Michael Carnes from Exponential Audio has just sent an email to all his users and with his permission I am publishing here in full…
I’m sure you’re aware of the terrible job that PACE has done in rolling out their new iLok software. Many users have temporarily lost licenses for various plugins, and clients have walked away in some cases. We developers have been hit by this as well. People are afraid to purchase and the blogosphere is pretty harsh at the moment. Many of you are more than a little unhappy, and all of you are uncertain. So I’m going to tell you what I know.
PACE has been working on new iLok code for many months. There are really two pieces to this. There’s a new driver as well as some improvements to the way we developers can wrap and protect our code. I’ve been working with beta versions for nearly a year. Then there’s the new License Manager—the piece that you directly experience. This is the piece of code that allows you to redeem licenses, and to move licenses between iLoks. PACE chose to roll out all of this at the same time. In hindsight, this was not the best move on their part.
I believe the new iLok driver and new wrapper are real improvements, and my experience of the last several months gives me reason to believe they’re stable. I also think the new License Manager provides a much easier way to deal with iLoks. Of course, people have a very bad taste in their mouths about this right now. From everything I can see, the cause of most of the trouble over the last week has been with the PACE servers—the internet-based system that communicates between your computer and the PACE database. I’ve received communications from PACE several times in the last few days. Usually these are sent in the late hours. The Pace engineers are working nearly around the clock, and they’ve put every other employee to work dealing with service tickets. They are also working directly with IBM. It’s probably not much fun to be at PACE right now.
Many users make suggestions about using other types of protection, such as eLicenser or some other sort of web-based authorization. They are equally vulnerable: this problem just hit PACE first. More than anything, I believe this is a classic example of scaling. Something that works beautifully in a test environment then fails when scaled up a thousand-fold. Knowing that fact doesn’t make this experience any easier, but it once again demonstrates just how hard this is to do. The technical staff at PACE are more than capable. This was a failure of planning on their part. I believe that we developers are going to demand greater accountability from PACE in the future. I will of course consider all options for Exponential Audio. But reactive decisions are usually the worst decisions. In the short run, this problem will be resolved. My choices (and those of other developers) will be driven in large part by the steps that PACE takes in restructuring the way they provide their service. To be clear, I do believe steps are necessary. I have communicated some of this to PACE, and I will communicate with other developers as well.
I should tell you that I receive automatic emails from PACE whenever a license code is redeemed. That allows me to know when paid licenses or demo licenses are redeemed, meaning a successful use of the PACE License Manager. I haven’t seen much difference in the rate of transactions. To me, that is an indication that most customers are able to work successfully. PACE has provided a number of helpful steps on iLok.com to help users restore licenses and to use the service. I do hope that the License Manager soon becomes what it’s supposed to be—a smooth and easy way to manage iLoks. But for now, I recommend that you follow the PACE instructions carefully.
In closing, let me say that I am sorry if you’ve experienced difficulties. I will work with you and I’ll also speak on your behalf. Thank you for your faith in Exponential Audio.
Thank you Michael for this considered statement. I for one appreciate your analysis of scale and consideration of the alternatives.