You named your products "Good, Better and Best?" What were you thinking?

“That’s not going to fly with Enterprise customers.” “Are you really serious?” “Funny … but really, what are the names you’re going to market with?” “I’m not presenting these to my customer. They’re too simple.” And that’s when I knew we’d gotten it right. After all, the objective for licensing is to make it simple. 
Why make it simple? Product licensing is one of those things no one likes or really understands. IDC Research Survey Report (sponsored by Flexera Software) on Software Licensing showed that 85% of organizations were found to be out of compliance with their software license agreements, worse 37% were audited by their software vendors in the last 18-24 months, and 56% were handed true-up bills (21% for a million dollars or more…yuck!). The goals of a license should be to make it easy for customers to know what they’ve got. Make sure they can leverage it to get real business value from their investment. 
I’ve never met a customer that really wanted to be out of compliance or a sales rep that wanted to hand a true-up bill to their customer. I’ve been part of this conversation in the past and I’m not looking forward to it happening again. Complex licensing requirements make it hard to build a trustworthy relationship and they often slow down decision making. Most of the time no one really understood the pages and pages of fine print. It’s not simple and it’s not good business.
How do you come up with a licensing model that’s easy for everyone to understand? Make them simple! And what better way to show simple? Give them the simplest names you can think of …. Good Better and Best or GBB. You don’t need to know the product to know that Better is better than Good and Best is, well the best.
But simple naming isn’t enough.  The licensing  model itself really needs to be simple. F5, with its many different hardware platforms, software modules and various virtual edition options meant a dizzying combination of licensing options (over 1100 SKUs) that required customers to not only know exactly what they needed right now but to anticipate the need for services like web app security or identity and access management for a new app that hadn’t even been developed yet. Today, even though there are even more modules and hardware platforms available, there are a smaller number of licensing options (fewer than 100 SKUs) and customers receive the luxury of  being able to take advantage of services they need today to keep their applications fast, secure and available as well as those they might need tomorrow or next month.  Licensing for them has become as simple as Good, Better and Best. 
This is what GBB looks like:

What I like about simple is it gives customer confidence. Confidence to use your products broadly. Confidence to simplify their IT environments. Confidence to right size their investments.  After a year of selling with GBB, Customer have spoken. We’re seeing broad adoption of F5’s complete suite of capabilities. Customer are future proofing and adding Security Services to their applications. Customers are saving money.
Would we name the products Good, Better and Best again?  Yes, but now we’ve got a new problem. How do you make Best even better … Bester? In my next Blog I’ll talk about the latest steps we’re taking to ensure we keep it simple as customers move their applications to the cloud. 

Published Mar 13, 2015
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  • The fundamental problem I have with this branding is that you are using the term Good, Better, Best to describe how many F5 products a customer purchases. In other words, It's good that a customer buys LTM. It's better when they buy Advanced Firewall services, and it is best when they buy APM and ASM. Depending on your use case, APM and ASM may not have any value.
  • when will the licensing be decoupled from the physical (or virtual) machines? No reason why my APM license (and better, my CCU licenses) are bound to my physical appliances. At least, in the days of virtualized DC...
  • Thanks for your feedback, Brian. GBB is really about the economy of scale. That “best” is “best value” in that it reduces the cost per service available in a way that makes it possible to offer more services to more applications. The intention behind the use of the terminology was to refer to the value inherent in the model and the economy of scale it brings to application services. By being inclusive of good and better, ‘best’ brings the best economy of scale to the table and enables more applications to take advantage services that they may benefit from or need, but were previously unable to acquire because of budget constraints. It definitely was not intended to be interpreted as a judgment on the customer's decision, which of course has to be based on a number of variables that are unique to every customer and its environment.