FAQ

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What is Cetrus?

Cetrus provides a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that enables monitoring desktop software use. We develop solutions to help businesses increase revenue, lower their license costs and increase business efficiency.

For small – large enterprises, Cetrus provides Process Meter, which enables them to monitor any desktop application at the point of use regardless of where the license comes from. Desktop centric monitoring allows Process Meter to both monitor more application types – standalone applications, license-metered applications or cloud-licensed applications -but it also provides more discrete use and attribute information than other monitoring approaches.

Project-oriented service firms such as engineering or construction firms that want to move software use on projects from overhead to a billable deliverable can Cetrus’ Expense-2-Project (E2P). E2P lets engineers and architects associate application use to a project to move software cost from project overhead to reimbursable billing.

Desktop Application Developers can implement Application Meter, an embeddable solution to understand application use. Combined with additional Cetrus functionality, such as Cetrus’ Revenue Manager, ISV’s can monitor application use from a trial download, allow rental or subscription procurement options, and charge for use via an integrated ecommerce credit card billing application.

Enterprise

What does Process Meter monitor?

Process Meter monitors application use in real-time. Agents “listen” for designated applications to launch, and then record session information, such as when applications are launched, when the window is moved from foreground to background and back, and when they are closed. Process Meter monitors application executable files or equivalents running on workstations and servers. It does not record individual mouse movements or keystrokes.

What information does Process Meter provide?

The information Process Meter’s provides can be segmented by function:

  • Agents provide session status information such as what application was launched and when the application is Active, Inactive/Idle or Logged off. (See also What is the difference between Active, Inactive/Idle and Timed Out time metrics?). They also report who the user is, PC serial number, etc.
  • Agents provide session status information such as what application was launched and when the application is Active, Inactive/Idle or Logged off. (See also What is the difference between Active, Inactive/Idle and Timed Out time metrics?). They also report who the user is, PC serial number, etc.
  • The Software Plugin reads the user’s PC Registry and reports on the applications resident on it, such as vendor name, application title, version, upgrade status and history, etc. (See also What information does the Inventory Reader provide?)
  • The Hardware Plugin reads the user’s PC Registry to get information on how much memory is on the workstation, how much disk space is available, what kind of video card is installed, etc. (See also What information does the Inventory Reader provide?)
How is Process Meter different from other application use reporting tools?

Reporting tools differ in where they get their information from, and where the information gathering process resides.

Reporting solutions which read license server logs can provide only information available through the log files. They cannot provide information on applications whose licenses do not come from license servers. Log file readers cannot provide information on user activity between when a license was checked out and when it was returned. To add this kind of information requires those providers to add an agent to gather the additional information, creating a complex environment not designed for scalability or ease of administration.

Solutions which monitor keyboard and CPU levels to determine activity can’t identify where the license came from or other application attributes, making them ineffective for comparative reporting.

Asset Management applications report on where application licenses reside, and what entitlements are associated with what licenses, but they don’t provide information which helps with concurrency or relative use.

What is the Process Meter architecture?

Process Meter consists of three component layers: Agents, Managers, and the Software-as-Service platform. Agents reside on workstations/Servers being monitored. Applications the enterprise wants to monitor are listed in Agent-specific configuration files. Plugins install on Agents to provide specific functionality, such as reading the workstation/server’s inventory, or associating application use to a project for billing. Agents “listen” for when applications are launched, and record state changes, such as when the window the application is presented in is moved to the background, the user stops inputting data, or is closed.

State change and Plugin generated information is passed to the Manager, where it is temporarily cached. The Managers periodically batch use data to the Platform. Managers also hold configuration files for all the Agents they are responsible for, as well as the most current versions of Agents and Plugins for easy updating or recovery.

The Platform is a multi-tenant database which aggregates data for reporting. In addition, the Platform also provides administrative functionality for users and applications. Reporting and visualization is delivered via a BI/Analytic engine.

What are the benefits of a 3-Tier architecture?

3-Tier architectures enable organizations to implement software to match their topology. Functionality is deployed closest to where it needs to be, such as Agents on desktops where application use occurs. Managers consolidate data within an office, and batch it up at pre-specified times, minimizing consumption of expensive communications lines. Data is aggregated for reporting in a multi-tenant database. For mid-size and large organizations, it is the most flexible and cost-effective means to implement and maintain.

The architecture allows enhancing functionality of any component independently of the others, allows for easier testing, scheduling of upgrades, and supports overall system stability.

What is the Desktop Agent?

The Agent resides on workstations, servers and laptops being monitored. It has a very light, small footprint and does not impact the performance or memory available to other applications. It does not alter the activity of any application and is invisible to the user. The Agent “listens” for designated applications to launch, serves as a platform for Plugins, and communicates bi-directionally with Managers.

What is a Plugin?

Plugins are Dynamically Linked Libraries (DLL’s) installed on Agents and which provide specific functionality where it is needed. Because Plugins are separately installed, functionality that is not needed is not implemented on Agents; the need to upgrade Agents is reduced as new functionality is added.

What is the Manager?

Managers reside in the cloud or on servers in the enterprise network. Managers communicate to the Agent and the Platform. Configuration files in the Manager include information such as what applications will be monitored, what the idle time will be, etc. Use data collected by Agents is temporarily cached in the Manager before being batched to the Platform. Managers support multiple Agents, with typically one Manager per Domain, Local Area Network or License Server.

How does Expense-2-Project (E2P) work with Process Meter?

Process Meter monitors application sessions. Session information needs to be associated to a project to allow for billing or resource tracking. The E2P Plugin is invoked when specified applications launch, requiring the user to input or verify project information. Once associated the remaining activity for that session (Active or Inactive/Idle times, etc.) are recorded and passed to the Platform for eventual reporting.

What information does the Inventory Reader provide?

The Software Plugin provides information such as application vendor name, application title, version, upgrade status and history, etc.

The Hardware Plugin provides information such as on how much memory is on the workstation, how much disk space is available, logical disk drive and disk partitions, and video card properties, etc.

What is the difference between Active, Inactive/Idle and Timed Out time metrics?

Active use means the application is in the foreground and the user is inputting data or using the mouse in the open window.

Inactive/Idle time is a calculated time which starts when the application window is moved to the background, or when the user has stopped actively inputting data in the foreground application window. We assume the user is gathering data or performing an activity associated with the primary application being monitored during this time. Inactive/Idle time is an application and user specific configurable setting.

Timed Out is a calculated time which starts at a pre-determined time after the Inactive/Idle time threshold has been reached. The assumption is that when Timed Out is reported, the user has not been using an application long enough that he or she is actively working on another project, has gone to lunch, left for the day, etc. but has not terminated the open session. Timed Out data lets administrators determine when licenses might be returned to the license pool for re-use.

Can Process Meter monitor shared applications or workstations?

Agents on shared applications or workstations can require the user to login with his or her credentials to identify who is using the application. This capability enables E2P customers to associate and record time for computationally intense applications for reimbursement.

Is my data secured on your website?

Communication between the Manager and the Cetrus Platform is encrypted. All data on the Platform is also encrypted. Only authorized users and Cetrus personnel with a need to know have the ability to access your data.

Can Process Meter monitor applications offline? Can it report on actual use of borrowed licenses?

Yes, Agents can monitor application use offline. The Agent will cache data until the workstation re-connects to the Internet, and will then send the use data to the Manager. E2P use data is also stored.

Can Process Meter monitor virtual desktops?

Process Meter can monitor applications on virtual desktops.

Why does my PC need to be rebooted after I install Process Meter or an upgrade?

The Process Meter Agent can monitor new application sessions from when it is installed. It requires a reboot to be able to capture all session activity from a clean start.

How many applications can Process Meter monitor?

There is no limit to how many applications Process Meter can monitor across the enterprise, or how many actual instances an Agent can monitor on a desktop.

Do I need any special ports opened up on my firewall?

No. The Cetrus solution does not require any special ports opened on your firewall.

Solution Developers

What is pay as you go pricing?
Pay as you go pricing is very simple – you pay only for what you use! Cetrus provides users with the ability to run or rent software on an on-demand or metered basis. Users are charged for the time they actually use the software (time-based metering.) Metered rates are typically dollars-per-hour. Users want on-demand licenses when they:
  • Want to expense software charges directly to projects for reimbursement, thereby charging for software as a billable asset..
  • Want to use software on any machine, at any location.
  • Have one or a few uses planned for expensive software.
  • Want to eliminate the administrative licensing compliance issues associated with today’s soft and hard license keys such as making software available on multiple machines.
  • Want to make software available to everyone that has a need within their company.
  • Want to avoid using capital funds for the purchase of software.
Software Developers want on-demand licensing when they:
  • Want to lower the entry cost for their solution without cannibalizing perpetual license sales
  • Want to offer subscription licensing to match user operating budget flexibility
  • Want users to stay current with the latest software releases.
Is it difficult switching to a rental model?
The rental model is actually simpler and more efficient for users to manage than yesterday’s perpetual licensing model, where licenses are soft- and hard-key locked, making moving application locations difficult and expensive. Cetrus takes away the hassles of account management, software downloads, out of date software, license keys and hardware dongles. With Cetrus, software applications run on any desktop computer. Users no longer need to be tied to their own desktop or a shared computer because with the rental/metered model, software can be installed on any number of computers, and Cetrus takes care of the metering and billing.
What is Expense-to-Project functionality?
The optional proprietary Cetrus Expense-to-Project (E2P) system allows for the efficient allocation of software costs to the customer’s project accounting system. When users launch the software application, they are immediately presented with their account-specific E2P input screen that captures usage time and billing data. Cetrus e-mails account usage statements on a periodic (typically monthly) basis, and provides the means for users to run reports that can be downloaded and exported in various formats so that all software expenses can be submitted for expense reimbursement. Because the reimbursement results in a zero net cost and eliminates the need for software-related capital expenditures, the user’s profitability is improved.
Why should I add rental as a pricing option?
Renting software gives you choice, flexibility, and affordability. Renting allows a lower entry cost for customers, lets you target smaller customers, and lets your users more easily manage unexpected or peak usage.  Rental rates are set by the Software Developer, and don’t cannibalize regular sales.
How do users get started renting software?
Users simply select your software’s rental option, download your software,  create an account, and immediately start running the application on their workstation. They will likely want to create an optional Expense-to-Project (E2P) profile. After they are registered as a Cetrus user, they can use your application from any workstation, anywhere, anytime that the application is loaded on. Billing will still go to the same credit card.
What information is kept by Cetrus?
Cetrus keeps users basic account information. Please read our privacy statement for more information.
How does my credit card get processed?
Your credit card transaction is processed over a highly secure encrypted connection.
What operating system versions is Cetrus compatible with?
Cetrus has been designed to operate with the latest Microsoft operating systems, including Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
Can a user run multiple rental applications at once?
Companies and individual users can have multiple software applications in their account at any time. Each will be accessible, tracked and launched independently. Contact Cetrus support for more information. (Email: support@cetrus.com)
Can I have more than one user for an application?
Enterprises can put multiple users on an account.  All users within the account are eligible to use the application and usage will be automatically added to the credit card account . The account administrator is provided with the tools to add and remove users.
What is the difference between an account and an individual user?
To support individuals and small and large companies alike, Cetrus has implemented a two-tier hierarchy for account and login names. Login names are grouped within a “parent” account name. Logging into an application or a Cetrus account requires that the user provide both the Account Name and the Login Name. By grouping user login names under an account name, corporate staff can manage users efficiently and consistently throughout the entire company. Additionally, users can belong to more than one account, and a company can have multiple accounts to support their internal business and organizational needs. The account/login name combination allows users to have a much better chance of having their preferred login name, and if the user is a part of multiple accounts, to maintain the same login name for various different account names.
What happens if a user misplaces their password?
Cetrus provides a “Forgot Password” feature available at the login screen. Entering the requested data will result in an e-mail being sent to you with a temporary password. Also, any designated administrator for an “account” can reset individual passwords. If you are the account holder and would like assistance, please contact support@cetrus.com If you are a user that has been added to a multi-user account, please contact your account administrator for assistance.
Is there anything I need to do before selecting a rental application?
In order to have full access to the on-demand applications on www.cetrus.com, you must have an operating internet browser.
How do I save my work?
Applications run on your workstation just like most of your current software applications. Save your data from your application like you do today. Because of this, it is your responsibility to save and protect all of your data. Cetrus is not responsible for any lost or missing data. It is recommended that users save their data on a frequent basis.
How can I print out my work?
Applications run on your workstation just like most of your current software applications. Print directly to your printer just like you would from any application you use today.
Are copies of my credit card receipts available?
A record of all of your credit card receipts is retained and visible in your Cetrus account. Click on the transaction link to view and print these receipts. Each receipt includes a “sticky note” area for users to add information that is saved with the receipt and is included with on the receipt when it is printed for accounting purposes.
Can I add more time when the application warns me that I am about to run out of time?
You can purchase additional metered usage time by simply going to your Cetrus Account and clicking Increase Balance. This link takes you to a page that allows you to increase the remaining balance in your prepaid account. Of course, you can always select an ongoing-metered usage option, which requires that a valid credit card be on file. When your metered usage balance drops below the preselected floor, a credit card charge will be automatically executed. The amount charged will be the user-selected amount, or the predetermined minimum.
Will the license servers be up 24/7?
The Cetrus license servers and website are designed for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation. Users will be notified of scheduled maintenance in advance of the planned downtime. In the unforeseen event that the servers go down, Cetrus will make all efforts to restore availability as soon as possible.
How should I logoff from an application?
The best way to log-off your on-demand application is to use the application’s file > exit command. Each application could be unique and require you to use its own menu-based exit commands.
Who should I contact if I have any technical support issues or concerns?
For licensing-related issues, email support@cetrus.com. For any application-related questions, please contact the vendor directly. You will find vendor links and information under “Available Applications” in your MyCetrus account.
How many other employees can I setup for using the application?
The designated account administrator can add as many users within their account as they desire and are willing to pay for. Access to the metered usage application is limited to those users that have had a user profile created for them by their account administrator.
Can other users make changes to any other accounts?
Only users with assigned Account Administrator privileges can make changes to other user profiles. Cetrus Users have one of 5 use privileges as follows:
  • Application User: Allowed to use only those applications assigned to them. They can view their personal usage reports. Their user profile is created for them by the account administrator.
  • Account Administrator: Allowed to add, change and update users, use all applications assigned to them, assign applications to user, and view all usage for all users. Plus credit card viewing and edit privileges.
Can I pause the application?
Yes, you can manually pause the application. All applications also have an inactivity or idle  timer that launches after an adjustable set time. The default is 30 minutes but can be adjusted to  as long as 1 hour.