‘Save and Close’ for Kingdom, Harmony and Petra

OpenLM version 4.6 introduces a new extension that enables the ‘Save and Close’ functionality for three oil industry applications – Kingdom, Harmony and Petra. 

“Save and Close” is one of several features that OpenLM offers organizations to better manage and utilize their licenses. Basically, it works by retrieving idle licenses and returning them to their pool where they can be used by other users. As the name implies, the project is automatically saved before the application is closed and the license is released. 

The mechanism of action is simple – OpenLM tracks the application on the user’s machine through the lightweight OpenLM Agent component. Once OpenLM registers that an application has been idle for a predefined amount of time, administrators have the option to either manually or automatically close the application. 

Previously, the “Save and Close” functionality was only available for applications that had an open SDK, such as MATLAB and ArcGIS. 

Recently, one of our customers shared with us a wish. They wanted to see the same functionality implemented for the Kingdom, Harmony and Petra platforms. 

After an introductory meeting with the customer, we were able to better understand their needs and the specific applications they wanted us to handle.

Although we offer an alternative remote close functionality called “Suspend and Resume”, we understood that it was not optimal for the customer. They needed a sure-fire way to release the licenses back to the pool and they needed to fully automate the process, while also being able to save the current work of the user. 

As it was clear that we had to extend the “Save and Close” functionality to other platforms, we gathered our development team and had a brainstorming session. After a few ideas came up, we finally decided on the specific technology set to be used, while assembling a quick POC. 

We knew we could do it, but we also needed the customer’s assistance for us to test the solution. 

Luckily, the customer was more than cooperative! They prepared a special environment for us where we could connect remotely and run numerous on-site tests (of course, before this we agreed to sign a metric ton of security and clearance paperwork :-)). The customer taught us how to use their applications to pull licenses which we could test-drive during development.

We were able to develop a specific extension for each application, implementing our new technology. 

This required a very deep “drilling” and analysis of the structure of each application. After we mapped out all the required components, we knew exactly what it would take to develop a precise solution. 

We had several cycles of development. After each cycle, we deployed the extensions to the customer machines for testing. 

Today, our customer is more than satisfied: he can use the ‘Save and Close’ feature for his Kingdom, Harmony and Petra applications automatically, without lifting a finger. His wish has come true. 

Are you in need of this extension for your own organization? Or perhaps you have a special wish of your own you’d like to see fulfilled? 

Contact us and let us know. We would be more than happy to turn your license management dreams into reality.

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OpenLM v4.6 new features

On October 29th 2019, OpenLM version 4.6 was released and is now available for download.
The full-featured version of the new release can be downloaded from the OpenLM website for a 30-day trial. Existing OpenLM users with a valid maintenance agreement can upgrade for free.
Download here https://www.openlm.com/free-trial/.

The enhancements are listed briefly below:

  • A new component that allows the integration of engineering licensing usage data into Software Assets Management systems. This allows our customers to see engineering usage data in their own SAM systems and be able to analyze it as part of all other software assets.
  • Two new license managers are supported: the ESPRIT Floating License Server and Sparx Systems Keystore Service. Please note that for this initial release, we currently monitor license usage info without license denials.
  • OpenLM Broker now reads the Windows certificate store by default, thus eliminating the need for converting certificates into JKS format and also allowing organizations to make use of their own self-signed certificates.
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Managing Office 365: Engineers Get It!

The Internet is bursting with articles about how moving Office into the cloud can result in some unexpected and unwelcome results, primarily when it comes to costs. Companies are reporting that costs are as much as two to three times what was budgeted and signed for. Various recommendations are made, such as:-

  • Understand what your on-premise Office commitment is and try and consolidate where you can
  • Classify users according to roles and groups and identify which Office 365 offering is appropriate for their needs
  • Watch out for idle licenses
  • Check you are not running multiple versions and instances
  • Limit access to licenses out of hours unless really needed.
  • Purchase software to manage the licenses, because Microsoft does not help you in this regard.

These tips are big news to the normal purchasers of Microsoft Office, who are in IT Procurement or Finance. For CAD managers and license administrators of engineering and scientific software, they have already been down this road with much more expensive software, like Autodesk and Bentley products, both on-premise and in the cloud. They are familiar with all of the tactics and pitfalls may arise, such as:-

  • increasing the price and/or sunsetting the on-premise alternative to push customers to moving to subscription – Autodesk does this and Microsoft raised the price of Office 2019 by 6% late last year with the same intention.
  • Role-based solutions – if you are an Abaqus or Ansys customer you are familiar with product differentiation by role, such as product designers, and of course, all engineering software is bundled differently based in industry requirements.
  • Identifying idle licenses and harvesting them according to policy is one of the biggest cost-savers for many of our customers. When a single license costs thousands of dollars, you don’t let it just sit there consuming dollars, especially with time-based software like Autodesk TokenFlex.
  • Engineering license administrators are quick to pick up on multiple instances of licenses running, especially where more than one version is on campus simultaneously, a common problem with Autodesk.
  • Multinationals that have “follow the sun” requirements often tailor license availability based on location. License use often needs to be prioritised as well, to give preference to critical projects or key users.
  • Engineering companies know that the license manager provided by the vendor is not your friend; it is there to protect the vendor’s interests, not help you optimize your resources, that is why most companies have invested in software that does the job of balancing the concurrent license pool against peak user demand.

This list does not even include other unnecessary costs, like those incurred when using Bentley software, which allows users to access licenses even when there are no concurrent licenses available according to the license agreement, providing some unexpected costs at month-end.

Software Spend that is Easily Overlooked

Although Office 365 licenses are very cheap in comparison to, say, Autodesk Cloud licenses, everyone in the business uses them, and over-purchasing and underutilization costs can be formidable for large and even mid-sized businesses. In many companies, the discretion for purchasing Microsoft Office licenses falls to the CFO, who is not wise to the cost complexities of software licensing. Even the CIO may decide to migrate from earlier on-premise licensing of Office to Office 365 by a simple one-for-one license swap, because everyone in the company needs a license and the pricing seems acceptable. 

Extract from Microsoft pricing comparison: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?linkid=861604

 

They may even decide to procure P5 licenses for everyone in the company, while it is doubtful that more than 10% of users actually need premium licenses. This is how the costs spiral. The difference between a P5 and a P3 license is $180 per annum; between a P5 and a ProPlus license is $276; multiply that by the number of users who do not need the premium subscription and you can see why taking the Office 365 route can be an expensive journey. There is no guarantee that these packages will not change in both content and pricing over time, which makes the future even more unpredictable. One also has to consider whether all the applications included are needed, such as Skype for business, when Webex or Zoom is already freely used in the company. The days of putting all one’s software eggs in one basket are long gone; the benefits of only having to rely on one vendor are outweighed by the risks of being locked in to their products.

Another aspect to be considered is that, although the overall management of Microsoft Office licenses is the responsibility of the CFO or CIO, the CAD manager and engineering license administrator has stewardship over the Office licenses needed by their users. The costs of these licenses may be charged back to the engineering business units, and it makes sense to double-check what is being charged out by central admin.

Timing also can be a factor in increasing the cost burden for large organizations. The rollout of the new product in a large organization can take months; meanwhile all the licenses purchased, but not yet implemented, are sitting on the shelf, chewing up dollars every month. It could be advisable to migrate in two phases, so as to minimise this wastage.

Why we Now Support Office 365 License monitoring

So engineering and scientific companies are wise to all the sneaky things that vendors do to improve their revenue streams. This is why our customers requested us to add monitoring of some key cloud software to our list that is not normally part of our software portfolio.

We applied our minds to what we provided for cloud software in the engineering space, such as ArcGIS Online, and applied the same principles to Office 365. While we were working on this, we also added Adobe Cloud software to the list, because, again, everyone uses Document Cloud and/or Creative Cloud for design or content management.

License administrators who now want to manage Office 365 or Adobe Cloud software can do it through our Easyadmin dashboard, without having to use the Applications Manager to define the business rules for these products. We hope this has made life that little bit easier for our present and future customers. This functionality is available from release 4.5 onwards, which may require an upgrade, but there are other enhancements as well that make it worthwhile.

 

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Giving Graduates a Competitive Advantage with PLM

Universities globally are being tasked with attracting students into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines to provide the workforce needed for this century. In order to become competent professionals in their field, undergraduates and graduates need to acquire skills in the software applications they will use in their careers, such as CAD and GIS software or simulation suites that perform finite element analysis (FEA) or computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Vendors of these software products know that the students of today are their customers of the future and are happy to partner with universities or provide their software at academic rates. A working knowledge of AutoCAD and/or Solidworks are definite enhancements to any résumé. However, this only partially equips the graduate for life in the business world. He or she will learn how their skills acquired at university will integrate into the organization once they start working there, but they could have the edge on other applicants if they already had this knowledge. This is where training in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is so important – it provides a holistic understanding of product development from cradle to grave. 

Currently, only a few universities offer specialization in PLM, but there is a growing trend to incorporate it into relevant curricula. The trailblazer in PLM education is Purdue University, who opened the Product Lifecycle Management Center of Excellence in 2002, which was renamed the Digital Enterprise Center. The focus of the Center is on enabling organizations to make the transition to digital enterprises. Undergraduate, graduate and professional courses and certifications are offered in all aspects of Product Lifecycle Management.

Other universities are following suit, such as Clemson University in South Carolina and Oakland University in Michigan. Such initiatives are collaborative, supported by industry leaders who need an institution that can upskill their existing workforce in PLM, as well as provide future employees from their alumni. 

Leslie Miller, general manager for GE Power and Water, which is based in North Carolina, is quoted on Clemson’s website as to why PLM is an important inclusion for any university or technical institute:-

Product Lifecycle Management software and processes revolutionize how our industry designs, manufactures, services and operates our products. We are creating a digital thread that unites product configuration, analytical results and operational data. A university program that can research PLM processes and applications, and educate PLM-proficient new engineers, is critical for General Electric’s continued innovation.

Leslie Miller – GE Power and Water

(Source:- https://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/plm/)

 

STEAM versus STEM

One of the main hurdles in the inclusion of PLM in a University’s portfolio is that its precepts cut across different faculties, and it is STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics ), not just STEM. For a start, Lean Manufacturing is a readily available subject but is mainly taught at business schools. Product management involves marketing, which is already straddling an uneasy path between arts and sciences, with the growth of Martech. Graphics designers are part of the equation, using rendering tools like Keyshot to produce a vision of the finished product. To conceptualize a product, design and build it, bring it to market, service and maintain it and eventually to retire it, requires many different skillsets and roles. To understand how it all fits together and the processes that support the value chain are the answers that enrolling in a PLM degree or course needs to provide, as well as a familiarity with the tools and platforms used to interact with the data, processes and artifacts. PLM has also been subject to a major disruption, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

 

The Internet of Things and Digital Twins

IoT is reshaping business across a wide spectrum of industries. The ability to record real-time data in the field via sensors and other devices is creating huge volumes of data wherever they are placed. Among the myriads of benefits that can be realized by judicious extraction and analysis of data, whether by human or artificial intelligence, understanding how products actually work in the live environment can be collected and collated. This has changed the approach to design and simulation, with the increasing use of “digital twins”, prototypes that are fed the live data to test, understand and improve design. Crash test dummies and driving cars into brick walls is obsolete, when the same results can be achieved with a virtual simulation. The ability to build digital twins and collect and interpret IoT data is an essential adjunct to any PLM infrastructure.

Which Software Vendor?

 The institution offering PLM must decide which PLM vendor will be appropriate for the software they acquire. Fortunately, the number of vendors in this space is limited in this space, although the choice is growing. There are three main contenders and a few alternatives. The choice is simplified via two reports produced by Forrester at the end of 2017 and Quadrant at the end of 2018, which can both be downloaded from the PTC website.

 

Vendors- the Usual Suspects

The three vendors below are used extensively by traditional PLM industries, namely automotive, aerospace, and industrial and high tech equipment. Their foundation is in engineering software, which gives the advantage over contenders such as SAP and Oracle.

Dassault

Dassault’s software was developed to support its aerospatial engineering. The company’s 3DEXPERIENCE is the most widely used digital platform and sufficiently scalable that Singapore is using it to build the city’s digital twin. As the leader in this field according to both Forrester and Quadrant, selecting Dassault offers graduates good opportunities in finding work. Dassault do provide their own education, but it is product-related.

PTC 

PTC was the forerunner in PLM and has an extensive customer base. Recognizing that the future of PLM and IoT are intertwined, PTC acquired IoT platform Thingworx as an offering that integrates with their PLM Windchill solution. Adding to their highly rated technological solutions is their integration of augmented reality (AR) with Vuforia. Forrester identifies them as the market leader, while Quadrant places them as a technology leader, running second to Dassault on customer experience. Again, with PTC experience, a graduate will be able to pick and choose work opportunities across a wide band of industries.

Siemens

Siemens PLM and Teamcenter also have an established customer base and are used at Purdue and Clemson. Interestingly Forrester placed them 4th in their report, although Quadrant has them hot on the heels of PTC and Dassault. While Siemens were early entrants in the PLM field, they have been a bit slow in innovation, but their platforms are open and easy to integrate.

 

Other Vendors in the Wings

Aras – Aras is Forrester’s surprise third-ranked PLM vendor. They are open-source and new and while it may be premature to consider them because their market penetration is currently small, they should be watched. They have their own Aras University for PLM learning.

AutoDesk – It may be surprising to find Autodesk outside the leaders, when one considers how pervasive AutoCAD is in both industry and academe. Despite their strong presence as an engineering software vendor, it seems that they have some way to go before their PLM offering can match up to the rest of the market. They declined to participate in the Forrester research.

IFS – UK-based IFS Systems won an award for PLM software of the year awarded by Construction Computing Awards recently. Forrester did not consider them, probably because of their UK rather than the US presence. Like SAP, IFS is more of an ERP than an engineering solution.

Oracle – Oracle became a PLM provider by acquiring Agile, who had a ready-made PLM offering, to be integrated with Oracle’s ERP. Agile had customers in industries such as life sciences. Oracle is trying to move existing customers to their PLM Cloud offering.

SAP – This ERP heavyweight has PLM functionality, but based on their ERP offering, rather than an engineering base. The investment in SAP is very high for any manufacturer, which probably forces company

 

In Closing

Industry 4.0 is disruptive, but some of the disruptions is not obvious. The need to work collaboratively and the blending of science and the arts are all part of this new wave. Academic institutions have to provide alumni who can function in digital enterprises, and PLM education is necessary for meeting this demand. Obviously there are engineering faculties which have an education path that takes their students into a specific industry, such as oil and gas, but according to Quadrant, industries that were formerly not regarded as customers for PLM, such as consumer goods and retail, are turning to the PLM business model to bring efficiencies to their business. This market is predicted to grow and they will be looking for candidates who understand and can work in a PLM environment.

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

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

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

The Evolution of License Management Software

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

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

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

Your Vendor’s License Manager is not your Friend

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

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

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

It’s a Costly Exercise

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

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

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

You Bought More Licenses than You Need

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

Potential savings include:-

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

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

Your Productivity Levels could be Better

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

You Achieve ROI in No Time

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

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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. 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

Free Trial Download.

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