The Engineering Software Alphabet Soup


Engineering software has grown in leaps and bounds since the first engineering products were developed. Where initially the focus was on computer-aided design, or CAD, now it has extended to provide digitized support to all areas of engineering. There are thousands of engineering software tools available today, many of which fall into categories that have a three-letter acronym to describe them. Managing compliance of all these products with vendor agreements has become an important discipline for the IT business unit, and the license management team in many engineering companies have come to rely on OpenLM in helping them manage the “alphabet soup”. We have compiled a list of some of these acronyms, and the products supported by OpenLM that fall under these categories.

BIM – Building Information Modelling

Building Information Modelling software has evolved from the original concept of 2D and 3D CAD. BIM provides the architect and engineer with 3D models of proposed and existing built structures. It can be used both for individual buildings and for whole ecosystems, like smart cities. The power of BIM is its ability to identify potential construction errors and weaknesses. Some of the BIM tools that OpenLM supports are Autodesk’s Revit and Navisworks, Tekla BIMSight, Dassault Systemes BIM, and BricsCAD BIM.

CAD – Computer-aided design

Computer-aided design heralded the revolution in engineering life, providing a software alternative to the drawing board and pens. Now available for 3D as well as 2D drawing, every engineering and architectural company has at least one CAD tool in their portfolio. While OpenLM is known for its ability to manage licenses for AutoDesk’s AutoCAD, it also supports BricsCAD, PTC Creo, Dassault’s Catia and Ansys, among many others.

CAE – Computer Aided Engineering

Computer-aided engineering performs analytics and simulations on engineering designs, such as computational flow dynamics (CFD), finite element analysis (FEA) and multibody dynamics (MDB) among other disciplines. Typically, such software is composed of a pre-processor, solver and a post-processor, and receives the output of design executed using a CAD or similar design application.

MSC Software were one of the earliest companies offering software for various types of CAE, such as Adams Car. Other CAE software includes Mathworks Simulink, Matlab, and Wolfram’s Mathematica, all of which are in OpenLM’s vendor list.

CAM – Computer-Aided Manufacturing

Computer-aided manufacturing usually describes an automated manufacturing process and is not engineering software per se, but does receive output from CAD and CAE application as part of the value chain and often requires the supervision or intervention of experienced engineers. Many vendors of engineering software offer CAM solutions, including Dassault (Catia), Siemens (NX CAM), PTC (Creo), AutoDesk (Powermill, FeatureCAM and Fusion 360) and HCL Technologies (Camworks). All of these vendor products are supported by OpenLM..

CFD – Computational Flow Dynamics

Computational Flow Dynamics or CFD is used to analyse the flows of gases and liquids via simulation and is one of the CAE analytic tools. Typically, like most CAE tools, CFD analysis is very complex and is run using multiple CPUs and/or GPUs.

Many major vendors offer CFD software, notably Ansys, which has products such as Fluent, CFD and CFX. Other well-known products include Autodesk’s Inventor and CFD, MSC’s Dytran and Solidworks.

ECAD – Electronic Computer Aided Design

Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) is a special branch of software that is dedicated to the design and production of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). The “CAD” in the name is a bit misleading, CAD is focused on design, while the best ECAD products cover the whole board manufacture process from design through to assembly and even parts explosion and bill of materials (BOM) generation.

One of the leaders in this field is Cadence Software with its Allegro software, which is focused on the design aspect, and some other products that are devoted to MCAD, the manufacture aspect, and IDX that allows electronic and mechanical engineers to collaborate on the board design and manufacture. OpenLM also supports Mentor Graphics’Xpedition PCB engineering suite.

EDA – Engineering Design Automation

Another acronym that is synonymous with EDT.

EDT – Engineering Design Tools

EDT is a global term for specialized engineering software, and includes any software that the engineer could find in his digital “toolbox”.

FEA and FEM – Finite Element Analysis and Method

Finite element analysis (FEA) is one of the CAE family of software. FEA software performs simulations and is usually run in batch mode. There is a wide variety of FEA software available, such as Simulia’s Abaqus, Nastran, originally from NASA and now available from MSC and Siemens, Livermore’s LS-DYNA and Ansys. There are many FEA packages that originated in universities and through research. These generally do not come with a license manager, but OpenLM has a feature that allows software like this to be monitored.

GIS – Geographical Information System

Geographic information systems (GIS) have been around for a long time and ArcGIS was the software that OpenLM is founded on. The founders were working at a company that used the ESRI product extensively, and the need for an independent license manager was identified. They started up a company that initially offered a solution for ArcGIS license management, then AutoCAD, followed by software from many other vendors. Today over 900 customers rely on OpenLM to manage their licenses, in industries ranging from Aerospace to scientific research.  

GPU – Graphics Processing Unit

What was originally a circuit board designed to support computer games has become a vital cog in modern computing. The parallel processing capabilities of graphics cards cuts down processing time and costs on intensive software processing required by CAE applications. Nvidia is the leading producer in the GPU field and they have collaborated with some of the leading software vendors, such as Dassault to optimise processing using the Nvidia boards. Recently OpenLM was requested to include Nvidia license management as part of the supported vendor products and this has been done. This simplifies work in advanced simulations and calculations, where cost of processing is an important consideration.

MDB – Multibody Dynamics

Multibody dynamics (MDB) is a CAE software tool. The discipline examines the behaviour of mechanical moving parts and the influences of external forces on these parts. Because the effects of these forces are unpredictable and cause friction and instability, this software can predict weaknesses and other potential flaws as well as mean time to failure. Some major software vendors in this field are Comsol, who have a Multibody Dynamics Module, and MSC Software with its Adams, Adams Car and SimXpert products.

PLM – Product Lifecycle Management

Early engineering software was siloed into different areas of expertise, and did not integrate readily with other applications used in the overall production of a part or product. This has been changed with the introduction of product lifecycle management (PLM) which covers the whole value chain of product development from inception to market. It also goes beyond this in that it supports maintenance during the product’s life up to the time when it needs to be disposed of as it has reached the end of its life. Some of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software also lays claim to PLM management, but the main players in the PLM space are, Siemens, Dassault and Autodesk.

The Wide World of Engineering Software

These are not the only acronyms in the alphabet soup, and there are also many products that do not have a handy acronym to classify them that are used in various industries and engineering disciplines. Building roads and bridges, communicating via radio and satellite, designing transmission networks and the many facets of the oil and gas industry, all have their own specialized software tools. OpenLM covers many of these products too. If you are looking for effective license management over your valuable software, why not try our product and see if it works for you. You can download an evaluation copy and try it for 30 days at


The New ArcGIS Pro 1.2 Will Offer Floating Licenses

Esri is releasing a new Pro version of ArcGIS, the leading geographic information system. This version, 1.2, now supports floating licenses. See what’s new in this version here.

ArcGIS Pro, which used to offer only Named User licensing through the web, now supports Single Use and, more interestingly, Concurrent licensing. According to Esri, “with Concurrent licensing, a given number of licenses are hosted on a License Manager… ArcGIS Pro is then configured to allow organization members to check out an available license from the pool of licences hosted on the License Manager.”

We believe this is a welcome change. This new model simplifies the licensing, returns the control to the customers, and enables them to manage the licenses according to their organizational culture and needs. Customers will now be able to use software license management systems to actively manage their ArcGIS Pro licenses in a more efficient way.

You’re welcome to download our white paper that includes license usage benchmarks for ArcGIS and other engineering applications. We also recently reviewed the actual license usage of ArcGIS here.

Esri’s Applications’ Real Usage Data Revealed

Oren Gabay, CEO at OpenLM


Here we’re keeping an eye on the actual license usage of various engineering software vendors. After reviewing the leading applications of Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes, today we’ll examine Esri, the developer of ArcGIS, a popular geographic information systems (GIS) mapping software suite.

We have been collecting anonymous utilization data from hundreds of organizations through the OpenLM License Parser, our interface for parsing license server logs and license files. This free online tool highlights license usage patterns and statistics, and produces insight on license inventory, utilization and availability.

We examined the license usage data of Esri’s popular ArcGIS applications based on different usage data of different organizations. We selected 4 main usage categories:

    1. Average Session Duration: Short average session durations usually imply a healthy organizational culture, whereas long average session lengths imply that users are unnecessarily keeping licenses for themselves.
    2. Daily Sessions per User: High number of sessions indicates that users employ licenses as needed, and return them to the license pool when they are done.
    3. Rate of License Denials: Having not being denied a license at all may imply that the license pool is underutilized. Having too many denials implies that licenses are too few or should be better managed.
      Note that denial reporting may not be fully accurate, since FLEXlm reports more denials than you actually have. The OpenLM server software filters false denials and reports only TRUE denials, but the specific parser implementation is limited in this aspect.
    4. Total Utilization Percentage: The ratio between the total usage in a given time period, and the total potential usage of all acquired licenses during that period. Comparing an organization’s “Total Utilization” score to the average benchmark spells out the bottom line for license efficiency.

The results of Esri’s leading applications and extensions are summarized below (usage data for ALL Esri products can be found here):


Average Session Duration (Hours)

Daily Sessions per User

Denials per Hour

Total Utilization Percentage
















Spatial Analyst





Network Analyst










We strongly advise license administrators and IT personnel to compare the usage data in their specific organization to the benchmark data presented above. This way, they will ascertain whether their use of Esri’s software licenses is in the ballpark.

Next time, we’ll present the license usage data of MathWorks’ leading applications.

Meanwhile, you can download our white paper that includes license usage benchmarks for other engineering applications.

Oren Gabay is the CEO of OpenLM, a provider of software license management solutions for engineering applications

OpenLM Agent Maintenance Release Version

OpenLM Agent version

OpenLM Agent version is a maintenance release to version 2.0. It contains some bug fixes to problems found in previous versions. We  recommend that users that the resolved issue may be relevant, to consider to upgrade their system to this version.

What’s new in OpenLM Agent (February 10th, 2015)


  • OTRS 2015012610000108 — OpenLM Agent Extensions are not installing with ArcGIS 10.3


Upgrading the OpenLM Agent

The OpenLM Agent can be silently deployed over the organization’s workstations. Please refer to these documents for more information:

Application Note 3023: OpenLM Agent Silent installation

Application Note 2023a: Customizing OpenLM Agent deployment via GPO


ESRI introduces ArcGIS for AutoCAD

ESRI has launched a new plug-in application for AutoCAD(v2013 or 2014) that allows for you to access and create GIS data via services from ArcGIS for Server and ArcGIS Online. From within the domain, access to GIS maps, map services, image services, and feature services are now made MUCH easier.


An additional selling point of the software, it allows you to edit data that’s been stored locally within the AutoCAD drawing itself or exported from ArcGIS for Desktop.

Both ESRI Desktop software and all Autodesk software are using the FLEXnet publisher for licensing. This allows sites that use both software to fully control and manage the access to licenses by using OpenLM Software.

Download ArcGIS for AutoCAD HERE

Download OpenLM HERE

ESRI ArcGIS 10.1 SP1 version published


ESRI has recently published the ArcGIS 10.1 SP 1 patch version.
This release contains a list of bug fixes and enhanced performance.

Relevant to OpenLM users:

One fix is related to the desktop’s license borrowing capability:
NIM060359: High Latency/Low Bandwidth connections including VPNs may prevent license borrowing.

OpenLM compatibility

OpenLM has already installed and tested the patch with OpenLM Server and Agent version 1.7. No compatibility issues were found.

Further information

If you have any questions regarding the upgrade of ESRI ArcGIS to the 10. SP1 version, please contact OpenLM:

OpenLM exhibits on the Esri International User Conference July 23–27, 2012 San Diego Convention Center

Dear valued customers and future customers,

We are excited to exhibit the OpenLM License monitoring and control tool in the upcoming ESRI International User Conference this July, in San Diego.

We’ll be presenting OpenLM’s capabilities in license usage optimization capabilities, and showing off OpenLM’s unique advantages for ESRI license utilization.

We’ll also be handing out prizes, So do look for us in booth 517.

Automatically Release “Orphan” ArcGIS and Autodesk licenses

Users of network licensed ESRI ArcGIS and Autodesk (AutoCAD) applications report cases in which licensed application were closed, but the licenses remained “hanging”, and were not returned to the license pool.

This condition may be caused by broken communication between the FlexLM license server and the workstation on which the application is running, or any other “glitch” for that matter. The answer given by the vendors to this condition is that the system administrator should manually release the checked-out license via the license administrator tool or Flexera’s LMTOOLS UI.

But this is wrong.

This problem does not manifest in any apparent error message or visible notification, so this condition may persist indefinitely. Because of that:

  • There is no way for manually and routinely tracking down and fixing this condition. This condition is only captured when there is an obvious “leak” in the amount of available licenses.
  • On top of not being able to utilize the full extent of the acquired software licenses, this condition may also cause exaggerated billing for users.

An automatic solution for the identifying and fixing this condition is therefore required, and is supplied by OpenLM. On the OpenLM EasyAdmin web application, there is a check box which is configured to do just that. It configures the OpenLM system to track down ArcGIS and Autodesk applications’ licenses which are checked out but not used, and retrieve them.

This option is set active by default. The configuration check box is found as follows:

  • Click the OpenLM ‘Start’ button, and select ‘Administration’. The ‘Administration’ window opens.
  • Select the “Active Agent” icon. The “Active Agent” window opens.
  • Select the “Extension dedicated” tab, and check the “Solve license manager errors” box.

That’s it. You wouldn’t have to worry about hanging “Orphaned” licenses for ArcGIS and Autodesk applications any more.


ESRI ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 4

ESRI has announced the release of ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 4. The new service pack is now available for download from ESRI’s patches and Service Packs download site. Download and installation of the new service pack is straightforward, and the software update runs seamlessly.

As far as OpenLM is concerned, Service Pack 4 does not incorporate fixes to the ArcGIS License Manager. Hence, transition to the new Service Pack should be transparent to OpenLM as a monitoring tool of floating licenses.

Please note that previous Service packs have included fixes to the ArcGIS License Manager. Here is a full list of the issues that were addressed and solved in ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 4, as well as in previous Service Packs.

OpenLM Software University Program

OpenLM is a worldwide operating software specialist for management and monitoring of network licenses (floating, concurrent user, token based) utilization. OpenLM’s Software provides a comprehensive management solution for license management software such as FLEXlm, FLEXnet, Sentinel RMS, Sentinel HASP, RLM, IBM LUM DSLS and LM-X.

Universities naturally hold an extensive profile of licensed software applications, a vast population of users set in various groups, and different levels of license usage permissions. Handling a database of this magnitude and complexity is a real challenge.

This is where OpenLM’s benefits show. OpenLM eases the management of diverse license databases, and introduces the option for cost allocation per usage for software licenses, thus reducing usage costs considerably, and minimizing the need for further license acquisition.

In order to improve OpenLM’s cooperation with universities, OpenLM has introduced its new university program. This program provides a professional solution for universities to manage and monitor the utilization of software products like CAD, CAE, Software Engineering and GIS. The program’s pricing scheme takes the universities’ financial considerations into account.

We are convinced that the apparent assets that the OpenLM software brings to license management would be highly appreciated by Universities, and that these benefits would be embraced by faculties such as Engineering (Electrical, Mechanical, Aerodynamics, etc), Physics, Informatics, Architecture and Geo-sciences. OpenLM has been known to improve the utilization of prominent licensed application such as  Autodesk Autocad, ESRI ArcGIS, MATLAB, PTC and CATIA by as much as 30%.

Universities and departments that are interested in this program should contact OpenLM through