ESRI says that they might support FLEXlm license borrowing in version 9.4 of ESRI ArcGIS Desktop. This borrowing functionality is already supported by many software systems licensed by FLEXlm. For example Autodesk supports this functionality for years now. The ESRI user community is waiting for this functionality for long and we hope that it will be included with version 9.4 of ArcGIS.
The borrowing functionality allows users to borrow a license from the license server for a predefined period of time. During this period the license will only be available on a specific workstation. The FLEXlm license server will have less licenses to serve until the license is returned back to the FLEXlm license pool. Borrowing is actually converting a floating license to a node locked license for a specific period of time.
The main use for the FLEXlm borrowing functionality is to take a license out to the field. For example, the worker needs the ArcInfo license in the field in order to collect information and show it to the customer. The user can use the “FLEXlm lmborrow utility” application to borrow the concurrent license (floating) from the network to his laptop computer. By doing that the license is temporary converted from a concurrent license to a node locked license and the worker is able to use the license on the field. At the end of the borrowing period the license will not be available on the laptop computer, it will be available again as a concurrent license on the network. The user can also return the license to the server before the end of the borrowing system.
The FLEXlm license borrowing functionality is a very useful functionality that allows user the flexibility to use the FLEXlm licensed software on mobile devices that are not connected to the network. The problem with this technology is that in many cases it is misused by users and by that reduce the usage efficiency of the whole company. Some examples:
- A user borrows a FLEXlm license to his laptop computer but the actual usage during the borrowing period is minimal.
- A user borrows a license from the FLEXlm license server to his personal workstation and by that, a floating license is converted to a node locked license.
- A user borrows a license to a mobile device to a longer period then required. The user is now using two licenses, one for is network workstation and the other on the mobile device (The borrowed license).
The management of borrowed licenses can be done easily using OpenLM system functionality. The system displays borrowed licenses, borrowing date, return date and all other information needed in order to manage a FLEXlm server that allows license borrowing.
The system administrator can control license borrowing activity using the FLEXlm Option file. There are various options that allow the system administrator to limit the misuse of this functionality. The options are:
- Set aside a specified number of licenses that cannot be borrowed.
- Specify who can borrow licenses for a specific product.
- Specify who cannot borrow licenses for a specific product.
- Specify the maximum borrow period for a specific product.
OpenLM version 1.5.6 will allow system administrators to manage all these options and other FLEXlm Option file functionality using a convenient web based interface.
OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS features a smart license release functionality that assures a very efficient usage of ESRI ArcGIS Desktop licenses. This functionality is also supported with FLEXlm servers that allow license borrowing. OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS recognizes the reduction in the number of available license and provide the functionality for the updated number of licenses.
It is the responsibility of the system administrator to force a rational usage of the organization resources, in this case – the floating licenses. A misuse of this functionality can cause a bogus lack of licenses that can cause a purchase of unneeded licenses or a reduction of the company efficiency because of the lack of licenses. OpenLM 1.5.6 Option file edit interface allows the system administrator to easily enforce a policy that assures license availability for network users while allowing the flexibility of borrowing licenses to mobile devices when there is a need.
Please take into account that the ESRI ArcGIS version 9.4 was not released yet and the ESRI implementation of FLEXlm license borrowing may be slightly different from what we described here.