What happens when a vendor and a distributor rethink software distribution? You get the Trend Micro Usage-based Licensing Program, a new method for solution providers to buy and resell security software.

Trend Micro and Ingram Micro have developed a new sales program based on a pay-as-you-go model. Simply put, solution providers can buy a block of licenses and then pay for those licenses monthly and only have to pay for the licenses that are in use.

This translates to an instant managed-services solution for solution providers to push out to their customers. Almost all Trend Micro security products are covered under the new program, and solution providers need to do little more than sign a resale agreement with Ingram Micro to get started.

The new program offers several advantages for solution providers, ranging from reduced start-up costs to recurring revenues. The idea here is for partners to sell monthly per-seat licenses into their client accounts, usually as part of a larger support solution or bundle. The program shifts security software purchases from a capital expense over to an operating expense. Customers will know exactly how much security costs them per desktop every month and can budget accordingly, while solution providers can predict how much income they will garner per month.

While per-seat, per-month billing schemes are nothing new to the channel, the usage-based licensing program does offer a unique feature: the ability to “turn on” or “turn off” licenses. Basically, solution providers inform Ingram Micro monthly as to which licenses are active, and Ingram Micro bills the solution provider accordingly.

It is then up to the solution provider to bill its customers for the software license. That allows solution providers to set their own pricing and experience margins as high as 90 percent on a recurring basis. If the end customer drops out, the solution provider simply shuts off the license through Ingram Micro. The solution provider is no longer billed for that license and security updates are turned off for the customer, rendering the product useless.

All of the software is delivered electronically, with solution providers downloading license keys and then installing the associated products and licenses at customer sites. Solution providers have the option of installing the software for their clients, letting clients self-install or a combination of both. Extra revenues can be had from the installation process if desired.

For most solution providers dipping their toes into a managed-services environment, the Trend Micro Usage-based Licensing Program offers a great way to get started. For those already offering managed services, the licensing program offers a way to bundle extra services and then bill accordingly.

The program covers more than 400 product SKUs and offers impressive flexibility. Solution providers can mix and match security products to build custom levels of protection for their customers. What’s more, adding services consists of little more than downloading the associated product key and installing the additional software to their clients’ systems.

Trend Micro and Ingram Micro may very well have pulled off a marketing coup with the introduction of this program. The companies have partnered to take what was once an increasingly complex system of selling software and have brought simplicity to the process while still offering a common-sense approach to billing for only what is used.