Managing Autodesk Licenses Effectively

Optimizing license usage is often overlooked at engineering companies, even when trying to contain costs in the IT budget. When times are tough, this is a quick and easy way to reduce costs. Even when the orders are rolling in, there is no need to spend money on licenses that are surplus to your requirements. Many of OpenLM’s customers have used our license management software to trim down their license portfolio of excess licenses, especially licenses from the Autodesk family.

The recent changes made by Autodesk to their licensing policy going forward have made it even more critical for customers to keep a tight control over their Autodesk license usage.

While Autodesk provide the Flexera license manager to customers, which does provide some information of how licenses are being used within the company, it has been designed from the vendor’s viewpoint of ensuring compliance. To get the transparency and control that every license administrator needs, a customer-centric software product is needed. OpenLM was originally designed by license managers who worked at a site that made extensive use of ArcGIS , and had the same challenges. Their success in building software that helped companies manage ESRI licenses next expanded to helping Autodesk customers with their AutoCAD, Revit and other software.

The  License Administrator’s Wishlist

The license manager needs deep insights into how any vendor’s licenses are utilized. This is needed on a daily basis for optimizing usage, periodically for management reporting and annually or on demand to plan and forecast license requirements for the next year or for an anticipated project. This is rarely available to the extent needed using a vendor’s license management tool, and it is recommended that license management software that is vendor-agnostic is investigated. The features that a good license management package should provide include:-

  • Visibility into license usage on at least a minute-by-minute basis
  • Minimising license denials to users
  • Easy identification of idle licenses
  • The ability to “harvest” idle licenses, either automatically or manually
  • Messaging options to inform users of license availability where they were denied
  • The ability to see a consolidated view of licenses where there are multiple pools and named users
  • Comprehensive reporting that can be used for management reporting to management
  • Financial reporting on usage across the organization  that supports chargebacks to cost centers and projects, based on their usage
  • Forecasting to indicate a need to purchase or dispense with licenses, both on a regular basis and for annual license renewals or new projects
  • A graphical interface that allows the license administrator to manage licenses for a product without having to log in to the vendor’s product to make changes.

To really understand and test for these features, the software should be evaluated on a trial basis. OpenLM is confident that they provide all these features for Autodesk  software products as well as thousands of other engineering software tools.

The Daily License Challenge

Most engineering software can be bought under a concurrent or network user model, which enables the company to buy the minimum of licenses needed to satisfy user demand. The license administrator has to perform a balancing act between keeping his users happy and productive by always having licenses available, while managing the license pool effectively and avoiding further purchases.

To do this, he needs to manage idle licenses. Users have a tendency to book out licenses at the start of day and not return them until the end of day, even when they are away attending meetings or on-site. Some users also will hang on to their licenses overnight, so that they do not need to book them out again when they come into work the next morning.

The license administrator needs to be able to take control over idle licenses and “harvest” them, releasing them back into the pool. The amount of time that a license is allowed to remain idle and whether the session is saved or not will depend on the individual requirements of the company and should have a defined policy and business rules.

He also needs an early warning system that licenses are being denied (although angry users phoning in will happen in any case). OpenLM, with their knowledge of what it is like to be in the driver’s seat, have built these features for Autodesk customers:-

  • License denial reporting
  • Real-time reporting on usage
  • Reporting on inactive, hanging or otherwise unavailable licenses
  • The ability to harvest idle and unused licenses and release them back into the pool
  • The option to suspend, save or terminate an idle session
  • The ability to automatically notify users who were denied that a license is now available for them
  • Distinguishing between “true” denials and denials where the software was available and booked out shortly after the denial
  • Extensions and other aids that allow the license administrator to build business rules, add alerts or otherwise customise OpenLM to fit the customer’s environment

The provision of all these features makes idle license management a breeze. For customers like Array Architects, they were able to confirm their suspicions that users were not releasing their software at and of day, and could now release all those licences, so that the entire pool was available at the start of the next business day.

Feedback and Reporting

OpenLM has fine-tuned the management of Autodesk software products to second-by-second visibility. Reports showing usage statistics, daily peaks and troughs of user demand and usage by group are all standard. There is also an extension that enables the license administrator to create custom reports.  Anything that needs to be known about AutoCAD licenses or any other Autodesk product can be reported on.

  • Consolidated views of multiple license servers, user groups is enabled
  • Heat maps and graphs on license usage come standard with the application
  • Forecasting for renewals is available
  • Financial reporting for chargebacks based on usage is a standard feature
  • Accurate reporting on usage, that can be compared against Autodesk’s calculations.

These reports can demonstrate to the executive how well license optimization is progressing, as well as quantifying cost savings and ROI. Many of our customers have achieved an ROI in under three months of use.  

Going Forward

The determination of Autodesk to discontinue all network licenses and offer only subscription licenses in the future is a headache for most customers who have a considerable investment in Autodesk products and use concurrent licensing to get the best value for their money.  Every organization will have to do an evaluation of what a conversion to subscription licenses will cost them and whether they should go ahead with the change while the discounted price is still available. OpenLM provides the intelligence to make a decision based on an accurate assessment of the situation.