Bentley Software Licensing Reviewed

When it comes to engineering software, one of the most widely-known companies is Bentley Systems. A large population of engineering software users have used Bentley Microstation in their time for 2D and 3D CAD, Projectwise for managing the project or Assetwise for managing the assets. In addition to these generic products, Bentley provides software for most engineering disciplines, from products like Inroads for civil engineering and Substation for power utilities to visualization and imaging tools such as Descartes.

Purchasers of Bentley products have a couple of licensing options available to them, perpetual or term. Users can select either option, or use them in conjunction, depending on which model suits them better.

  • Perpetual license. Unlike some other vendors, Bentley claims to have no intention of dispensing with the perpetual licensing model. With this licensing model, a set number of licenses are purchased annually.  This is ideal for managing a fixed license base, such as a drafting office, where a set number of users  log into the software regularly but not all at the same time. The perpetual license is based on concurrent usage, also known as pooling. Some customers have expressed concerns that Bentley may discontinue the concurrent user model, but the company has put out reassurances that they have no intention of discontinuing concurrent usage. Bentley’s assessment of what constitutes concurrent usage can be a little complex to grasp; we will return to this later.
  • Term license. A term license is a short-term alternative that works well for extra demand because of a new project, where the demand is expected to fall away once the project is completed. A term license is a subscription-based license, which is based on pay-per-use.
  • “Select”. In order to provide an option where customers can use a combination of the two models, Bentley has come up with “Select” which can manage a portfolio of licenses.Users have to register as a Select user in all circumstances and license monitoring is reported to one or more Select servers, which are installed on site.

How Bentley Calculates Concurrent Usage.

At first glance, Bentley’s concurrent usage model appears quite equitable. For each day, it monitors how many licenses are booked out for each ten minutes of each hour of the day and records this on the Select server. Special allowance is given to very short-term and accidental usage. If a user books out a license in error, or for less than 10 minutes, those first ten minutes are excluded from the license count. This calculation used to be based on usage per-hour, for example, from 8:00-8:59. Now it works from 08:00-08:09. The change has caused some confusion among customers. The server aggregates all usage per 10 minute period and determines the peak number of devices concurrently using the software in that day for a particular timeslot. This peak usage is used by Bentley for billing purposes. There is a video on Bentley’s site which you can watch to get a more detailed understanding of their system .

Geographic Limitations

Bentley only grants perpetual licenses per country, which may make the management of concurrent usage simpler, with a Select Server per country. What happens where a country includes several time-zones is not so clear, for instance, where there is an office running on Pacific time and another office using Eastern Standard time.

Causes for Concern

While Bentley believes that their method of calculating concurrent usage is equitable, this view is not shared by all its customers. One of the limitations of Bentley’s license management is that it does not issue a denial of service when a new user books out a license above the concurrent usage maximum contractually agreed upon. Secondly, it does not proactively advise the customer of licenses that have been booked out and are lying idle. Thirdly, and most importantly, using the highest peak usage as a basis for billing does not align with true pay-per use.

Customers are not keeping quiet about this, and have expressed their feelings on the Bentley community website. One customer explained how they used only ten of their 24 licenses concurrently during one day. However, if one user books software out a few minutes before the ten-minute start period, and another user logs out a few minutes after a ten minute period, both of these are included in the peak calculation. In this instance, Bentley calculated a peak usage of 16 licences. Another customer claimed to have been billed for usage on a computer that is not registered anywhere in his network; whether the claim is justified or not doesn’t change the fact that customers are expressing doubts about the accuracy or fairness of the billing algorithm.

Managing the Costs of a Bentley Relationship

The challenge of limiting costs when using Bentley tools has some administrators keeping a very tight rein on who can access the tools as well as maintaining a watchful brief on idle licenses that have been booked out. Bentley does give pointers as to how the customer can monitor and optimize usage, which requires changing some settings in the Bentley set-up, and there is reporting after the event which can be used for future trimming of costs. However, this doesn’t give the customer full control over the licensing costs. Customers would be happier if they could get functions like  

  • monitoring usage per license per minute
  • warning when concurrent usage is at its maximum
  • “harvesting” idle licenses, by suspending the session and freeing the license.
  • providing accurate usage values so that the administrator can optimize the bouquet of licenses held, and determine whether term licenses may not be more appropriate in some cases.

So it seems there are some rumblings from customers that Bentley needs to address, especially in the light of their recent initiative to convince Autodesk users to swap to Bentley, now that Autodesk has changed its policy on perpetual licences. While there are some customers who say the model works for them, its success and equitability is very dependent on the type of engineering concern and how they work. The fact that Bentley does not limit usage over the agreed base does not make life easier for the customer.

OpenLM is a software audit and management system for engineering software licenses for more information Contact us or get a free 30-day trial.

6 Ways to Save Money on Engineering Software

The high cost of engineering software programs is a pain-point for many organizations from multi-nationals to small company engineering shops. Paradoxically, many of these companies do not have effective mechanisms in place to monitor their software inventory and usage; they may for example have multiple agreements in place with the same vendor for the same software.

Our CEO was astonished when, in a recent conversation with one of the world’s largest engineering companies, they admitted that they did not have a clue about what engineering software they had on board. The fact that the cost of an idle engineer far outweighs the cost of acquiring another licence is often given as justification for how such a situation can arise but this is not a justifiable reason for non-management of your software assets.

Inadequate software management often starts at the planning phase. Bidding for and winning contracts can take months, if not years, and desk studies, project plans and resource scheduling is done long before the project is started. Furthermore, until the licenses are finally acquired, conditions and circumstances may well have changed, and the documented predicted software usage may no longer be current. A danger of over-licensing at the organizational level exists when there is a lack of centralized license control, where projects are estimated without taking into account the economics of using software that is currently lying unused within the parent organization, or will become free by the time the new project gets under way.

Software license control should be part of the CIO’s portfolio and if there was effective centralized licensing monitoring control in place, the points raised below would probably not arise. Centralized software license management may take time to implement, but should bring about a marked reduction in engineering software spend. There is some admin work required but this is a small price to pay in exchange for knowing how your software is being utilized across the organization.

While license monitoring has become a complex task in recent years, there are software licensing tools available that reduce the time and cost overheads and offer the potential for impressive cost savings. These actions will also reduce the risk of non-compliance fines in the case of a software audit (see our post on software compliance). To get you started with rethinking your license spend, here are five approaches that can optimize software usage throughout your company without increasing the risk of denial-of-service to your most valuable assets, your engineers.

1.   Know What You Have

This is an essential part of centralizing responsibility. Unearthing all your instances of engineering software licenses is a challenge, especially where they were bought for projects that have completed, or were used in a different geographical location, where they may have been purchased from the local representative of the vendor. If you do not have a clear idea of what software you own, your chances of being found non-compliant in a software audit are higher. It’s not such a great idea to rely on your vendor for accurate licence management either; you should always keep your own records. And, once you have catalogued all your licenses for a vendor , you may be in a position to work out a better deal, especially where they appear to have been overzealous in selling you licenses, which leads us to the next point.

2.   Timely and Organized Renewals Can Save Money

Multiple instances of licenses for the same product do occur and sometimes cannot be avoided, especially where you are operating multi-nationally and are receiving support from the vendor’s local offices. This is the time to formulate a strategy for your vendor relationship. You do not want to be in a position where you have multiple renewal dates for your CAD engineering software, for example. If you can identify all the instances of licenses for a particular vendor, you can work out a solution that requires only one renewal per annum and will help you root out licenses you do not need. Resolving this situation also helps ensure that you are software compliant with that vendor. Multiple license agreements is associated also with the problem of multiple license managers.

3.   Multiple instances of the same license managers

This happens more frequently than you might think. A typical case is where the mechanical engineering department purchased some CAD licenses a few years ago and the maintenance is still renewed. Subsequently the electrical engineering department purchased the same software for a specific project, followed by the civil engineering department. The acquisition of another engineering company that uses the same CAD software in Asia adds another layer of complexity. The CAD vendor supplies a license manager with each sale, resulting in 4 different license managers being installed and administered by 4 different business units. Maintaining multiple license managers for the same vendor gives rise to:

  • Unbalanced license availability – Some departments may suffer from high demand and license denials while others may have many unused (or “shelf”) licenses.
  • Ineffective utilization of licenses – It is not possible to optimise the license utilization across these separate license managers for each vendor.

License server consolidation is a measure that can simplify license management and provide substantial savings and additionally improve utilization efficiency of your licenses.

4.   Use some Machine Intelligence

While vendors may or may not provide a license manager to manage your use of their products, you do not want to be in a situation where you do not have a comprehensive single view of all the licensed software tools you have purchased. In a study by Opinion Matters, it was found that over 50% of companies who did perform some form of license internal control used spreadsheets for this purpose. This is not an effective license monitoring method because while you might have all the products in one list, it tells you nothing about utilization, idle software or denials-of-service to frustrated engineers. OpenLM on the other hand is a self monitoring and internal audit solution that can help get control of the software you have in your organization and its usage, that extends way beyond mere inventory. One of these is monitoring of individual usage of licences, and the ability to control license hogging, which is our fifth pointer.

5.   Ensure Equitable Use of Software

Engineers typically use several software tools available to them today in the engineering space. Some of them like to have them constantly close to hand, even when they are not using them and will book out a license at the start of day whether they intend to use the software or not. If the license admin had the ability to find software that has been booked out and is lying idle, suspend the idle session and free up the license (license harvesting), software hoarding could be eliminated. This is a valuable feature, especially during periods of peak usage. It will no doubt cause some negative reaction from the software hoarder initially, but it will soon be recognised that the software library is there to be shared with others in the company and the discipline of only booking out software when it is needed will gradually become ingrained in the organization. Managing idle licenses effectively will help you to identify whether you really need to purchase more licenses of your preferred CAD engineering or simulation software or not.

6.   We did an Optimization in the Past

Finally, some admins are under the mistaken impression that license optimization carried out several years ago is sufficient to tide them through till the foreseeable future. New projects, completed projects and mergers and acquisitions will all affect the licensing status quo. Reviewing and administering the software portfolio and the licenses that support it is a continuous task.

In Conclusion

We have briefly described some ways to enhance productivity and reduce costs through dedicated license monitoring and management. In addition, you should be able to reduce risk of unplanned fines from failed software audits and from delayed projects by demonstrating software compliance and reducing denials-of-service respectively.

OpenLM is a software audit and management system for engineering software licenses for more information Contact us or get a free 30-day trial.

 

 

Software License Compliance – A Manager’s Guide

Software licensing compliance used to be a fairly straightforward business. You could purchase a license per user or a site license, and vendors made sure you complied to their license by using physical or virtual license keys, which were usually linked to a particular computer. In addition, you paid an annual maintenance fee that both gave you support and validated your license usage for the duration of the maintenance period. This arrangement was simple to manage but the simplicity has eroded over time. One complication came when the concept of concurrent usage was launched. This is a licensing model that allows you a maximum number of users of the software at the same time, which became popular with organizations for their expensive software (such as engineering software) as it was more cost-effective. The dawn of services in the cloud has added new complexities to licensing; most cloud-based software is subscription based, either on an annualised basis or pay-per-use.

While careful selection and use of these more complex options can result in savings, the management of licenses and compliance to the various restrictions imposed by vendors has created headaches for CIOs. All too often the processes and practices required for managing licenses fall short of the disciplines in other aspects of IT, such as security, managing hardware assets and access control, and this creates risk in the organization. In some jurisdictions where there has been a lapse in compliance, managers and other officers of the company who were responsible for the governance of  software compliance management have been held personally liable.

Vendor Software Audits for Software Licensing Compliance

The methods of identifying software compliance have developed too. In the days before global connectivity, auditing for software compliance was put in the hands of some bodies formed by an association of vendors, such as the BSA (Business Software Alliance), who were incorporated to prevent software piracy. These bodies still exist today and still use the same software audit methods to check up on software compliance, with added channels like encouraging whistleblowers to come forward with information about possible infractions by their employers. Vendors also check on actual usage both in the cloud and by interrogating the customer’s server or servers from where users are granted access, using their own software audit tools.

Non-Compliance can Occur Unintentionally

No manager wants to be non-compliant, but being out of compliance can happen all too easily,   even where controls would appear to be in place. Some of the pitfalls that can trap the unwary include:-

  • A lack of centralized control of software licenses. There are often different silos within a company that manage traditional office software, IT-specific software and specialized software, such as engineering tools. Furthermore, engineering concerns can have different silos for civil, electrical and process engineering, not to mention R&D.
  • No comprehensive policy and process for software asset management. The BSA found that 65% of companies did not have these in place in a report published in 2014.
  • A lack of awareness within the workforce.
  • Exceeding the concurrent usage maximum where the vendor has not provided sufficient automation to limit usage.
  • The license was issued for a specific geographic location, and is being used outside that region. This is often the result of a complex vendor pricing structure, such as one differentiated by region – e.g. EMEA and APAC. In such cases the customer’s portfolio may only be viable for that region, and cannot be used beyond its boundaries.
  • The license was provided for a specific scope of use and the customer is using it outside this boundary. This is especially a problem with ERPs and large, complex software suites. The business needs of the 21st century place pressure on companies to re-gear their business models, which can also cause a misalignment between what was bought and how it is currently used. SAP for example recently won a huge claim against their customer Diageo, in which all the software in question had been legally purchased for millions of dollars, but the devil was in the detail of a very complex contract.
  • Usage by contractors and employees on devices that are not part of the company asset register.
  • Usage past renewal date. Licenses do not all expire on the same date and not all vendors remind the client timeously.
  • Changes in organizational structure. Mergers and acquisitions, unbundling and other forms of restructuring often neglect the management of software licenses when splitting up or consolidating asset registers.

If any of these issues have arisen in your environment, and you are not aware of them, your organization could be exposed to both financial and reputational risk. In 2013, PWC estimated that approximately 80% of software customers had instances of non-compliance of licensed software .

What the Vendor Provides

One of the factors making software compliance so difficult is that vendors do not always provide adequate tools to help their customers, although it would appear to be in their best interests to do so. New features can be introduced by vendors via the latest software releases without reviewing the effect they can have on existing licensing conditions. Where vendors are changing to a pay-per-use model and retiring earlier offerings, such as perpetual licenses, some customers are faced with different compliance regimes for the same vendor. For instance, under the old concurrent usage model, the user had access to the complete application. If the customer purchases an additional pay-per-use option with a maximum of ten seats, this could be a basic version that excludes some of the features available in the full package.

When it comes to engineering software, licenses are generally expensive, and engineers require a plethora of software tools to get their work done, from generic CAD software to specialized products for failure analysis, lightning protection, 3D-imaging, to name just a few. Most major engineering software vendors such as AutoDesk and Siemens use Flexera for their license management, as do other large vendors, such as Adobe and IBM. Flexera is robust and will give a generally good overview of your compliance, but it may not pick up infractions such as an ex-contractor or employee who still has a loaded copy of your expensive engineering software on his own laptop.

Vendors are not very forgiving when it comes to non-compliance, and they are increasingly applying pressure in this regard. It is advisable to get all your ducks in a row as soon as possible, a spot software audit by the BSA or the SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) could be an unpleasant and costly exercise if you are not in compliance with licensing agreements. . There are many cases against customers ranging from the US Army to SMEs, and, while most settlements are out-of-court, they can stunt a company’s growth or even close it down.

When Elephants Fight: SAP vs Anheuser-Busch

ERP company SAP obviously has a strategy in place to rein in some of its largest customers. Following on a settlement with Diageo in February this year, where SAP won, they have now taken on the brewing giant for an estimated $600-million in damages for non-compliance. There is an African proverb; “When elephants fight, the jungle gets trampled”. It is quite likely that the software compliance landscape could look very different after this dispute. When it is considered that ABI has just completed the world’s largest M&A by acquiring SAB-Miller, it is quite likely that the software licensing issues internally still have to be put to bed.

The case with Diageo will give cause for concern to many SAP clients. Diageo wanted to provide their customers with a new self-service function, which  they could access via their SalesForce portal. Diageo used the SAP API to interface their Salesforce CRM with the SAP Business Suite and access the data required. SAP’s argument was that these users were outside the ambit of the agreement of the Business Suite, and by providing data from the Business Suite to power the Salesforce integration, Diageo was infringing their agreement with SAP and the court agreed.

The fact that SAP feels it necessary to tackle its very largest customers, seemingly in a position of strength, because all its clients are locked in to the ERP, have made massive investments in time and money and cannot just migrate to another product overnight or even over the next 12 months, is a wake-up call for the rest of the market.

Internal Software Audits

Below is a list of recommended best practices of what you can do to keep your compliance in good order .

  • Appoint a dedicated license administration function in your organization, if you do not already have one.
  • Scope and prioritize. For instance, you may want to start with office software or engineering software, and add other disciplines later. You may want to perform this exercise in several tranches.
  • Unearth all instances of software that your organization has paid for and find the associated contracts, if possible. Find the accompanying invoices and proof of payment.
  • Identify who, if anyone, is using the software, where, on what hardware and why.
  • Build a centralized software asset register and a diary of upcoming renewal dates.
  • Capture all the business rules pertaining to use of each product you have acquired.
  • Define a policy and document a process for software management, if you do not already have one. If you do, review it and make sure it supports the newer licensing models.
  • Create a software audit checklist and run periodic drills to ensure that, in the event of a spot audit, everyone is prepared.
  • Draw up a training program for all employees to understand the implications of non-compliant software and its use.
  • Start a compliance project, to eliminate non-conformance. This could also be a good time to consolidate and make a decision on a preferred vendor and toolset where possible (perhaps you do not need 7 different CAD/CAM tools!).

Implementing a program like this will not just reduce risk, it will put you in control of your licensing arrangements with vendors. However, when it comes to the more complex licence models you are likely to find limitations with manual management using spreadsheets.

OpenLM App Manager

A dedicated software licence management product such as OpenLM App Manager can help you identify the gaps and manage them proactively, increase compliance and reduce risk. OpenLM App Manager actually does much more than observe and monitor compliance; it can also pick up on poor and costly usage of tools and whether your licenses are over- or underutilized. It can help you ensure there is conformance to your software usage policy irrespective of the license management tool used by the vendor. In the cases where the vendor does not provide you with licensing management software for their products, you can use OpenLM to provide the necessary oversight on usage and licenses utilized.

A further advantage of the tool is that of license harvesting, the ability to manually or automatically intervene in user sessions and suspend or cancel them if they are not being used according to the organization’s policy. For more information contact us.

If and When the Auditors come Knocking

If the auditors come knocking, they will want to see documentary evidence of purchase agreements, payments, records of usage as part of the software audit process, so it is best to ensure you have everything they require in printable or hard-copy format. You can also provide your policy and process documentation for them to evaluate and leave them in the hands of your dedicated license management team. This software compliance audit is time-consuming and stressful for all involved, but if you have taken the pre-emptive steps described above, you will increase your resilience against non-compliance and may be able to wave goodbye to a team of disappointed auditors.

OpenLM is a software audit and management system for engineering software licenses for more information Contact us or get a free 30-day trial.

What is Autodesk Token-Flex Licensing?

Over the last year, there has been a steady move from the traditional models of licensing by site, number of concurrent users or number of licenses to consumption-based licensing, or “pay-as-you-go” licensing as it is commonly known. Autodesk has a licensing option based on actual usage, targeted at their enterprise customers, called Token-Flex. While using consumption as a foundation for licensing costs is an interesting model, some users like to do some planning and estimation before moving from their perpetual or other current licensing model.

How Token-Flex Works

Token-Flex Licensing is a fixed-term contract, the expiry date of which can vary from two to five years, based on an agreement between the customer and Autodesk. The customer is then provided with access to the software they require from AutoDesk’s stable. The allocation of licenses is set to 9,999 although this has no real value because pricing is now based on usage rather than number of licenses. Token-Flex works strictly on a per-product basis and does not include suites. After the products are chosen, the customer purchases tokens to run them. There are two token types:

  • Annual tokens, which expire after 365 days if unused.
  • Contract-based tokens, which last for the term of the contract, say three years. As with the annual tokens, any unused tokens will expire at the end of the term.

Each product in the customer’s portfolio has a fixed token “price”, which is generally based on 24 hours of use per user. The token price tends to be higher for more specialized tools; for instance AutoCAD MEP and Revit MEP will have a higher token price than plain old AutoCAD, which ‘costs’ 6 tokens per day currently. The user starts the transaction by withdrawing a certain number of tokens, which gives him the ability to book out the software required. Because tokens are allocated per user for a particular product, a single user has the ability to fire up several instances of the software on different machines, while only paying the daily token price once, i.e. 6 tokens in the case of AutoCAD.

The actual cost per token is negotiated at contract signing; the unit price is tiered, based on number of tokens purchased, with discounting options on large quantities.

Location and Cost

Location is another factor that contributes to the costing model. For instance, if the license server is based in the United States and the software is being checked out in Singapore, with a 12-hour time difference, or in Seoul with a 14 hour difference, the token usage could double up. This is because the 24-hour usage period is linked to the license server location.

Many multinational enterprises will have a distributed license server model due to business continuity, maintenance and availability considerations. While a distributed server model is supported, a redundant server model is not.

Getting the Numbers Right

When deciding whether to move to Token-Flex or remain with the status quo, the user organization needs to estimate its expected token usage over the contract period. Historical license usage is only an indication of future use, but should give a good approximation of the most heavily-used software, such as AutoCAD Civil and AutoCAD Vault for a civil engineering company. Where the enterprise is involved in long-term engineering, such as the building of power stations, the prediction of future use of software tools is more straightforward, as many of the current projects will probably exceed the life of the Autodesk contract. However, this type of enterprise may not require the flexibility of the consumption model, and will need to do their own assessment.

Where an enterprise engages in multiple short-term contracts, forecasting is not so easy, but the flexibility of the token model can be to their advantage. Ideally, the aim is to purchase the best-fit number of tokens for the period under contract, thus minimizing the number of tokens that expire. The number of tokens purchased is linked also to the contract price, so the license administrator has his work cut out for him.

What About Existing Licenses?

Historically the majority of enterprises will have entered into a perpetual licence agreement with Autodesk. In February 2015 Autodesk announced that they were changing their licensing structure to a mainly subscription-based model, with an expected completion of the transition by 31 July 2016. More about this change and its effect on current and future licenses is detailed here:- http://www.autodesk.com/products/perpetual-licenses/perpetual-licenses-faq

The vendor has assured existing perpetual users of ongoing support for their existing licences. Where the user has also purchased a maintenance plan (formerly known as a maintenance subscription), the benefits of the plan will continue for as long as the plan is in force and will be extended for as long as the plan is renewed. When the enterprise enters into a Token-Flex contract, the existing perpetual contract is “frozen” for the period of the consumption contract, and cannot be used by the organization. On termination of the consumption contract, the organization can then elect to enter a new consumption contract or revert to the perpetual contract, in which case it will be reinstated.

Monitoring and Measuring Token-Flex Contracts

The license management of a consumption contract is quite different from the license-based model, and Autodesk has catered for this with a reporting system that is specifically designed to support Token-Flex, known as Core or NLRS (Network License Reporting Service). It must be loaded on each license server, and uploads all report logs to Autodesk. The customer can then see the usage reports online via the Autodesk Account Portal.  

Disclaimer

All information published in this post is based on publicly available sources and may contain discrepancies or interpretations of AutoDesk’s Token-Flex licensing model that are not in accordance with the model currently provided by the vendor. The current and up-to-date terms and conditions of this licensing model are determined by the vendor alone.

OpenLM is a software audit and management system for engineering software licenses for more information Contact us or get a free 30-day trial.

10 Things That Not Everyone Knows About OpenLM

The primary focus of most of our users is on license usage monitoring and reporting to optimize their license-to-user ratios and all this is included in the base product. However, OpenLM has 10 extensions that further enhance the functionality of the product. These extensions are optional software modules and may be purchased if and when needed.

The 10 OpenLM extensions are described briefly below:

OpenLM Reporting Hub

With the OpenLM Reporting Hub, you can sync the OpenLM database to a database dedicated for reporting purposes.

OpenLM Directory Synchronization

The extension lets you import information such as user names and groups from Windows Active Directory.  

OpenLM Active Agent

The OpenLM Active Agent is our license harvesting tool. You can intervene in idle user sessions and either close the session after saving any work or suspend the user’s screen. In both cases, the license is released and returned to the pool.

OpenLM Actual Usage

Get information beyond just license checkout and release times. Know who pulled the license and didn’t use it.

OpenLM Roles and Permissions

The roles and permissions extension lets you allocate OpenLM functionality to different administrators.  

OpenLM Group Usage

Report on usage by groups defined in OpenLM or based on Active Directory OU’s and work groups.

OpenLM License Allocation Manager

Configure options files the easy way without having to open a text editor and work out what’s written there

OpenLM Project Usage

You can get users of engineering software to select the project they are working on when pulling a license.

OpenLM Alerts

You can set up alerts for a variety of license status and license usage conditions.  

OpenLM External DB Support

Lets you use an alternative external database instead of the standard OpenLM database.

Read more at https://www.openlm.com/openlm-extensions/. If you are not certain how an extension can benefit your organization, please contact our sales team who will be happy to explain further. You get a free 30-day trial to test it out before you decide!

License File Parsing Trends

There are many people involved in the administration of engineering software licenses that want more information about the licenses they have in the organization and how they are being used. The floating or concurrent licensing model is that favored most by those involved in the management, procurement and administration of engineering software, because it gives them a means by which they can efficiently share their expensive software licenses between several  users, under the assumption that not everyone needs to use the software at the same time. The downside is that efficient sharing requires monitoring and management and if not done right, new problems can be introduced such as license unavailability and the cost saving advantage of the concurrent license model can be reduced.

Those who have the budget to invest in a purpose-built licence analysis and management tool invariably look to OpenLM’s fully-fledged enterprise software system by which user organizations of engineering software can monitor, report and manage the software licenses they have and get access to advanced software license administration functions.

There are others however who have more modest needs; they are neither trying to cut the organization’s engineering software budget nor take up battle to try and reach ideal license : user ratios. They just want a ‘quick and dirty’ method of reading the logs or license files of the engineering software they have purchased. So for the casual users like these, OpenLM took a subset of its enterprise license parsing and analysis product and launched the All License Parser, a free license and log file parser on the web. Some users of the All License Parser later graduate to OpenLM Core, with or without its extensions, but that is another story. This article is focused on the parser and what people are doing with it.

Whether it comes from compliance concerns or economic considerations, when the demand for an orderly picture of floating licenses arrives in the IT manager’s or license manager’s inbox, they start to look for the best way to get the report out to their manager. People that might have considered investigating the format of the license and log files with their own parsing efforts have been saved the effort because now they can just upload the file through the All License Parser and get instant results.

The All License Parser collects anonymous information from the files uploaded by the users. This allows the user to compare his own organization’s usage with benchmark data collected from other organization that use the same engineering software. It also gives us a chance to analyze the data and convert it to valuable information. This is the purpose of this article – to share with you the findings and trends we have identified, after having collected this data for about a year.

Most people upload one or more of the files (license, log, debug..) from the license manager that controls the checking out of licenses, because these contain most of the required information in one place. There are also files that are specific to one vendor daemon but these proved less attractive for the users. The trends we noted were:

The most common license manager by far, which the All License Parser users wanted to parse was Flexnet Publisher by Flexera, not exactly a surprise considering that this is the leading license management product on the market. Reprise RLM, Dassault Systemes, LS-DYNA, Sentinel, LM-X were noted too, in much smaller numbers.

  1. The most massive use by far was made by people in the US. The UK, Canada and Germany were next in line but all of them together didn’t reach much more than half that of the US.
  2. Files were uploaded from no less than 66 countries worldwide  covering the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa, stretching to Jordan, Bangladesh, Lithuania and New Zealand.
  3. The majority of users uploaded a few different versions of their files and over 7% of them repeated the process 10 times or more.
  4. The most popular engineering applications in use were Autodesk (led the field), Solidworks, Ansys, Mathworks, Schlumberger, PTC, ArcGIS and Siemens PLM. IBM Rational, Mentor Graphics, Abaqus, Pallisade, Scandpower Petroleum, Vendorcast and dozens more apps in smaller numbers were identified too.

Summary

Organizations are using engineering software in every corner of the globe, under a concurrent licensing agreement and their use of the All-License Parser shows that they have a thirst for information that is not otherwise easy to  come by. Users have parsed thousands of license, log and debug files in the last year using the free All License Parser. Judging by the number of users that open an account (free or paid) and repeatedly use the tool, the interest in parsing license files is growing.

The Actual Numbers from our Sample

15 Most Uploaded File Types

 

File Type Number of Uploads
FLEXlm log 2969
FLEXlm license 1143
FLEXlm lmutil 145
Reprise License Manager license 51
Dassault Systemes License log 47
OpenLM License 54
LS-DYNA log 30
Sentinel RMS log 53
Reprise License Manager log 29
LM-X license 14
LM-X log 24
LS-DYNA license 2
Sentinel SuperPro log 1
Sentinel RMS license 1
Dassault Systemes License 5

 

The 15 Most Uploaded Vendors

 

File (Vendor / Product) Number of Uploads
Adskflex (AutoDesk) 1229
SW_D (Solidworks) 351
Ansyslmd (ANSYS) 330
MLM (MathWorks) 254
Slbsls (Schlumberger) 172
Ptc_d (PTC) 138
ARCGIS (ArcGIS) 198
Ugslmd (Siemens PLM) 143
Ibmratl (IBM Rational) 62
Mgcld (Mentor Graphics) 70
ABAQUSLM (ABAQUS) 61
Palisade (Palisade) 74
Scplmd (Scandpower Petroleum ) 43
Vector (VectorCAST) 45
LMCOMSOL (Comsol) 56

 

All 66 Countries That Used the All License Parser

 

Country Number of Users
US United States                  400
GB United Kingdom                 95
CA Canada                         71
DE Germany                        67
IN India                          32
AU Australia                      30
IL Israel 26
FR France                         24
NL Netherlands                    23
JP Japan                          17
CH Switzerland                    17
ES Spain                          16
KR Korea Republic of              16
RU Russian Federation             15
SE Sweden                         15
IT Italy                          12
PL Poland                         11
TW Taiwan; Republic of China (ROC) 11
BE Belgium                        11
UA Ukraine 11
ID Indonesia                      10
AT Austria                        8
BR Brazil                         8
SG Singapore                      7
NO Norway                         7
CN China                          6
CO Colombia                       6
HK Hong Kong                      6
IR Iran (ISLAMIC Republic Of)     6
FI Finland                        5
HR Croatia (LOCAL Name: Hrvatska) 5
CZ Czech Republic                 5
TR Turkey                         4
PT Portugal                       4
IE Ireland                        4
BG Bulgaria                       4
LT Lithuania                      4
EU European Union                 4
ZA South Africa                   4
AR Argentina                      3
DK Denmark                        3
SI Slovenia                       3
TH Thailand                       3
TN Tunisia                        3
VN Viet Nam                       2
AE United Arab Emirates           2
CL Chile                          2
NG Nigeria                        2
MY Malaysia                       2
SA Saudi Arabia                   2
KZ Kazakhstan                     2
DZ Algeria                        2
BA Bosnia and Herzegowina         2
RO Romania                        2
MX Mexico                         1
JO Jordan                         1
VE Venezuela                      1
BO Bolivia                        1
EG Egypt                          1
LB Lebanon                        1
HU Hungary                        1
IS Iceland                        1
CR Costa Rica                     1
BD Bangladesh                     1
NZ New Zealand                    1
PH Philippines                    1

 

Top 10 Reasons Organizations Don’t Manage Their Software Engineering Licenses

Background

Engineering applications are invariably the most expensive software on your workers’ desktops. Compared to a few hundred dollars for a typical office application, engineering software starts at $5K at the low end and can reach as high as $500K a seat. A typical cost of engineering software licenses is $50K per engineer, excluding annual maintenance.

On that basis, if we take for example an organization with 100 engineers using industry-standard engineering software, we are looking at a purchase price of some $5M plus maintenance of $1M every year. Moreover, a company with 100 engineers is a pretty small one! When we are dealing with organizations that employ many thousands of engineers, it becomes big money!

Some engineering software vendors such as DSLS incorporate their own license management software to handle the application checkout process, while others use dedicated third party license managers; among the most common license managers are FLEXlm (Flexera Flexnet Publisher) and Sentinel RMS. Either way, these license managers are designed to serve the software vendor and not the user organization.

Cost to the Engineering Software User Organization

Having a resource that costs such a large sum of money, which is not managed tightly, can result in overspending and wastage of valuable budgets. Going back to our example company with its 100 engineers, $5M purchase costs and $1M annual maintenance fees, if it was discovered that it has licenses that are paid for but not being used, it could save wasted budgets immediately by cancelling the maintenance on unused licenses, freeing budgets without impeding projects in any way. If on the other hand the company is doing well and recruits more engineers, knowing of licenses that are available will allow it to support the growth by first using the licenses available and then purchasing only those they need.

Despite the clear benefits of managing engineering software license inventory well, a variety of reasons are given as to why this doesn’t happen. The list we have compiled below comprises the ten most common reasons we hear from license admins and IT managers.

The Top 10 Reasons Given

“No Budget”

Ironically this is one of the top reasons given by license admins for not doing more to be on top of the corporate licensing strategy. It’s not surprising there’s no budget left when you are paying for resources that are not in use. When you start managing your expensive software assets, you will save money and free up your choked budget!

“We’ve Written our Own Scripts”

This is common claim in many organizations. Sometimes it’s the software manager and in other cases a developer in the IT department that was called on to help with the task. At first sight this might seem to be a solution, but cannot compete with professional software built for the purpose and under continuous development, which gives you the most accurate and updated information available. The ‘home-grown’ solution falls following changes in the engineering software license allocation methods, changes in the licensing model and the fact that often no-one is available any more to maintain the scripts. The result is inaccurate and partial information and dependency on a developer to continuously update the scripts; the “savings” can cost the organization a fortune.

“This Might Reveal Erroneous Purchase Decisions”

Yes, this is possible, even likely, after installing a license monitoring system. Licenses get purchased without any justification while other departments had the same license and they were not being utilized. Sometimes workers have since left and their licenses are no longer used, while new licenses are purchased for new workers. However, the truth is that without software license monitoring tools that can give you the full picture it is almost impossible to be in command. As license admin, the quicker you can re-establish control over the licenses in your organization, the quicker you will have satisfactory answers to management questions and audits, be able to show you now have valuable usage information available that you could not have known before and you won’t have to look over your shoulder and cover up for past mistakes.

“The Software Vendor Provides This”

This is a common misconception. Software vendors build in capabilities to ensure that customers cannot use their software beyond what is in their licensing agreement. These capabilities are primarily focused on controlling whether a license may be ‘pulled’ or not. Vendors don’t have a strong interest in collecting usage statistics for the benefit of their customers. Their core business is in producing engineering software, not license administration, and it stands to reason that helping you to save money on their licensing model is not a top priority for any vendor.

“It’s Small Money Compared to our HR Costs”

This might be correct but it is not a justifiable reason to pass up on knowing how much your software licenses are being used. We have seen for example in energy companies that when oil prices are high, the cost of engineering software is not a primary consideration but with the drop in crude oil market prices, profits are hit and now these companies are managing their huge software assets with a greater sense of urgency. Interestingly in such organizations, when we analyse the license availability we see that even before they cancel unused licenses, they still suffer from license denials due to poor management of the licenses and a lack of control over the software resources. They were therefore losing out not just from spending more than they needed on their engineering software licenses but also from reduced efficiency of their engineering teams.

“If I bring in a License Management System, I’ll Put Myself out of a Job”

Job security is a real concern in the modern work environment but not justified in this case. Being involved in hundreds of such projects over the last few years, we have seen how the person managing the licensing is empowered by having the tools to make accurate decisions about license requirements, based on analytical data, thus contributing to his standing in the organization and gaining him respect. Taking the lead and staying on top of the wave is far better than trying to cover up for past mistakes.  

“No-one Has Complained Yet”

This is an oft-repeated claim, typical of organizations having a cultural preference for the “quiet life” over continuous improvement of operations. However, company cultures change, old managers get replaced by those with a more dynamic approach and the quiet life of the past is no guarantee that an unexpected demand for information about license inventory and license usage will not one day arrive from your boss. “Be prepared’ is an adage that can never harm you and gives you the upper hand if and when needed.

“We Are Considering Switching to a Subscription Model”.

Vendors of engineering software have been active over the past year in trying to convince their customers to move from a floating licensing model to a cloud-based, named or subscription-based licensing model. While the shift from floating to subscription is easy, we have seen in many organizations that it can cost you a lot more over time. The change might be something you will be forced to do in the future but we recommend staying with the floating license model as long as you can and during that time, you can monitor and manage the concurrent licenses, avoid wasting money and get the most out of them through informed management. Furthermore, it will give you the information you need to make the right decision if and when you change the licensing model.

“We don’t have the Manpower to Manage It”.

The fear of not having the human resources to properly manage software licenses is common and is part of a general limitation many organizations place on themselves by looking at the short-term expense without offsetting it against the benefits they will receive in the long term. Administration of your engineering software licenses may require a more intensive effort at the beginning to set up your administrative and reporting procedures but the work required becomes less over time. In our experience, the more time dedicated to this role, the more the organization profits, and proactive management of software for engineering applications always proves to be a positive move, ultimately saving money and removing constraints on engineering projects. Organizations that have difficulty acquiring the budgets for initial HR investment always have the option of outsourcing the work with limited hours at the beginning and gradually increasing the allocation as the benefits become more apparent and executive ‘buy-in’ can be obtained.

“It’s Hard to Stop Maintenance on Software After so Many Years”.

This is an understandable fear but it is based on an illusion. It’s not the same issue as cancelling insurance or freeing an investment. Software is a liability and not an asset, it continuously costs you money so if it’s not in use, drop it! You can add back licenses or their maintenance anytime, if and when you need them.

Summary

The above-listed reasons are those we most commonly come across in our day-to-day interaction with license admins, IT managers and even senior stakeholders like directors of engineering, when they explain their avoidance of proactive administration of expensive engineering software licenses. However, as you can see, all are based on just a partial view of the whole picture. Seeing the full picture, becoming proactive and breaking the chains holding you down will push you and your organization forward to more productive projects while having greater insight and reducing licensing costs.

Not true for your organization? If you’ve got another good reason for not administering your engineering software licenses with a ‘strong hand’? Let us know. We’d love to hear your ideas and comments!

Do you need a license usage information API?

openlm-logoapi

It turns out that many people don’t know about the OpenLM free API, and that includes a good many OpenLM customers too!

OpenLM provides a software interface to the data produced by the OpenLM system. It is actually an essential part of OpenLM Core; it’s what we use ourselves to get the data out to the OpenLM screens. That’s good news for users because it is always as up-to-date as the latest version of OpenLM.

The OpenLM API lets you extract inventory and usage information on license servers, applications and licensed features – concurrent data, actual usage, licensing terms, project and group usage and information on hosts, not to mention denials, all through a simple program call.

Read more about the OpenLM API and see how the German software vendor DeskCenter used it to integrate OpenLM into their system. Oh, and if I didn’t mention it already, it’s free!

Neil Leigh,

OpenLM Marketing Manager

 

OpenLM Goes Live with LMH

OpenLM has kicked off 2017 with the launch of a new and unique license manager hosting service called LMH or ‘License Manager Hosted’.

The new service offers many benefits to organizations who use software that requires a license manager like Flexera Software’s® FlexNet®. First of all they don’t need to install a thing on their network and secondly, all the maintenance of the license manager is done by us. That includes software upgrades, configuration and backups.

And that’s not all! OpenLM’s LMH comes complete with OpenLM Cloud, OpenLM’s license app monitoring and optimization tool, that gives the license administrator essential information about license usage for efficient management of software licenses.

For an overview of the benefits, go to the License Manager Hosted product page.

 

OpenLM Version 3.3 Released

OpenLM has released version 3.3 of its license monitoring and management tool. Major enhancements include the availability of the new extensions – a BI tool called Usage Analytics (a limited version was released with version 3.2) and Proactive App Manager, a brand new management feature for any installed software including software that is not managed by any kind of license manager, and Windows authentication as an alternative method of logging in to the OpenLM server.

Many of the new features come following requests from customers. Version 3.3 includes all bug fixes since the release of version 3.2 and these are documented in OpenLM Software Revisions

Following is a brief description of the main enhancements.

Core Product Report Improvements

The capability of scheduling and automatically emailing reports is not limited to the new BI extension. It has been added also to the basic reports in OpenLM EasyAdmin interface. Important enhancements have been added also to the license utilization chart including an aggregated usage presentation, quality of service (indicates license effectiveness) and detection of abnormal usage patterns, and improvements in the denials report.

More Licensing Managers Supported

The Licman and Olicense license managers are now supported and enhancements have been made to license managers that were already supported, such as support for DSLS token-based model, denials for the LM-X license manager, BetaLM triad-server redundancy, as well as improvements in Reprise RLM and Sentinel RMS.

Windows Authentication

In version 3.3 OpenLM includes a Windows Authentication scheme. This feature enables login via the standard Windows login process using the username and password registered on the organizational Directory Service.

FLEXlm License File Upload

FLEXlm license files, which have been fetched from the remote license server to the administrator’s workstation, can now be edited and replaced on the FLEXlm server.

Other UI Improvements

Improved capability in Checkout Policy window to match the license checkout policy (of the licenses reported as ‘used’) with the actual policy practiced by the license manager, active sessions window improved, license server down alert, configuration change status highlighted in configuration tool.

New Power Extensions

Apart from the enhancements to the core product, the release of OpenLM 3.3 is accompanied by the release of two powerful new extensions – Usage Analytics and Proactive App Manager. Extensions are optional extra modules that add extended capabilities to the OpenLM license manager. The two new additions are described below

Usage Analytics

An advanced analytical reporting tool that consolidates all software usage and license allocation data monitored by OpenLM. It comes with additional predefined usage and utilization reports to those included in the OpenLM core product, such as ‘Peak daily concurrent usage’ that shows usage and denials together on the same report and ‘Peak Daily Utilization %’.

Apart from the new predefined reports, there is a report generator that allows you to create an unlimited number of custom reports. Output can be exported to PDF, CSV, HTML, Excel and text. The database can be queried directly through Excel or any SQL query tool and external BI tools are fully supported – both through the built-in OLAP cube view and direct querying of the consolidated trends database. All reports can be scheduled for automatic running and distribution to stakeholders, tailored to the recipient.

Usage Analytics is an OpenLM extension (optional extra).

Proactive App Manager

A system for monitoring and controlling the use of any software in the organization regardless of the licensing scheme in effect. Proactive License Management allows you to implement your own allocation policy. It lets you automatically intercept the launch of applications to avoid excessive usage and enforce distributed usage according to user group, location and time.

One benefit of using Proactive App Manager is to prevent consumption of unnecessary buckets (a licensing model in which a set period of usage time is billed for even when only a fraction of it has been used).

Another benefit specifically for Autodesk admins is the prevention of launching different versions of products which don’t conform to the Autodesk cascading mechanism (e.g. Autocad 2015 and 3DS MAX 2016).

The new module gives you much needed control over license allocation in cases where usage is unrestricted and the vendor charges on the basis of actual usage made and in cases where there is the need to comply with license policies but there is no mechanism in place to enforce it. License admins will appreciate how this tool can help them in negotiations with software vendors via the usage data it provides.

These are just some examples of how you can benefit from the OpenLM Proactive App Manager, which can intercept almost any application launch process.   

Proactive App Manager is an OpenLM extension (optional extra).

Availability

OpenLM version 3.3 and the two new extension are available now! Whether you are a seasoned OpenLM user of just curious, you are invited to download and try. We invite existing users to listen in to our free ‘3.3 What’s New’ webinar to understand the benefits of upgrading to 3.3 in the fastest way possible. If you just want to learn what OpenLM is all about, we have a regular webinar slot every week just for you!

For more information:

Contact us: https://www.openlm.com/contact-us/

Signup for the webinar https://www.openlm.com/webinar-registration/

Download OpenLM 3.3: https://www.openlm.com/download/