February 2018 -  Gilles GOULAY


First thing first, what is the real added value of software maintenance

What about the maintenance of software acquired on the secondary market? What maintenance solutions are available?

Before discussing a suitable maintenance system, it is necessary to consider the needs for services and the alternative available solutions.

Maintenance as defined by publishers generally covers two types of services: 

  • Corrective maintenance or support: correction of bugs, patch supplies, … 
  • Upgrade maintenance: right to deploy new releases and / or versions of software.

Considering the costs, the age of the version and the life cycle of the applications that exploit these licenses, the systematic use of the access to upgrades or even support is subject to discussions, especially for companies with technical teams whose skills are equivalent to the level 1 and 2 editor support.

In addition, the acquisition of software licenses from the secondary market is mainly to complement an existing infrastructure. If the pre-existing equipment is covered by a maintenance program, the terms of the relevant contract should be examined. Indeed, the provider may impose rules that govern the maintenance rules for all licenses that come from the same publisher. 

Maintenance-free software

For some highly standardized solutions, and for which the technical expertise acquired by the company is sufficient, to run the software without maintenance can be considered.

In this category of products, the offers of publishers like Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft are clearly positioned in this area.

Like Microsoft, publishers make free and automatically available patches and updates to their licensed customers for the correct operation of the software.

Reactivating maintenance from publishers

For the most complex software, or those with a life cycle and use in the longer term, the use of application and upgrade maintenance is essential.

The simplest solution in these cases is the reactivation of maintenance with the publisher. This solution makes it possible, among other things, to benefit from the version upgrades, to take advantage of possible guarantees from the publishers, and establishes a commercial relationship for the continuation of the relationship.

The publisher does not have the right to refuse such reactivation : the refusal to sell in the event of a dominant position consists of a reprehensible infringement by competition law. 

Independant third-party maintenance provider

New players have emerged, positioning themselves as third-party maintainers who can substitute for publishers. Their offerings differ from those of publishers, since they do not have the capacity to offer the version evolutions. However, they emphasize the quality and responsiveness of technical support services. By offering very low maintenance rates to those of publishers, they offer services that can be better suited to the expectations of user companies.

These maintenance service providers are generally specialized by publisher and their scope of services for the same family of products may be different. Consequently, they should be consulted prior to the acquisition of a license on the secondary market, this will make it possible to direct the choice to the most appropriate maintenance formula, if it is imperative, and to anticipate the TCO (Total cost of ownership).

About the Author


is the COO of Softcorner. Gilles got a Computer Science Master’s degree at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris 6. He started his career in the R&D department of Philips Data Systems. Then he worked successively for three major software vendors: Datapoint, Filenet and EMC² where he moved gradually from pre-sales consultant to international sales management positions.

This career provided him a wide sales management experience, including direct sales with big accounts and international channel management, as well as a good knowledge of the software vendor practices. In 2013, observing the maturity of the software market, he decided to take advantage from his background and joined Softcorner as an associate.