Oren Gabay, OpenLM CEO Podcast
With time, engineering systems are evolving and they have complex licensing needs. The licensing norms for these systems are often different from other traditional software. This brings us to the question at large – What are the most important elements of a successful licensing system? Let me take you through eight of the most important features of a good licensing system today.
In this context, we should understand what the utility of the licensing system is in the first place. The product of a licensing system is licensing – allowing engineers to have proper access to software they need while keeping the organization compliant. The other, and arguably more important, benchmark for a licensing system is its ability to help the management optimize cost.
Therefore, a successful licensing system provides a scope for sufficient availability of licenses while minimizing the cost overhead.
A good licensing system should:
1. Consolidate your license servers.
2. Closely monitor your license servers and user activity.
3. Reduce idle time to the minimum.
4. Control all procurement channels of new licenses.
5. Closely control access of users and groups to licenses.
6. Charge cost centers for license usage.
7. Expose license usage information to all stakeholders, including users.
8. Take decisions regarding license maintenance solely on data.
Let me take you through these points in a bit more detail:
Consolidate your license servers – While working with several clients we realized that in many cases organizations do not know what license servers they are in possession of. Many of these license servers were purchased in different periods. At times, branch or nodal offices purchase licenses separately so the central team remains out of the loop. In many cases license servers were used for a specific project and after the conclusion of the project, they remained unaccounted for.
In another instance, organizations were seen purchasing licenses while license servers with the same exact specifications were laying idle with another division or branch of the same company.
Closely monitor your license servers and users’ activity – Collecting continuous license usage information from all license servers is critical to the management of a healthy licensing system. The information allows your organization to make the right decisions, both in the short and the long term. In the short term, the current usage data allows the management to manage the system and allocate licenses to groups, release idle licenses and solve license managers’ problems. In the long term, this data allows the management to make decisions on the structure of the licensing system, procurement of licenses and license allocation to projects.
Reduce idle time to the minimum – Utilization of the license pool is reduced when users have licenses idle on their workstations. Ideally, a provision of license harvesting helps in situations like this – when idle licenses can be allotted to other users in real time. A good licensing system does just that and every license can be utilized to the fullest.
Control all procurement channels of new licenses – An effective licensing system allows for centralized approval for all procurement requests. This effectively increases utility, as it is indeed difficult to make the most out of software if uncontrolled purchases care being made.
Control access of users and groups to licenses – License servers typically allow the license managers to allocate a license to specific users and groups of users. Options FIle in FLEXlm (FLEXnet publisher) is a classic example. In most of the cases the implementation of this useful capability is based on text files and is designed for small user groups. In order to implement it for large systems, a dedicated platform is necessary.
Charge cost centers for license usage – With data at their possession, the top management can charge cost centers for license usage. This is an extremely important method to increase productivity. It is often observed that when department managers are paying from their budget for license usage, a significant improvement in the utilization of licenses is observed.
Expose license usage information to all stakeholders, including users – When license utilization data is made available to all stakeholders, including the end-users, this provides clarity and increases efficiency. This can be done by providing the data on a dedicated webpage, a user utility or in periodic reports. Several organizations implement a dashboard to make this data available to all relevant users.
Make decisions regarding license maintenance solely on data – An engineer or the department head may not be able to take financial calls – like discarding or not renewing licenses that are no longer in use.
Such decisions need to be made by people that are looking at pure economic factors and not the functionality of the software. When the management is armed with data from an ideal licensing system they can easily instruct some other department, especially finance, to take over.
I hope I have been able to illustrate the nuances of a good licensing system to you in brief. You can always check our blog and my video channel for updates about engineering licensing.
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