A guide to IBM SPSS licence types

IBM SPSS Advanced Analytical Products, including IBM SPSS Statistics and IBM SPSS Modeler, can be implemented and licensed in different ways.  How your organisation licenses and implements these tools will depend on its requirements.  This page explains the options.

Client licence types

The client (i.e. desktop) versions of both the Statistics and Modeler product lines are licenced in one of two ways. The difference between the two is to do with who can use the software.

1. Authorised user licences

An authorised user licence is tied to a specific named individual and is for their exclusive use. It can be installed on both a desktop and a laptop computer but can only be used by that specific named individual. This form of licence is also known as a standalone licence or a named user licence. You can buy multiple single user licences for deployment throghout your organsiation.

2. Concurrent user licences

Concurrent user licences allow anyone in the organisation to use the product but stipulate the maximum number of people who can use it at any one time. For example, a two-user licence means two people can both be using the software but if a third person attempts to access, they will be refused until one of the first two people logs out. A licence manager application is installed centrally to control this access. This type of licence is also known as a network licence.

Which of these options you choose will be influenced by the characteristics of your team.

·         Depends on whether you have full time or part time users

·         Depends on the size of your team

·         Depends on if you have concurrently running projects or one off busy times

Client or client/server installation?

Local client installation

SPSS products are ‘fat client’ software products. This means that you can install a version locally on any individual user’s computer (often referred to as the client machine) and that user can then access data on that computer (for example as a flat file or a range of flat files) as well as data that resides in any other location to which the user can connect their computer (for example a network drive or using database connectivity protocols such as ODBC).

For many applications the local (client) install option will cater for all your analytical requirements. However there are also situations where an organisation may require different software set up.  This is often where an organisation may consider using client/server architecture.

Client/server installation

In this configuration the local client install of IBM SPSS (Statistics, Modeler or both) will connect to a copy of the equivalent software that is designed to run on a server.  The server is just another computer on your organisation’s network (likely to be of a higher specification with more processing and storage capacity than a typical client machine) to which multiple client machines can potentially connect.

Which option is right for me?

Whether you go for a local client installation or a client/server installation depends on the way in which you intend to use SPSS and what type of analysis you’ll be performing. Whether you need it really depends on the data volumes you wish to analyse. It is not likely that you will need it if you are analysing small samples of data, however a server licence will improve your productivity if you are analysing  large data files or running analysis directly against a data warehouse or data mart.  Bear in mind that it is often the width of a file (how many variables) you have rather than the length (how many records) which influences processing times as well as the types of procedure you are likely to run. In general you will probably find the client/server option more suited to your needs in the following kinds of situations:

  • If you need to analyse large volumes of your organisation’s data (large numbers of variable and many rows) or are performing particularly complex analysis requiring a high degree of processing power to be able to run.
  • If you’re running data management and manipulation tasks using structured query language (SQL) – Modeler Server can request that SQL is run within the database, offering another approach to making the whole process more scalable.
  • If you need to make use of the processing capacity of the ‘database tier’ of your organisation’s IT infrastructure. Often a company’s databases or datawarehouse will run on large and powerful dedicated servers.  Increasingly database software includes modelling algorithms. Modeler Server can leverage this database capability through a technique called ‘in database mining’.  In this context the model building can be run inside the database where processing can be completed even more quickly.
  • If you need to run scheduled batch and automated processes, such as having a whole analytical process run overnight when lots of processing capacity is available.

What is the cost of a client/server installation?

The cost  of a client/server installation of SPSS Statistics or Modeler is influenced by two elements:

  1. The cost of the client licenses – this is a number of users who will be using the client software.
  2.  The cost of the server license – this cost is calculated on the processing capacity of the server (or virtual server) that you intend SPSS to run on. The basic principle is that the more powerful the server, the more you would need to pay for the server license.

Licence length

In addition to considering whether to go for the client or client/server option, you also need to think about what kind of licence you’ll need.

Perpetual licence

Under the terms of a perpetual licence you pay a single one-off fee. This covers the cost of the software and your first year’s maintenance. At the end of the year you can opt to renew your maintenance contract if you wish, or you can let it lapse. You then have access to the software in perpetuity, but you will not have access to support, maintenance or upgrades and patches.

Fixed 12 Month Term

It is also possible to purchase a license entitlement over a fixed 12 month term.  This would provide your organisation with 12 months’ access to the licenses you have purchased.  After the 12 month license period has elapsed the software will no longer be accessible, unless the license term has been renewed. No data or other related assets would be lost or destroyed in the case of non-renewal of a fixed term license; but you wouldn’t be able to access the software anymore.

SaaS – Software as a Service

IBM SPSS Modeler Gold is available via hosted delivery.  This means that you can access it via the internet through a web browser. This has the advantage of not requiring any local install. SaaS delivery is similar to a rental license type.  The minimum term for a SaaS license is three consecutive months.