed and configures the software inside the local servers.
Cloud-based distribution brings the user out of the realm of the boundaries. Now distribution can happen over the internet and can be accessed from anywhere.
Both the models have their pros and cons. On-Premises is secure and you have control over your resources but it’s also expensive. The cloud-based model however is cheaper but is not within your control.
The software distribution platform is a vital piece of the software industry as can be understood from this article. But what constitutes an effective software distribution platform? Below we look at it.
Also, have a look at The Peculiarities of Custom Software Development for a Healthcare Sector
Salient Features of Software Distribution Platform
The first step where this process starts is the processing of orders. Order management is very critical as it defines the starting point of the software acquisition process. For the end-user, if this stage is not seamless, it can divert the user away.
The software can be ordered from e-commerce sites, online requests, and more. Software distribution platform should be able to allow ordering of software from all the channels, collect and log data and modification and even cancellation of orders.
Finally, in many scenarios, there is a bidding process involved where the end-users are provided quotes based on their past relationship with the software development firms or even the existing software stack the end-user may have.
Order processing should also allow the specific features to be turned off or on upon the user’s preference.
Version Controlling and License Management
Every software has a version. These versions are tags that specify what this software carries with itself. Software developers specify versions indicating what features this software delivery contains. Similarly, if any bugs or issues are resolved, the software is versioned then as well.
Software distribution platform should allow for the selection of versioning, and maintaining the order and log of the software.
With version controlling, the software distribution platform should also allow inventory controlling so that the software pieces are monitored for all of their activities.
Every software comes with a license that specifies what the end-user can do with it. Software distribution platforms should be able to manage these licenses.
Software distribution is neither an easy process nor a cheap process. Deployment of Software distribution platform For the software distributor it is vital that a complete view of the costs and the inward and outward flow of cash is monitored.
For the software distribution platform, it is very necessary to provide options for auditing, and conciliation billing capabilities for the process.
The software can have an audience all over the world. Hence for the producer of software, there can be local as well as global software distributors. Distributors have a capacity that can be exhausted.
This problem is solved by having multiple distributors. These different distributors can serve different geographical locations as well as the bridge between different distributors. If one distributor goes down, the supply chain brings to a dead end.
Hence a software distribution platform needs to be robust and free from errors. It should also facilitate communication between software developers and different distributors.
Every process has KPIs that determine the overall progress of the software. KPIs allow us to measure the overall process and identify the spots which need improvement.
But having KPIs is one part of the story. We also need to visualize the measurements of these KPIs so that monitors can take quick action.
Software distribution platforms should have visualization options for the dashboards for knowing the progress at a glance.
It must have forecasting options so that the operators can know in advance how many orders are going to be placed, next month and after three months and so on.
Having forecast options can also allow better business management since cash flows can be known in advance.
Software distributors don’t have just one system. They can have multiple systems. These systems may be for warehousing, cash flows, sales and accounting, and so on.
The software distribution platform should be able to integrate with other systems and ERPs. This can extend the overall functionality of the system and improve efficiency.
This integration can happen through APIs (REST or SOAP), or even file-based operations. If the integration points are not present, this can become a bottleneck in the longer run.
If you are getting two systems, one cheaper but without extension support, and one with extension support, always go for extension support.