OpenLM – the most essential, non-essential software you could ever need

The reliance of engineers and scientists on software applications grows and progresses year by year. We have evolved over the last 60 or so years from the days when a few pioneers started purchasing very expensive computer hardware to run the early CAD software that was available, to the point where CAE software vendors like Solidworks have created “Apps for kids” which children as young as 4 can access on a mobile phone. Today, no industry that requires engineering skills can function without a full range of software tools, whether designing electronics or drilling oil and gas reservoirs. The engineering software market is huge, and while there are major players that offer every conceivable toolset, even mid-size businesses will have different vendors supplying the tools they need to design and compete. 

The right to use such software requires the customer to pay for licenses. Licensing started off as a very simple process where software was sold on a per-user basis, and has gradually evolved through network and site licensing, where an agreed number of licenses are purchased by a company to be shared by its employees on-site, to subscriptions in the cloud. The engineering software portfolio of most companies today will be subject to a variety of license models, some of which are extremely complex. Each vendor usually provides a license manager tool that is used to control license usage and ensure that companies are compliant with the terms of their agreement.

The Evolution of License Management Software

If software is issued by the vendor to manage licenses, why should anyone purchase an application that is vendor-independent to measure and monitor license use and activity? It seems pretty pointless to purchase yet another software tool that duplicates work already being done by free vendor software. What’s more, why purchase a product that focuses mainly on engineering software? Well, there are some compelling reasons, which is why engineering companies, from SMEs through to global enterprises, public and government bodies, and academic institutions have invested in OpenLM. 

  • your vendor’s license manager is not your license manager
  • the administrative overhead puts a strain on your budget
  • you probably have bought too many licenses
  • you keep buying more licenses to reduce denials
  • the period for ROI in OpenLM is usually 6 months or less.

This list is not exhaustive, but is enough to explain why acquiring OpenLM in a scientific or engineering environment is essential. 

Your Vendor’s License Manager is not your Friend

We thought long and hard about the role a vendor-supplied license manager plays in your organization and came up with a parole officer. We are perfectly sure that you have never been in a situation where you needed such a person, but now you have this watchdog in your environment. Like a parole officer, the application:-

  • helps you find work – no license manager, no licenses
  • monitors your behavior – ensures you are keeping to the straight and narrow of your licensing agreement
  • reports on any infringement of your licensing conditions, which could cost you

As if that were not bad enough, you have a whole bunch of them, at least one for every supplier, and more where you have several agreements, as happens when you have branches globally, or a hybrid of on-premise and cloud licenses. You have to manage all these relationships.

It’s a Costly Exercise

While most software vendors purchase their license management from a specialized software vendor, like Flexera or Reprise, there are custom versions as well. Handling all these products becomes an administrative nightmare, especially when it comes to managing entitlements and access to software. So, whether you are on-boarding a new employee, terminating employment or merely moving someone from one business unit to another, you have to go and update each license manager for each piece of software required. Not only is this laborious, it is also error-prone. 

The next problem is in reporting to management. You have reports with different formats and no common look-and-feel, unless you rework each of the outputs into a common format. You also don’t necessarily have the right data to estimate what license numbers you really need when it comes to renewal time, or when a new project is starting. 

This is where OpenLM makes your life so much easier; you can manage everything through a single, easy-to-use interface instead of hopping in and out of a whole slew of license managers. You also can report on one or all of your applications with a comprehensive set of reports that are tailored to supporting renewal and purchasing decisions, as well as overspend and sub-optimal productivity. From our interactions with customers, we are pretty sure you have more licenses than you need, and this could apply to several products. Our reports will help you rectify this situation.

You Bought More Licenses than You Need

This is a very common problem and probably the best reason for purchasing OpenLM, as you can save a lot of money cutting down on unnecessary licenses. Needless to say, your vendor-supplied software is not going to help you here; it is not in the vendor’s interests to have you operating as economically as possible.

Potential savings include:-

  • identifying and getting rid of “shelfware”, software purchased but not being used.
  • high-end licenses purchased when a basic license is all that is needed
  • named user licenses where a concurrent license is all that is needed.

Surprisingly, this is a big problem with subscription licensing. Based on market surveys, the disparity between budgeted and actual costs for SaaS software is generally double to treble the original estimate. So the expectation that “Pay-as-you-go” licensing eliminates the need for license management is unfortunately not true. 

Your Productivity Levels could be Better

Denials are a common problem in any networked license environment. Every company experiences peaks and troughs in license demand and the knee-jerk reaction is to purchase more licenses to keep your users happy. None of the proprietary license managers will show you why you are getting denials and if they are “true” denials (i.e. repeated denials over a period of time) or just a single denial that was resolved thirty seconds later. You also cannot see if the licenses booked out are actually being used or are lying idle. Even where you can identify licenses lying idle, you lack a toolset that can automatically harvest idle licenses according to your in-house software policy. OpenLM lets you tailor an automatic harvesting regime that suits your business and reduces the risk of denials, because only licenses that are actually being used are checked out.

You Achieve ROI in No Time

Engineering software licenses don’t come cheap. Eliminating just one license usually pays for your OpenLM purchase, and some of our clients do precisely that to justify their spend. On average our customers save 15% in their first year of using OpenLM, with year-on-year savings through optimizing their software portfolio. The ability of OpenLM to analyse usage right down to feature level, as well as additional features, such as reporting on custom software and detecting unnecessary spend on time-based licenses make our totally ono-essential software a critical component in your software toolkit.

Benefiting from PLM in the Pharmaceutical Industry

A recent report by Quadrant Knowledge Solutions, a Massachusetts-based consulting and research firm, on the market outlook for Product Lifecycle Maintenance (PLM), revealed some interesting statistics about industries adopting PLM. While around 80% of the market is still centred around the aerospace, automotive, high-tech and industrial equipment industries, other industries, such as retail and consumer goods, can see the benefit in adopting a lifecycle approach to their product management. The healthcare sector is steadily recognizing the benefits that PLM can bring, both in regulatory compliance and in product development. Quadrant reports on this sector as comprising 3.1% of the overall market, and it is expected to grow by about 7% annually. Pharmaceutical and medical device companies in particular are seeing dramatic improvements in time to market where they have adopted PLM.

Challenges for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Organizations that develop pharmaceutical solutions for both chronic and acute diseases find themselves between a rock and a hard place – the urgent demand from patients and their physicians and the regulatory constraints of bodies like the FDA. Research conducted by the Tufts Center for Drug Development and last updated in 2016, revealed the following statistics:-

  • Costs to bring a new drug to market averages $2,6 billion
  • This excludes an additional $300 million in further R&D when the drug is available
  • The time taken from discovery to launch is 10-12 years
  • Only 12% of new drugs make it through the clinical trials

Although this research was conducted on a sample of drugs developed between 1995 and 2007, the risks and costs incurred in bringing a new drug to market have probably increased rather than decreased. Earlier research in 2003 had a success rate double the 12% of the later findings, and considerably lower costs.

One of the main contributors to the lead time and costs associated with getting a new product to market is the pharmaceutical process and the regulatory constraints built into the process. The process has not changed significantly since the 1980s and has not taken advantage of the changes in technology, although the drug development itself is at the cutting edge of science and technology.

This is where PLM comes in.

How PLM Disrupts the Old Way of Doing Things

What the pharmaceutical industry needs to embrace is something that the automotive industry latched on to over 20 years ago. Product lifecycle maintenance follows the entire lifecycle of product development from conception to end-of-life, and brings transparency and collaboration to the process. Implementing PLM removes many obstacles from the development path.

Working in Silos

The long lead time in the pharmaceutical lends itself to isolation between the various stakeholders in the process. What is more, during the decade taken to develop the drug, there will be natural turnover of staff and loss of tacit knowledge. Another factor is outsourcing some of the process, where visibility and understanding can be lost. There is a need for all the outputs of the disparate teams and groups to be merged into a comprehensive view. Merck define 3 types of silos :-

  • siloed thinking by people involved in the process
  • siloed processes and workflows
  • siloed technologies – disparate applications that do not integrate

This is where PLM can assist.

Exhaustive Documentation

The need to document every step of drug development is a major constraint imposed by the FDA and other regulatory bodies – it is paper-based and requires up to 100 000 pages of evidence of testing, trials, approvals and every other component associated with the drug being developed. Where participants have been working in silos, the problem of keeping a unified record is exacerbated. Most PLM offerings have  content management features that remove the risk of missing documentation.

But More is Needed

NeoPLM is a specialist vendor, founded by CEO Cathal Strain, who had 30 year’s experience at Pfizer before embarking on this venture. He points out a few pitfalls of most other offerings in the market.

  • PLM is designed around CAD systems, and not batch-based manufacturing, like pharmaceuticals
  • The requirement for documented evidence from the regulatory authorities hampers the ability of companies to streamline their way of working
  • While all PLM suites have maintenance and decommissioning as part of the lifecycle, the ongoing monitoring of drugs once on the market and in use for the lifetime of the drug is far more complex and intensive than for products such as an automobile or a building.

 

This does not mean that PLM products developed for engineers cannot do the job. Vendors such as Dassault have developed and acquired specialist PLMs that are targeted at the chemical and healthcare industries, especially biotech organizations that manufacture medical devices. What is remarkable, however, is how slow the healthcare industry is to adopt a PLM approach. While leaders such as Sanofi and Merck have taken on the challenge, the majority of industry players are lagging behind. The vendors who offer PLM solutions are all leaders in enterprise, scientific and engineering software and every one of them has healthcare customers and solutions. Whether they choose a specialist pharmaceutical PLM vendor such as NeoPLM or MasterControl, or choose products from vendors such as Oracle, Dassault, Siemens or PTC, implementing PLM will accelerate their drug development process, while reducing costs and risks.

What is certain is that those companies that are slow in adopting a PLM vision of their business will have to adapt as their competitors outperform them. Their shareholders will be reluctant to support them if they cannot keep pace. 

License borrowing and Offline Licenses in FlexNet (FlexLM), IBM-LUM, DSLS and other License managers

License Borrowing is a method of linking a specific workstation to a single license instance from within the license pool. This procedure marks a license as being perpetually used on the license manager (LM), enables users to borrow a product license for a designated time period, and to operate the licensed application without connecting to the license manager.

OpenLM monitors borrowing of licenses on several LM types. This document presents the borrowing methods on three of these LMs: FlexNet (FlexLM), IBM-LUM and DSLS, and the OpenLM advantages in monitoring borrowed licenses.

For a full list of other license managers where OpenLM monitors borrowing, please visit https://www.openlm.com/license-manager-capabilities/

Borrowing licenses in FlexLM

In order to enable license borrowing, the software publisher should issue a floating license file with a FEATURE or INCREMENT line that contains the BORROW keyword, for example:

INCREMENT 3d_to_2d_flattener ugslmd 27.0 06-nov-2012 1 SUPERSEDE \

DUP_GROUP=UHD user_info=”NX 2D Exchange” ISSUED=06-sep-2012 \

BORROW=2880 ck=194 SIGN=”code”

In the example above, the BORROW time was restricted to 2880 hours = 120 days. The maximum value for borrowing licenses in FlexLM is 180 days.

A user specifies the expiration date when a borrowed license is to be returned, which should be equal to or smaller than the BORROW parameter above. This expiration date is set by applying a value to the LM_BORROW environment variable. This is either done directly, by running the lmborrow utility, or by setting it in the application (when available).

The user then runs the application while connected to the network which writes borrowing information on the client computer. The license server keeps the borrowed license checked out. If enabled by the software vendor, borrowed licenses can be returned early, prior to the borrow period expiration.

When the expiration period has elapsed, or after having returned the borrowed license early, the local borrowing data no longer authorizes the license checkout, and the license server returns the borrowed license to the pool of available licenses.

DSLS Offline licenses

In DSLS, Borrowed licenses are referred to as “offline licenses”. The operation of extracting licenses for offline usage is done by the Application’s “Offline Management” tab on the “Local License Management” dialog box. There, a user needs to select a license for extraction and set the duration period for offline extraction. Maximum license offline extraction is 30 days.

When querying the usage of licenses with the DSLicSrv command “getLicenseUsage -all” , offline licenses should be reported as shown in the following example:

internal Id: <Workstation> …

granted since: <Time and date> <workstation> <Username> <Application full path> …

targetId: <targetId> licenseId: <licenseId> …

granted since: <Time and date> hold until: <Time and date>

IBM LUM Offline licenses

The IBM License Use Management (LUM) system refers to borrowed licenses as “Concurrent Offline Licenses”. In order to implement license borrowing in LUM:

  1. The user calls the application.
  2. The application looks for an offline-nodelocked license in its nodelock directory. If a license is found and is valid, the application runs.
  3. If the application does not find a license in the nodelock directory and the portable computer can reach a License Use Management network license server, the application requests a concurrent-offline license from it.
  4. The network license server checks if the license has an authorization for the user, group, or for the target ID of the machine, and validates the password provided by the user.
  5. If the authorization is for a concurrent-offline license, the server creates an offline-nodelocked license and copies it to the nodelock directory of the portable computer. The license is marked as in use on the server.
  6. The application checks that the nodelock directory contains a valid license and the application starts. The application can now run without a connection to the License Use Management network license server (that is, the application can run on a portable computer).

Management of offline concurrent licenses is done in the IBM LUM windows UI:

  • The product authorization must be set to “All Allowed” to enable concurrent offline usage
  • The license offline extraction time is set. It is limited to 120 days.
  •  A password is set for the license instance.

Similar options are available by the lumblt command line.

The OpenLM advantage

Borrowing a license is not the ideal method for license deployment. It is both expensive and hard to track:

  • As borrowed licenses are floating licenses that have been put to work perpetually, they cannot be subject to any license chargeback, and are more expensive than other concurrent license on the license pool.
  • Borrowed licenses are also hard to track. They are no longer marked as part of the license pool. License administrators need to manually revoke such licenses as soon as they are not needed.

OpenLM monitors the usage of license managers, providing insight regarding users’ identity and efficient license allocation. It thus presents several advantages for license administrators, who can:

  • Identify users who draw both borrowed and concurrent license from two different workstations, and alert upon such conditions.
  • Mark specific used licenses as borrowed, clearly presenting the user and workstation to which it is linked.
  • Identify usage patterns, and advise an optimized license allocation policy.

OpenLM has an extension called the Reporting Hub, which is recommended where borrowing is practised. The Reporting Hub allows you to aggregate borrowing data, which is not available in our core product, which only reports on licenses that are being borrowed within a session.

Note: If OpenLM monitors borrowing for another license manager that you use, such as Sentinel Hasp, or one of the others listed at https://www.openlm.com/license-manager-capabilities/

please contact support at openlm.com for advice specific to that license manager.

 

Reaching for the Sky – Cloud License Management

The introduction of cloud software products not only disrupted the software market, but also the licensing and compliance management of such software. On-premise licensing was pretty cut and dried, with most organizations preferring concurrent or network licensing for most of their software purchases. Initially, the concept of subscription licenses for software accessed in the cloud, whether customers wanted it or not, seemed a simple concept of pay-per-use, which appeared to be cost-effective. The reality is quite different. For the last few years, research among small, medium and large organizations found that 30-35% of users  were concerned about their steadily escalating cloud computing costs. There was a general belief that they were overspending on cloud storage and software, but very few companies were doing anything to actually measure and optimize these costs.

Why You Could be Overspending on Cloud Software

There are several reasons why cloud costs are not easy to control; here are some of the key contributors:-

  • Overprovisioning. Where a company moves from on-premise to cloud services, the accurate estimation of the number of cloud licenses required can be quite complex; it’s not just a straight conversion of the number of concurrent and named licenses into the number of cloud licenses required. Furthermore, if you had not completely optimized your on-premise license use, chances are you had too many licenses before. The general tendency has been to acquire more cloud licenses than actually required.

 

  • Pricing Complexity. What makes cloud computing so attractive for vendors, is that there are so many ways to price their offering. Per minute or per second usage, features used, time of day, or a cocktail of costs can be applied. Anything that can be measured can result in a charge, and the user has no visibility as to how they are incurring these costs; the vendor’s license manager will inform them what they owe, without any indication on how these costs could have been avoided.

 

  • Cost of Compliance. There was a belief that using cloud services would reduce the risk of on-site audits. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case; many vendors have increased their audits. Apart from the financial risk of non-compliance and the need to “true-up” (pay in the licensing shortfall), the cost overhead for an organization in human resources, custom report extracts and other administrative overheads can range from $100 000 to $500 000, depending on the size of the enterprise.

 

  • Waste. Surprise, surprise, idle licenses do not go away when you switch to cloud, in fact, the situation may deteriorate. So license monitoring and harvesting is just as important as for on-premise licenses. Overprovisioning is also a contributor here, where the licenses acquired have a whole lot of features that are barely used, but affect the pricing. The user could make do with a basic or intermediate license rather than the top of the range option with all the bells and whistles. So all the toolsets you needed for monitoring on-premise licenses are still needed, but they must be able to monitor cloud usage.

OpenLM’s New Cloud Monitoring

Following numerous requests from our customers, as well as our own need to monitor our own cloud-based software (who does not use Adobe?), we have developed a cloud monitoring capability. It is limited to only a few vendors initially, but these are the most critical vendors among our customer base. Two are engineering vendors and two are enterprise vendors.

Monitoring Adobe and Microsoft Cloud 365

While most (although not all) of our customers are in engineering and scientific industries, we know the use of Adobe and Microsoft 365 is so pervasive, that the ability to monitor these vendors using OpenLM will be of benefit to them. Although our main focus is on specialized engineering software, we do understand the need to manage other software, and are gradually expanding our capabilities to manage non-engineering software.

Monitoring Autodesk and ESRI Cloud

Autodesk has been very determined in moving its historical customer base to subscription and cloud-based services. It has created many disgruntled customers, who have invested too much training and intellectual property into using Autodesk products to change vendors. SRI tried similar tactics, but there was too much push-back from their customers, so they backed down. However, they are still intending to move customers to the cloud and a subscription service; it will just take them longer.

Many of our customers are heavily invested in products from these two vendors, and need to be back in control of their licensing costs for their cloud portfolio. As many of them are also still using on-premise licenses as well,  the added complexity of a hybrid licensing environment needs to be managed; spreadsheets do not suffice for the cloud software; as indicated above the issues encountered with on-premise licensing still cop up in cloud licensing.

A Brief Glimpse of the Capabilities

There is a lot more to cloud computing that we have not covered here. The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing requires that embedded licenses managing embedded software need to be monitored. Many IoT devices are offline most of the time, but still need attention. We have built capabilities to monitor embedded software, but we will discuss these features in a separate article.

Below are a few of the Screens/reports for monitoring cloud activity and usage. There are several more, such as the license server report, which helps you pick up cloud instances that need configuring into your license environment.

License Activity. This report is familiar to those of you who use our License Manager. It has extensive filtering options, so that you can examine activity for a specific project, vendor, license or even at a very granular level per user and per workstation.

License Usage Chart. This chart (which can also be displayed as a heatmap) shows license utilization for specific features for Flexnet embedded licenses per day for a specified period. Again, there are numerous filters you can apply to get the results you need.

Objectives of Our Cloud Features

We have designed reports to help you manage and optimize your cloud software licenses. You will be able to discover who is using the licenses, whether you have bought too many licenses and identify idle licenses. You may want to build additional limitations into license usage, like introducing an after-hours curfew for specific software (our support team can advise you on how to do this). Cloud license cost containment is a big topic because millions of dollars are being spent on unnecessary licenses. It is estimated that as much as 40% of cloud licensing cost is wasted. Being able to identify these costs in your own organization and remove or reduce them could have a substantial and beneficial impact on your bottom line. A recent survey found that nearly 60% of respondents acknowledged that they were overspending on cloud services, and only 15% were actually optimizing their cloud costs. We are sure you want to be one of the winners in cloud cost management and will be delighted to help you. Please contact sales@openlm.com or support@openlm.com for any assistance or join our webinar with one of our sales engineers.

 

Shedding the Kilos – Lightweighting in the Automotive Industry

Lightweighting has become a major preoccupation of all transportation manufacturers, whether an airplane, ship or passenger sedan is to be produced. Regulation to reduce carbon emissions affects all these industries globally, and engineers face new challenges in substituting new, lighter materials for conventional ones such as mild steel, and ensuring that these materials can be integrated into the overall design. The reduction in weight cannot compromise the safety and reliability of the vehicle; where possible it should improve it. The choice of materials varies from high-strength steel and aluminium, to organic fibres from plants such as bamboo and kenaf (Indian hemp).Complexity increases where these discrete materials are combined to form a composite material, such as plastic polymers using organic fibres. Understanding how these materials react under stress and how two parts composed of different materials can be joined have been described as “alchemy”, rather than engineering. Replacing heavier parts with lightweight materials is not mere substitution, lightweighting disrupts the whole product lifecycle, from design to end-of-life.

It’s Not a Perfect World

Under ideal circumstances, every manufacturer in the supply chain would be competing to bring the best and lightest product to market, either as a lightweight material, as a component or as a complete automobile. The reality is that cost determines how far an automobile manufacturer can apply mass reduction to any model. Carbon fiber is a vital material in lightweighting, but the slide below, taken from a presentation by Lucintel predicts that only 5% of light motor vehicles manufactured in 2025 will use carbon fibre extensively, while 95% will utilize very little or no carbon fiber due to its high cost. A cost reduction would have a major impact, but this depends on reducing costs. So while Lamborghinis and Audi R8s contain extensive carbon fiber, designers of the Toyota Yaris still have to look at other more affordable alternatives under the current price.

Source: Major Lightweighting Trends Shaping the Automotive Industry – Presentation by Lucintel at Composites Europe, November 2018.

 

Some might question whether the growing electric vehicle (EV) market will not render combustion engines redundant, but the reality is that petrol and diesel engines are still going to be around for the next decade. EV manufacturers are also involved in lightweighting, focusing on ways to reduce the weight of the battery, which is a major contributor to the overall vehicle mass, whether in EVs or in hybrids.

Another constraint is the ability to recycle the materials; the rise of the circular economy requires this, and producers that do not comply could be penalized. So the race is on to discover cost-effective materials, test their suitability under stress and over time and utilize them instead of the materials used in current models.

Concept and Design

The choice of a particular material has a dramatic impact on the design process. Before it can be successfully used, extensive testing must be done, most of which will use simulation software, complementing live testing of the material and prototypes. Providers of simulation applications have recognized that new simulation tools need to be added to the simulation toolkit. Altair, a leader in simulation software, has recently acquired Cambridge Collaborative’s SEAM® software. This software has been used by major companies to test for potential vibrations and noise, especially in the vehicle’s interior.

Autodesk University has training on what types of simulation are needed to test thermoplastic composites that contain fibers, where the testing for short and continuous fibers are different.

Testing of a material does not stop once a decision has been made to use it in the new design. Engineers are including sensors to monitor materials and parts in the field. This real-time data is then relayed back to the manufacturer during the lifetime of the product, usually to a digital twin of the part or even the entire vehicle. Any shortcomings can be identified in the virtual version and corrective action or improvements can be applied to the next model. Ansys, again a leader in simulation, has recently teamed up with PTC with their Teamworx IoT platform to support a digital twin solution.

Another new area of engineering is the discovery and design of new agents for bonding different materials and new fasteners where conventional nuts and bolts are unsuitable. Bonding parts, rather than using fasteners, also reduces vibrations and noise. Recent research has developed bonding agents for thermoplastics that are reversible; heat is applied to form the bond and when needed, for instance during a service, the bond id reheated to remove the bond. To re-bond the part, heat can be applied again. the researchers at Michigan University used nanotechnology for this innovation.

Rethinking the Assembly Line

The traditional linear process of the assembly line may be obsolescent. BMW are shifting to a new paradigm which is more flexible and agile. Rather than having a different assembly line for each powertrain, they have rethought the factory floor, so that a combustion engine, hybrid or fully electric car can be produced via a common assembly line. This gives them the ability to take customization up to a new level. Audi too has redesigned their shop floor to cater for future trends in manufacturing.

Proactive Maintenance

The use of digital twins facilitates proactive maintenance, impending defects and wear and tear are monitored by the various sensors embedded in the car and reported back to the dealer and company. The vehicle owner can be invited to bring his or her car in for maintenance and repairs as a result. This is already happening at Tesla, where each car produced has its own digital twin, and where a software download is the first prize for any problems, rather than the owner having to bring the car in for attention. When it comes to servicing and maintaining a vehicle, workers will need training in the new materials used and techniques like unbonding parts joined with a reversible bond. It is probable that this will be automated as much as possible, but workers who understand the process and materials will still be in demand.

The End of the Line

The days of cars being relegated to a scrap-heap at the end of their life are over. Parts need to be recyclable to reduce the load on the planet. This is where choosing the right materials during concept and design is important. While the parts must be durable and robust during the life of the vehicle, they must also be easily reclaimable. The energy consumed to achieve this should either be very low or should be offset by inherent qualities of the materials used. Indian Hemp or Kenaf is an example of a suitable material, it is carbon neutral, owing to its ability to extract co2 from the atmosphere and its quick growing cycle of 4 months. Malaysia has invested heavily in growing Kenaf, believing that there will be a vibrant market for kenaf in lightweight manufacturing.

The guesswork and research involved in understanding the new composites and their properties has been reduced by specialist organizations doing the research. Research giant Fraunhofer has created digital twins of materials, which are stored in a materials database accessible to manufacturers making a decision about what materials would work best for the problem at hand. While the intention was to support the additive engineering environment, it is equally effective for other manufacturing challenges.

The developments in lightweighting are not limited to automobiles and airplanes, any manufactured product, from domestic appliances to wind turbines, can benefit either from a reduction in weight and the associated risk for rotor blades. to new composite materials that are superior to those currently used. The reduction in the cost of sensors stimulates the use of digital twins to report on products in the field and creates a continuous improvement cycle.

Announcing our New Release – OpenLM 4.5!

We know you always look forward to our new releases and the improvements they bring to managing your licenses. We are delighted to announce new capabilities both in product management and operations. 

Product Administration Enhancements

Reaching for the Sky – Cloud License Management

While many are under the impression that license management for cloud products is not necessary because it is pay-per-use software, this is not strictly true. For those of you who have been grappling with usage and licenses for ArcGIS Online and Autodesk Cloud, this new release will help you manage these products in tandem with your other more conventional licenses. Then, while it is not strictly engineering software, but is found and used in every organization, we now offer license management for Adobe Cloud and Microsoft 365.

Autodesk Token Flex


While we were working on Autodesk Cloud, we also devoted time to providing a complete solution for Autodesk Token Flex. You will now be able to

  • audit usage from your point of view as a comparison against Autodesk’s calculations
  • identify potential double charge situations based on license and user time of day discrepancies
  • Identify idle licenses and harvest them

all supported with comprehensive reporting.

Embedded License Management

Embedded licenses are becoming more and more common. Following requests from you, our customers, we can now support Flexnet Embedded (FNE) that has XML API enabled such as Avid or Nvidia.

Tighter Control of Oil and Gas Software

For our oil and gas customers, we are pleased to tell you that you can now save and close instances of Harmony, Kingdom and Petra applications. We would welcome any organizations who want to be beta testers for this enhancement.

Operational Improvements

Performance

  • We have cut down on that tedious wait at start-up and while performing certain analyses, which will make everyone happy.
  • You do not have to restart any more to apply configuration additions or changes for license managers

System settings & configuration

  • System configuration is much slicker, now that it has been moved to the web UI (user interface)
  • We have also made email notification less clunky by moving it to the web UI

Security and Integrity

Security threats are growing daily, so we have tightened up on access and usage by

  • Enforcing passwords and improving compliance by introducing password expiry
  • preventing use of previous passwords and
  • limiting the number of login attempts, and blocking access after several failed attempts.
  • All OpenLM components now require login, even when working server-side

LDAP Synchronization

Some of our customers were experiencing synchronization problems when using LDAP and Active Directory. These problems were volume-related and we strengthened the application to support LDAP synchronization for over 10 000 users.

We invite you to sample Release 4.5 and see how it assists you!

Changing the Dynamics in Healthcare Research with Ansys Software

Scientific breakthroughs in healthcare are increasing daily. However, the costs of new drugs and devices are prohibitive and making them available can take years before they are approved by authorities such as the FDA. Traditionally, to gain approval for a new healthcare drug or device, it had to undergo comprehensive testing in three disciplines; bench tests (in vitro), animal tests (in vivo) and finally, clinical trials (in situ). This process can take a decade before a new drug or device is regarded as effective and safe enough to be brought to market. What is more, a large number of new products fail 90% of the way through the journey.

The development of scientific software applications that can assist in and accelerate the process is bringing a new dynamic, helping to bring down costs while reducing the risk of failure of a drug or device. Simulation software provides a new means of testing any prototype healthcare device, and is becoming increasingly important in biomechanical research and is commonly referred to as in silico testing, referring to the silicon chips that are integral to any computer. Software vendors such as Ansys have collaborated in integrating their software in healthcare modelling and simulation, assisting in breakthroughs in healthcare device development.

Accommodating the New Market

Traditionally, software such as Ansys was developed for the engineering industry and is known as computer-assisted engineering (CAE). While CAE software that can perform functions such as finite element analysis (FEA) and computational flow dynamics (CFD) is what is needed for in silico testing, healthcare researchers are generally untrained in these disciplines, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. Ansys themselves speak of the need to “democratize” their software tools, making them accessible to all, not just the few researchers with the necessary training in mathematics and engineering. They have already made inroads on providing a product that can be used by anyone in healthcare. Surgeons can use simulation before an operation to assess the effect of a particular approach on a patient. Sales and marketing can demonstrate how a product functions via simulations. Even executives can use a simulation model to secure funding from potential investors.

Ansys has collated a portfolio of case studies where the use of their products has brought benefits to healthcare organizations, primarily via reduced costs and shorter timeframes as well as risk reduction. The ability to show a simulation as opposed to describing it has an impact all along the value chain:-

  • investors can visualize what the innovation does
  • regulatory authorities get a clear view of how the product works
  • potential customers, such as doctors and hospitals, are likely to adopt the new product from a demonstration
  • insurers are presented with visual evidence to help them make a decision about a patient procedure and how likely it is to succeed.

From Cardiac Interventions to Better Pills

  • Heart Disease. The medical world is focused on combatting cardiovascular disease, because it is the leading cause of death globally, according to the WHO. The traditional procedure of open-heart surgery is steadily being replaced by less invasive remedies, such as inserting a stent to regulate blood flow. CFD is invaluable in this field, from making more accurate diagnosis of the state of a patient’s arteries to manufacturing new stents that work more effectively than current models.
  • Pulmonary Applications. New drugs can cost as much as $1-billion to develop, and those for respiratory diseases are the most expensive, because of the difficulty of testing the drug’s effectiveness in the field. Researchers are turning to CFD to simulate the movement of air through the respiratory passages. In silico simulation can reduce the cost of development by as much as 30% and halve the time to complete the testing.
  • Dietary Supplements. It goes without saying that if a pill is too large and difficult to swallow, it will not be marketable. The ideal shape is as round as possible, but this affects the hardness of the pill, which in turn compromises the machinery punching out the pill and reduces the lifetime of the parts. Asahi in Japan have expanded their product range from brewing beer to providing dietary supplements. They used Ansys Mechanical to come up with a solution that saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are many more examples of the use of simulation in healthcare available on the Ansys website, but these few give an idea of the diversity of applications that can benefit from CAE.

So How Does this Affect the License Administrator?

Up to now, CAE software has been used by specialists and experts, even in engineering, so there are usually only a few simulation software applications on site. Now that Ansys is “democratizing” its product and making it accessible to people who are not skilled in modelling and simulation, the need for the product across the organization will increase, and so will the number of licenses required. Ansys provides FlexLM as a license manager, as do most of their competitors, notably Comsol and Dassault. While FlexLM reports salient information on license usage, it is for the benefit of the vendor, rather than the customer.

This is where OpenLM can play an important role, as it can provide all the control and visibility required to manage other licenses, such as MatLab, as well as Ansys, through a single graphical interface (GUI). What is more, OpenLM’s core product can manage licenses for Nvidia GPUs (graphical processing units), which are being used by more and more organizations running simulation software, because of the reduction in time taken to process the information. Ansys has cooperated with Nvidia to make their software very scalable, for instance, for performing simulations, Ansys Mechanical can scale up to 1 000 cores as opposed to the industry standard of 100 cores, and can solve up to 2 billion DOF (degrees of freedom). Ansys’ CFD tool, Fluent, can scale up to 129 000 cores.

OpenLM can also manage the Ansys “pay-as-you-go” licensing model, the “Elastic License”. This license can be used as a supplement to the regular Ansys agreement. It allows the customer to “top-up” where required, for instance, where there is a peak demand for a new project. It is a much more customer-friendly license model, in that it has reporting that supports departmental and project chargebacks.

Where Ansys is leading currently, its competitors will surely follow suit. In a few years time, it is likely that specialized and rare CAE software will no longer be used by only a handful of finite element specialists, but by resources across the organization. Managing software such as the Ansys Workbench is just as easy as managing Autodesk products with OpenLM, as well as the GPUs required for the necessary processing power. One of our consultants can advise you on your unique situation.

How Solidworks Enables Innovation in a Bionic World

The design and manufacture of medical devices has changed dramatically in the last decade. The advent of 3D printing and software applications that enable simulation for testing concepts and prototypes enables organizations in this field to bring safer products to market more quickly than ever before.  Versatility and flexibility is also possible; it is physically and financially feasible to design and fit devices that fit perfectly for an individual patient, such as an artificial hand. Many of the engineering software vendors provide invaluable software to make the job easier. Solidworks, a subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes, has developed and built a range of products which are available as a portfolio, that enable and support the medical product value chain from concept through to regulatory approval.

An End-to-End Toolkit

While there are many vendors offering some or most of the software applications needed to produce 3D designs, run simulations and create bills of material, Solidworks claims to be the only company that provides a complete solution, as opposed to point solutions and PLM (product lifecycle management) software. The Solidworks Product Portfolio is a PDM (Product Development Management) solution, and they are confident that its contents will satisfy two critical success factors in medical device development; regulatory requirements and time to market.

Parent company Dassault Systemes are recognised as the world leader in 3D systems, so much so that they call themselves the “3D Experience Company”, abbreviated to “3DS”.  While the Portfolio offers every possible 3D engineering aid, from CAD to visualization and preparation for 3D printing, its real strength is in the documentation that it generates. Every step of the journey is recorded and traceable, which is vital if regulatory approval is to be granted.

Factors that Affect Outcomes: Regulation

It is understandable that medical devices require far more rigorous testing and approval than most products, after all, a poor quality shoe may be uncomfortable and give you blisters, a sub-standard stent could kill you. Although the average total cost for bringing a new medical device to market is much less than the $ 1 billion required for a new drug, the cost of regulation can be as high as 77% of the overall cost, especially when you are dealing with the FDA and the device is a Class III device. The FDA’s Class III device is regarded as high risk and is any device that needs to be inserted into the patient’s body, such as a hip replacement or a stent and requires a special and costly PMA (pre-market approval). A 510(k) approval for lower-risk devices takes just a big chunk out of the total product budget as illustrated below in a figure from an article in Medical Product Outsourcing Magazine, discussing a report published in 2010 by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

regulatory cost as a component of medical product development in the US

Illustration of regulatory cost as a component of medical product development in the US

(Source: https://www.mpo-mag.com/issues/2017-09-01/view_columns/medtech-price-strategies-who-is-going-to-pay-for-it)

The report examined the impact of regulation on new medical devices in the US and Europe. It was found that US patients would generally have to wait an extra two years after a device was approved in Europe before they would be able to benefit.

One of the challenges in getting a PMA or a 501(k) is the compilation and presentation of all the relevant documentation to the FDA. This is where Solidworks offers a clear advantage, because every detail of the workflow is automatically recorded, from design to final prototype. Without this functionality, the R&D staff is tasked with compiling all the data from disparate systems. The manual overhead adds time to the project and is error-prone. Having all the necessary documentation collated and integrated saves many hours both in the lab and in negotiations with the FDA, bringing down costs as well. Many of these costs are salary related: approximately 1/3 of employees are tasked with quality control and adherence to regulations. Superior documentation should reduce the headcount required as well as reduce hours spent in compliance activities. Improved delivery times are also vital when it comes to competition.

Factors that Affect Outcomes: Competition

Despite the hurdles to be overcome with regulation and compliance, competition is fierce in the medical product world. So speed is of the essence, balanced with uncompromising quality. A single, integrated stream of applications that moves from concept through 3D rendering, iterative testing of the model using simulations such as FEA and CFD, as well as a comprehensive standard parts library, optimizes the time taken to get to approval and into the market. It is also possible to decompose the product into smaller parts and test them independently and then together, accelerating testing by simplifying what has to be tested, rather than deal with the entire product every time. The ability to customise a product for an individual patient is also simplified with the Driveworks application, which takes a pre-existing model and adjusts it according to a set of criteria specified by the engineer.

Any competitor who is using a range of different products will find it difficult to match the speed to market that the Solidworks tools provide.

Some Success Stories

While some medical devices require stainless steel for manufacture, plastic is used wherever possible. Plastic design is specialized and requires a specific toolset to design the plastic part to be manufacture-ready, for instance, when injection molding or 3D printing is required. As Dassault and Solidworks are experts in 3D modelling, they are the first choice for companies producing devices that can be printed on a 3D printer.

  • One example of where 3D printing is a lifesaver is in the manufacture of devices that can be inserted in newborns with birth defects. One infant had a very soft windpipe that kept collapsing: a splint was designed and inserted to protect and strengthen the windpipe.
  • Tensys Medical Inc attributed the use of Solidworks tools in shortening their design process by 60% when they designed a non-invasive arterial blood pressure management system. This enabled them to get their product out ahead of their competitors.
  • Exoskeletons for assisting hemiplegics, paraplegics and quadriplegics to move independently are becoming a major subject of biomechanics. At Solidworks World 2018, Korean professor Kyoungchul Kong revealed 2 exoskeletons designed to assist his fellow-workers, one for paraplegics, called WalkON, and one for hemiplegics and people with walking difficulties called Angelegs.

There are hundreds more examples of designs, ranging from more ergonomic pill bottles to artificial arteries, all of which have been designed using Solidworks tools. The cost of the software is easily recouped, whether it cuts down on regulatory costs, accelerates time to market, cuts down on prototyping via simulation, or all three. Licensing for all products can either be on a subscription or perpetual basis. There is also a 3-month subscription option available for some applications, specially tailored for small companies who need the products for a short-term project. The license management is provided by Flexera, and OpenLM can manage licenses for all all Solidworks products.

 

License Renewal Time? Check if you really need it.

One of the main challenges of license management is the juggling act between carrying the minimum number of licenses to reduce costs while ensuring that your user base can work at maximum productivity with as few denials as possible. Here at OpenLM we believe that our standard reporting supplies all the information you need to keep your license pool lean and mean.

Most of our customers buy OpenLM because the license management software provided by the vendor, such as Autodesk, reports on licenses that are checked out of the network pool. What is not reported on is the efficiency with which these licenses are being used, in other words, how productive are the users? Customers say to us that they know intuitively that their license usage is not optimal, but that they have no way of confirming this with the vendor’s license management software.

So, when an organization acquires OpenLM, they usually start off by monitoring license usage and whether there are surplus licenses. They can now identify idle licenses, that is licenses that have been booked out, but are not being used. These licenses can now be freed up for other users by “harvesting” them, suspending the user’s session and putting the license back in the pool.

One of the ironies of license management for engineering software is that the IT business unit has to budget for the software licenses but does not actually use the software. With our software, it is possible to identify license usage by group or department and charge the costs back to where the software is actually being used. This usually results in further cost savings, because the manager of that group or department will be making sure that his users are economical when they book out licenses, because he is responsible for those costs.

However, it is not just about reducing costs: there comes a time when more licenses are needed. Early warning signs include:-

  • advance warning of a new project starting soon
  • the time for contract renewal for the software is coming up
  • the high water mark (or peak usage) is getting close to the maximum number of licenses on a daily basis
  • the number of “true” denials is increasing (a true denial is either one where a user repeatedly retries to book out a license with several attempts without success, despite the license manager accessing every server to find one. The situation where an attempt was denied but the next retry was successful, and the user and his work are not impacted is not counted as a “true” denial. For instance, if the license manager could not find an available license on the first server interrogated, but did find one on the second or subsequent server, this is not a true denial, because the impact was negligible).

While our standard reporting provides useful input for the decision to acquire more licenses, we felt that there was place for a report to help decide whether new licenses are needed and how many. This new report has been added to our Reporting Hub extension.

Our new addition to the Reporting Hub

There are 3 sections to this report and you can select a wide range of filters to get different views. Along the bottom of the screen are time dimensions and to the left of the screen are software, user and workstation parameters. The reporting is granular down to software feature level, which is especially useful where additional license costs for advanced features are part of the license agreement. Let’s look at the report content.

The report at the top of the screen gives statistics on each feature of the application, how often the feature was checked out and how many denials were encountered. It then analyses the denials and provides two denials ratios, the number of users denied and the number of denials. The features are ranked by the denials ratio in descending order. You will see that the feature at the top, “GMS4050_ufunc_exe” was never checked out, as every attempt was denied. This would be typical of a feature that was not purchased under the license agreement or a specialized feature that is only accessible by a select few users.

We can already see from the ratios that the comfort zone for this license pool has been exceeded and that more licenses are needed. If we look at the graph at the bottom left-hand side, it shows us that the rate of denials is very high and that users are experiencing multiple denials, because the number of denials is up to 4 times the number of users. The value of “12” on the left-hand  side of the report is the number of additional licenses required to get a better balance of supply and demand. There will still be some denials, but there will be a reduction of 80%, which gets us back to an acceptable ratio.

The graph at the right hand side confirms our first impression. You can see that the concurrent usage high water mark often meets the number of licenses in the pool and this is when denials start occurring during the day. It is definitely time to start considering more licenses. What is nice about this report is that it is a clear demonstration of why more licenses are needed

Please contact us if you want to know more about the Reporting Hub or any of our other software products.

Managing Licenses on the Edge – Flexera’s New product

The exploding growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought massive change to license and security management. Even the smallest sensor has one or more software drivers, and there is growing recognition that the true value in the device or product lies in its use and the execution of the embedded software, rather than the device itself. New revenue models based on consumption rather than sale of capital-intensive assets are being adopted by industrial device and product manufacturers. Manufacturers of CT scanners recognise that small-scale hospitals and clinics cannot afford the capex for their hardware, so an alternative where the scanner is leased and the hospital is charged when scans are done is becoming popular. This has created a move to licenses embedded in the devices side-by-side with the software that drives the device. There are billions of “things” that are already connected via the Internet, and the volumes are increasing exponentially. This has created a new challenge, managing the data.

The Data Avalanche and How to Contain it

All the machines participating in the IoT have one purpose, to feed back data to a central source. This is creating huge volumes of data which are measured in petabytes and zettabytes. In principle, this data is streamed back via the cloud to data centers located in remote sites across the globe. In reality this model does not work:-

  • not all data gathered by a sensor is required real-time
  • Distance is not dead; the time taken to transmit a message to a data center and receive a reply may not meet requirements, especially because it is the cloud provider that directs the message, not the owner or vendor of the sensor
  • Some data is very time-critical, and needs low latency to get a response to the message, for instance, a pacemaker sensing a pending cardiac arrest needs an immediate reaction
  • Many devices are kept offline, due to security or connectivity constraints
  • Each connected device is a cyber risk which could allow hackers to infiltrate the main ecosystem

The answer to mitigate these risks is edge computing and edge computers.

What is Edge Computing and will it Destroy the Cloud?

Edge (or fog) computing takes processing close to the device (Fog computing is a descriptive synonym for edge computing, coined by Cisco, and while there are differences in how fog and edge network, the principles are basically the same, so we use edge here to cover both edge and fog).

Edge is both a halfway house to the cloud and a pre-processor that can return a response to the device in time-critical situations. There are those that believe that edge computers will displace cloud computing, while others believe that the two will always co-exist. Typical edge hardware is designed for high availability and very powerful, with GPUs to process data rapidly. Obviously, to perform as required, it needs its own software for various activities, including:-

  • polling sensors to send data,
  • evaluating and consolidating the data (rather like the ETL of a data warehouse)
  • application processing for time-critical responses (e.g. avoiding an accident for an autonomous vehicle)
  • and even AI and machine learning to provide business intelligence and to improve its own performance.

Where there is software, there must be a license, which must be managed, and Flexera have identified the need and devised a solution.

Flexera Edge – Managing Connected and Unconnected Devices

The development of a product to manage licenses on the edge makes good sense, when you consider this statement made by Gartner in 2017.

Currently, around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2022, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 50 percent.

They recently revised this statement (October 2018).

Currently, around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud. By 2022, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 75 percent.

IDC, in their predictions for IoT for 2018 stated

Prediction 7: By 2020, IT Spend on Edge Infrastructure Will Reach up to 18% of the Total Spend on IoT Infrastructure, Driven by Deployments of Converged IT/OT Systems That Reduce the Time to Value of Data Collected from Their Connected Devices

This, coupled with the concerns about Cyberthreats mentioned in the same report, makes it extermely good sense to be focusing on edge computing as the place where asset, entitlement and license management should be happening:-

Prediction 1: By 2020, the Potential Cybersecurity and Physical Safety Concerns Associated with IoT Devices Will Pressure CIOs at G2000 Companies to Increase IoT Security Spending by up to 25%, Temporarily Neutralizing Business Productivity Gains

Flexera have heeded the call and developed a product for managing devices at the edge.

The reasoning behind the product is simple:-

  • There already are billions of devices out there that need software enhancements and fixes updated. Some of these updates may be very occasional, but other devices may require updates daily or even more frequently.
  • The zettabytes of data reaching the edge should be aggregated and analysed and the distilled result should be relayed up to the cloud. This implies that edge computers will carry their own portfolio of software that enables them to perform AI and self-learn.
  • The customization of devices by applying rules in embedded software within the device as to what features the organization or even a single user signed up for, means that universal updates are no longer viable.
  • Entitlement management has to be applied in conjunction with the software update
  • Managing this from the cloud is impractical and unwieldy, because there are so many devices to which updates must be streamed.
  • Managing this manually is completely impossible.
  • Keeping software current is just not good enough; for some industries, it has to be proven that the latest release is the one being used. This is a requirement from the FDA, but may well be taken up by other authorities.
  • All the above applies to disconnected devices too.

An edge computer is the best platform for managing and controlling the software assets of devices that network to it. It can manage the updates for both connected and disconnected devices, without opening them up to cyberrisk, report on the current state of its IoT community, what software versions are out there, who is actually using them and which features and alert to any aberrations.

This means that the edge computer itself must be extremely secure and resistant to threats and attacks. From a physical perspective, and because many edge devices are situated in industrial locations, the computers themselves are ruggedized and housed in protective cages and lockers. Logically, there must be a resilient and resistant security infrastructure that will ward off cyber attacks within the edge computer logic. If the edge computer is secure, the devices it manages have a reduced risk of attack. If there is a direct attack on a device, the edge computer should be able to quarantine it and prevent the virus or infection from spreading.

Changing the Licensing Landscape

The traditional licensing landscape is still adapting to the changes imposed by factors such as cloud computing, BYOD and embedded software. The traditional setup of the on-site license server that controls perpetual and named licenses is inappropriate for the IoT, and will have to make way for new models that permit edge computers to oversee license and entitlement. While the emphasis is on monetizing the software that drive the IoT devices, the administration of who owns the licenses, what their entitlements are  and what software version they are using still need to be managed. A consolidated view of the feedback of all the edge computers for the organization is also a necessity. There will be many new licensing and asset management products reaching the market in the next few years as the demand for applications that can manage IoT licensing and entitlement grows, joining Flexera in this new niche.