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.

Fake news in the software industry

We got a surprising email from a customer this week. A long time very loyal customer that received an offer from a competitor, as following:

Over the years OpenLM has provided exceptional support and a product that has met my needs.

I was approached by a competitor and have no idea how they discovered we are your customer but they knew.

As part of their sales pitch, they sent me the attached “White Paper. I would never refer to such as a “White Paper”. White papers are scholarly factual descriptions of how a product or process functions to provide service or meet it’s goal. Most of what they sent is a potentially libelous slam that uses semantics to phrase claims in a light that benefits their product. If you have not seen it, you should look it over.

You can find the document sent to our customer in the following link.

The paper was written by Guy D. Haas, BS, MBA, President, TeamEDA, Inc.

While I got an advice to seek for a legal assistance we thought that we better let you judge. Unlike the writer of the paper we value our customers as being smart and professionals – not naive. The only cure we know for Fake news is Fact-checking and this is what we are going to do in this article. We are looking forward to getting your feedback about it.

In total I collected 38 claims from the document and decided to stop at this point. All the claims that can be categories with Incorrect/Correct are shown in the following table. In total 3 out of the 38 claims are correct, in total 90% are incorrect claims. After the table I will discuss claims that can’t be categorized by a simple Incorrect/correct (you can skip to this part using this link).

 

Fact-checking table:

# Claim Correct? Fact
1 OpenLM does not support Asset/Inventory Management Incorrect We provide comprehensive inventory management – links
2 Contact Management Correct We don’t provide contact management
3 OpenLM does not support mapping of features to products Incorrect Fully supported – link
4 OpenLM does not support Feature Name Aliasing Incorrect Fully supported – Link
5 OpenLM does not provide support for Concurrency or Heatmap Graphs, or Zero Use or Group Usage Tables Incorrect Fully supported – link
6 OpenLM does not provide Batch Reports Incorrect Fully supported – link
7 OpenLM release new version 3-4 times a month Incorrect OpenLM transparently document each software release in our site and one can easily see that this is incorrect.
8 OpenLM is low quality due to lack of testing Incorrect OpenLM holds an inhouse QA team of 4 people and also employs automatic QA software
9 OpenLM customers are required to upgrade monthly Incorrect OpenLM customers get a very stable product and need to upgrade based on resolved issues/new functionality needed. OpenLM is using Agile development methods that allows us to provide fast response to customers.
10 OpenLM support is only in Israel Incorrect OpenLM has support centers in different timezones to provide global 24/6 support – see further discussion bellow
11 OpenLM does not provide support in English Incorrect OpenLM US support team are English native employees of OpenLM Inc. (US company) – see discussion
12 OpenLM support is only accessible by email Incorrect OpenLM support is accessible by phone (toll free US number:  +1-866-806-2068, Online chat (Link), Support online form (link) and email
13 OpenLM cannot and will not provide any on-site support Incorrect OpenLM does provide on-site support, not only in the US but also worldwide
14 OpenLM cannot support a Dashboard Incorrect OpenLM does have a dashboard and it can be configured using our role based security system – Link
15 OpenLM reports are not accessible using a hyperlink Incorrect OpenLM provides links into specific reports – see discussion
16 .NET does not allow URL-based report creation. Incorrect A claim about .NET technology which is totally wrong. “URL based report” can be implemented with almost any development language
17 OpenLM can’t support big companies with best practices Incorrect OpenLM has more than 1000 customers with thousands of employees. 10% of our customers are in the Fortune 1000 list. We also have prominent customers in the public sector and academia.
18 OpenLM only offers a cheap solution for basic usage monitoring. Incorrect Companies who use OpenLM to monitor Catia, Siemens PLM, hundreds of CAD licenses and advanced simulation software are looking for a lot more than basic monitoring. – link to case studies
19 OpenLM is cheap and can’t invest in development Incorrect OpenLM’s development team has more than 20 full-time developers
20 OpenLM is cheap and can’t invest in support Incorrect OpenLM support team is 6 people strong and provides 24/6 coverage worldwide. Most customers call on us only occasionally for support, because of the stability of our core product and they find it very easy to use
21 Idle license harvesting is not legal Incorrect It is the customer’s right to close the software when it’s not in use
22 Harvesting an idle license is dangerous Incorrect The term “dangerous” does not seem to be valid here. Note that OpenLM provides the option to save before closing the application.
23 OpenLM requires an agent Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an optional software component
24 OpenLM Agent is required to be installed on servers Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an application for end users workstations not for servers
25 OpenLM must be installed on each workstation Incorrect OpenLM Agent is an optional component which many of our customers choose to install thanks to the huge benefits it brings them
26 OpenLM Agent must be installed on each license server Incorrect OpenLM Agent for the license manager (OpenLM Broker) is optional and the system can function without it. By installing it, the customer is getting advanced functionality
27 Installing OpenLM “open up your network, License Servers, and Workstations to a company in Israel?” Incorrect Installing OpenLM on-premise does not expose our customer’s information to us. Our software does not send anything outside the organization, and we respect all data privacy legislation globally.
28 There really is no way to monitor usage of node-locked licenses Incorrect OpenLM has supported this functionality for the last 8 years
29 OpenLM License Allocation Manager uses FLEXlm Options Files capabilities to manage allocations Correct Correct, we are utilizing and enhancing the built-in functionality – link to product page
30 OpenLM (does not have) any daemon management capability other than maybe editing Option files, and that is questionable. Incorrect OpenLM provides: reread, start, stop, upload license files, download any logs and more
31 Software architecture is determine by development language Incorrect There is no tie between development language and architecture
32 Java  and PHP is a more flexible framework compare to .NET Incorrect If I purchase an application, the coding is irrelevant in most cases, as a customer I want a working product. OpenLM does use Java, check this article
33 Java and PHP allows url-based report generation while .NET does not Incorrect This capability is not related to the development language but to the software architecture (OpenLM is using the SPA concept)
34 .NET is only Windows Incorrect This claim is against Microsoft and inaccurate.  The new version of .NET – .NET Core is platform independent and we are switching to it.
35 OpenLM does not offer Linux solution Incorrect From the beginning, in 2007 we fully supported license servers running on any platform either by direct query or by cross platform agent
36 OpenLM does not have offices all over the world Incorrect OpenLM has physical offices in Israel and Europe.
37 OpenLM main location for development is Israel Correct We are proud to have our main development center in Israel
36 OpenLM’s main location for support is Israel Incorrect We would be proud if that was true  but in order to provide best quality support we have more representatives around the world
37 OpenLM website links don’t go anywhere Incorrect We hate dead links with a passion and if you are unlucky enough to encounter one, on our site, please let us know!

Stay tuned for the upcoming launch of our new even “more comprehensive” website !

38 OpenLM makes a lot of false claims about functionality and performance Incorrect OpenLM stands by its word regarding functionality and performance. We support the world’s biggest configurations – link

More Claims

Few of the claims that I am not able to answer with a Incorrect/correct answer so I would like to refer to it here:

Claim: “OpenLM is a small Israeli company, who seems to cater to small naive companies, where low price is the #1 consideration. Not sure how long they have been in business, or if they are profitable. Hard to imagine since they can’t be generating that much revenue.”

There are multiple claims here:

OpenLM is a small Israeli company: The term small is relative, you can be small compared to another company. Yes, we are small compared to Apple. OpenLM is actually a group of three companies: OpenLM LTD, OpenLM Inc. and OPENLM SOFTWARE S.R.L.. The groups employ more than 40 workers worldwide at the time of writing this document, and we are currently expanding our workforce.

OpenLM seems to cater to small naive companies:  “Small” is relative and size is no indication of company expertise, skills and market share. Everyone has to start somewhere and we recognise and value our SME customers just as much as our large corporates. Our customers are also very worldly wise – naive companies would not be investing in license management software, as they understand the risks of compliance.

We are very proud of our loyal customer base, which includes some of the leading organizations in the following industries:-

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Construction and Architecture
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and Gas
  • Research
  • Technology

to mention a few.

We also provide services to the public sector, from local authorities to government entities, including US Defense bodies.

Through our University Program, we have a strong academic customer base, with at least 20 of the global top 200 universities that we are delighted to have as customers, as this is where our customers of the future are being educated in the use of engineering and scientific software.

As to size, we have customers who employ thousands of employees globally and whose brands are instantly recognizable.

Not sure how long they are in business: OpenLM has been in business from 2009 as a company. The operation started 2 years before incorporation as a project within another company. As of 2019, we have been in the market for 12 years.

Not sure if OpenLM is profitable: Thanks for your concern, we are doing well.

 

Other claims I would only want to refer to briefly (these are not a Incorrect/Correct response):

  1. It does not make sense to monitor node locked licenses – Read the following articles, links 1 2
  2. OpenLM Agent is capable of monitoring keyboard, mouse and cpu, which degrades system performance – Any software that you might install on your workstation will degrade performance. Taking it to the extreme, if you don’t install anything, you will have the best performance and security but no functionality, so perhaps you should also turn off the power as well. Many of our customers decided to implement OpenLM Agent because of the value it brings to the table and they feel that any performance degradation (which is minimal) is worth it. By the way, OpenLM does not directly monitor keyboard, mouse activity.
  3. Idle license harvesting is intrusive/not legal/dangerous – There are many limitations that companies impose on their workers, and have written policies stating these limitations. They are not allowed to install any software they want, to access any site, to store content and more. The equipment of the company is dedicated to work and companies expect their employees to use it as such. Although these actions are intrusive most people agree they are reasonable. Our customers view the expensive engineering software as a company resource, that should be used as such. When it’s not in use, they expect it to be released to another user that needs it. This is a feature we support. It is not a default, it is up to the customer to implement it or not for one or more of their software applications. I assisted many companies to implement this functionality and most end users are thankful for implementing it, it improves the availability of the applications they need and saves money for their companies. Installing OpenLM Agent and harvesting idle licenses is legal and implemented by OpenLM customers worldwide. In Europe, Germany has the most restrictive legislation regarding user privacy and for them, we introduced a specific functionality that addresses any possible privacy concerns.
  4. Software release policy – OpenLM typically releases two major software releases per year. We do also release minor software releases based on new functionality and software issues we are resolving. Typically most software issues don’t affect every user and most users can skip a few releases and only install software releases that are relevant to them. Our quality system is constantly developing and consists of both automatic and manual testing. We also have a load testing infrastructure that allows us to mimic real customer loads up to 400 monitored license server ports, 25,000 concurrent users and query activity via the user interface. I think that a company that releases new versions of its software shows that it is constantly evolving and that it cares about its customers.

In general, a software comparison written by a competitor himself is always biased so most users will read it carefully. OpenLM also drafted one as per the request of our customers but we did that with a very careful approach, consulting the competitor website and users. We always invite users to correct us if we are wrong, and immediately implement comments we receive. I invite you to examine the result.

There is also another white paper from the same author comparing his software to FLEXnet for Engineering Applications. As a service I also share it with you.

Before I summarize this long document I would like to refer to the main claim of the author of this white paper. When  you buy expensive software you get high quality. Cheaper software will give you lower quality, functionality and performance. This is a very simplified view of the market, most people understand that pricing policies are much more complex and involve many different considerations. Most companies check the software offered to them, comparing functionality, performance and pricing and looking for the best ratio – value for money. It also applies to other fields as well, take Ikea as an example, you get very high quality items if you are willing to compromise on the uniqueness. When you do, you get the best value for your money.

We in OpenLM, decided we would like to bring our technology to as many companies as possible, introducing a very aggressive pricing model. Mr. Haas is not the first competitor that complains about our policy, another competitor came to our offices and explained why he thinks this is not good for the market, and had an offer for us. We listened, discussed and decided to refuse but we have respect for this person and the company that he represents.  

 

Summary

I have nothing to say about author’s company or software. In general we prefer that the customer himself will do the evaluation and make the decision. I just have to mention that in 2013 he contacted us and asked our permission to use OpenLM Engine to extract the data from the license servers. His plan was to replace the engine he was using as white label until then. This deal did not happen but knowing this I was very surprised to read this document.

Since we released the first version of OpenLM in 2007 we decided that we will allow everyone to download and install our software and let the best company win.

If you are not already a user of OpenLM Software I personally invite you to download our software and judge the claims for yourself. We are offering a wide variety of options to interact with our technology:

  • Download our on-premise installation
  • Open a SaaS account with minimal install of OpenLM broker on the license server.
  • OpenLM Parser premium provides the ability to receive usage data with zero installation

OpenLM Support will provide full support during the evaluation process of the software. We are available to support you by email, chat and phone. I invite you to try our software and service and share your experience with the community.

There is one claim that I fully agree with: by implementing a software assets management for your engineering licenses you can save 20% of your expenses, furthermore, some of our customers who also implemented some of the advanced functionality, like software harvesting, managed to save a lot more.

Are you an OpenLM Customer? I will be grateful if you drop a response here. We are willing to get both positive and negative feedback and improve accordingly. If you prefer not to comment here our customer success representative will be happy to speak with you in person (click here to leave a message).

Oren Gabay – CEO, OpenLM