Monitoring an IBM LUM License server using OpenLM Software

OpenLM Version 1.6 Supports the IBM LUM license server. IBM LUM licenses are used by different software vendors, the main vendor is probably Dassault Systems (Catia software).

Requirements

In order for OpenLM to support the LUM License server it has to be able to access the LUM License server remotely or locally. Different configuration options are supported by OpenLM that allows system managers to configure license servers located on LAN and WAN networks.

Configurations Options

OpenLM Supports flexible configurations that support LAN or WAN networks. This section lists the different configurations. Most of the information in this section is also relevant to other license servers such as SafeNet RMS, SafeNet HASP, FLEXlm, FLEXnet, RLM and others.

IBM LUM and OpenLM on the same machine

This is the most simple configuration but not a very realistic one. Most companies have more than one license server and because of that, they install OpenLM on a separate machine.

When OpenLM server is installed on the same machine as the IBM LUM License server, there is no additional configuration steps, just add the server name and port to the configuration.

IBM LUM and OpenLM on separate machines

In this scenario OpenLM Server is installed on one machine and the license server is installed on another. The problem we have to solve is how to allow OpenLM Server to access the LUM License Server. There are two possible solutions:

  • Use OpenLM Broker to send IBM LUM usage to OpenLM Server.
  • Configure OpenLM Server machine to be able to query usage on the IBM LUM License server.
Configure OpenLM Broker to push usage information to OpenLM Server

This is the most simple solution but it requires access to the license server machine for installation. OpenLM Broker software is reading the license usage locally and pushing the information to OpenLM Server.

The installation of OpenLM Broker requires only Java JRE. It can run on any operating system supported by Java and by that OpenLM supports Linux, Windows and UNIX license servers.

Configure OpenLM Server machine to be able to query usage on the IBM LUM License server.

IBM LUM Server allows other machines to query license usage and perform other actions from a remote machine. For a full install procedure please consult IBM LUM documentation, we will provide short overview of the requirements.

  1. Install Java JRE on the OpenLM Server machine.
  2. Make sure that you have IIS installed and configured on the OpenLM Server Machine.
  3. Install LUM software on the OpenLM Server machine, there is no need to configure your licenses.
  4. Add reference to OpenLM Server on the IBM LUM License server

Adding an IBM LUM license server in OpenLM

Like the configuration of FLEXlm and SafeNet RMS Services the configuration of an IBM LUM is simple and straight forward.
Using OpenLM Server Configuration->License Servers tab, Add the new license server and port. In the license server type the LUM type needs to be selected.

IBM LUM Support Level

Most of the functionality provided by OpenLM is also supported for IBM LUM licenses. We also support unique features of IBM LUM such as features versions.

OpenLM support for IMB LUM includes:

  • License inventory reporting.
  • License expiration alerts.
  • Current license usage.
  • Usage reports and charts.
  • License billing for groups or projects.
  • More…

Summary

IBM LUM (License Use Management) is the IBM product for technical software license management (similarly, the Flexera product is  FLEXnet). OpenLM Software fully supports the IBM LUM software and provides a flexible architecture that supports complex configurations.

The support for IBM LUM licenses if full, OpenLM supports unique features of IBM LUM such as versions for features. The advanced functionality of OpenLM such as License Usage Billing, Usage Reports, Usage Charts and more  is also supported for IBM LUM.

Collecting project information for usage using OpenLM Software

Preface

OpenLM Software allows organizations to collect usage data for billing and management purposes. OpenLM supports different policies, by groups or by project. Collecting information by groups is most common, the organization is using OpenLM in order to collect information according to any sub-division: subsidiaries, divisions, departments, etc.. The information is then used in order to implement the billing policy selected by the organization: charge by the hour, distribute maintenance costs between cost centers, or other.

Billing usage time by the active project is mainly used by project oriented companies. It helps such companies to calculate a more accurate cost of the project by collecting the usage time for each project.

Supported Software Systems

The process of collecting project information for software usage is supported for software systems that are using license managers such as FLEXlm (FLEXnet), SafeNet RMS, SafeNet HASP, IBM LUM, LMX and more.

These types of license managers are used by high-end software systems such us: ESRI ArcGIS, AutoDesk Autocad, Pro Engineer, PTC, Catia, Matlab and more.

Setting project support settings

OpenLM interfaces that allow the system administrator to perform the following actions:

  • Create new projects.
  • Set project state (Active, Not Active).
  • Assign users to projects (or remove).

Version 1.5 of OpenLM provides these interface by using OpenLM Users Management Module. From version 1.6 and on, we integrated these interfaces into OpenLM EasyAdmin.

The project collecting capability needs to be activated from OpenLM Server Configuration form. This can be done by navigating to the Projects tab. The following options are available:

Activating projects capability (“Log Project Information”).
Minimal Usage Duration – User can set a short period of usage that won’t be considered as actual usage.
Agent’s Behavior – Allows the system administrator to select one of two policies, by using OpenLM Agent functionality or by Environment Variables. The use of OpenLM Agent functionality is more user friendly and provides a more accurate results.

Environment Variables – The use of an environment variable is simple, set the name of the environment variable and OpenLM will automatically collect the information based on the environment variable settings. Using these option may also require the use of “Add unknown projects”, OpenLM server will automatically create unknown project names reported by users.

OpenLM Agent functionality – OpenLM actively collects project information for usage sessions. OpenLM Agent provides the following functionality:

  • Active Project prompt popps up automatically from OpenLM Agent when the user is activating the licensed software.
  • Active project prompt to pop-up every few minutes, in case the user switched to another project.
  • Active project prompt can be set to disappear automatically when the user ignores it.
  • The user can also activate the active project prompt from OpenLM Agent icon at any time.

Generating Reports

OpenLM EasyAdmin->Reports Tab provides reports based on active project. The user can generate usage reports at any time and limit the query by almost any argument.

Individual sessions can be reported by using OpenLM EasyAdmin->License activity tab.

Synchronization with external systems and sharing information

OpenLM allows organization to synchronize project assignment information automatically with external systems like the organization project management system.

OpenLM supports the update of the project list and and assignment of users to project through OpenLM API.

External systems can also access the project information and totals by using OpenLM API.

Summary

OpenLM System provides a complete infrastructure that allows organizations to implement a billing policy for licensed software usage. The system supports billing policy based on groups or users, projects or both together.

OpenLM Supports automatic synchronization of project information with external system like project management systems.

Autocad for MAC!!!

Autodesk announce the release of Autocad 2011 for MAC. It runs natively on the OS X platform with a MAC style interface.

Check the announcement at Autodesk site.

This version does not yet supports network licensing (floating/concurrent licensing) such as the Windows version that uses FLEXlm (FLEXnet) floating licensing.

Another important point to consider is that this initial version of Autocad for MAC does not yet includes all the functionality included in the Windows version. I assume that will be solved very soon.

Is it another crack in the Microsoft dominance in the organizational market?

Improved OpenLM Users Management performance

By setting OpenLM Users Management to ERROR or OFF the performance of OpenLM Users management can be highly improved.

  • Navigate to “conf” folder under “Users Management” home directory (typically: “C:\Program Files\OpenLM\Users Management\conf”)
  • Edit log4j.properties
  • On the first line Change “ALL” to “ERROR” (as exampled below):


Duplicate Entries in the FLEXlm debug log

We recently received reports about duplicate user sessions reported by OpenLM. For example, in the Maptek software that uses FLEXlm (FlexNet Publisher) software for licensing.

Checking the FLEXlm debug log file we have found that the duplicate entries are created by the MAPTEK vendor.

6:15:30 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:32 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:35 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:37 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:39 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:16:40 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
8:03:04 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
8:17:28 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s

The user only started one session of the software but at the last four entries we clearly see that the MAPTEK vendor daemon reported two overlapping sessions.

This information is included in OpenLM reports only when OpenLM Broker software is installed on the FLEXlm license server. OpenLM Broker software is designed to read the license manager debug log files and to push the information to OpenLM Server.

OpenLM Team is planning to include a solution to duplicate usage records in the near future.

ArcGIS 10 FLEXlm License Borrowing

The release of ESRI ArcGIS software version 10 also includes an upgrade of the FLEXlm license manager to release 11.6.1. This upgrade enables the support for the long awaited FLEXlm borrowing functionality that allows user to convert a floating (concurrent) license to a node locked license for a predefined period of time.The borrowing functionality is both an opportunity and a threat to the efficiency of license usage. Users can now take their tools to the field, gather the required information and edit it on-site. By that they can highly improve their efficiency.
On the other hand users may borrow licenses to network workstations, borrow licenses for no reason and other action that can highly reduce the usage efficiency of licenses. The tools provided by OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS accompanied by a reasonable policy set by the management can help you avoid the risks of the FLEXlm license borrowing functionality.

This article describes the required steps to enable borrowing and how to use the borrowing functionality.

Enabling Borrowing (Done by Administrator)

Borrow settings are configured on License Manager’s machine.
Start –> ArcGis –> License Manager –> License Server AdministratorAllow Borrowing – Enable/Disable the functionality
Max Borrow Time – Set the minimum time possible. Very long borrowing periods can highly compromise the license usage efficiency.
Audit Log – The location of the log.


ArcGIS ScreenYour settings are stored in Registry a registry branch on your license server:

HKLM\Software\ESRI\ArcGIS License Manager 10.0

The following keys can be found:
BORROW_ENABLED
MAX_BORROW_TIME

When you click “Apply”, license is re-read (Equal to the lmutil lmreread command. The benefit of this command is that system administrators can make changes without stopping the FLEXlm service).

Using Borrowing (Done by the borrowing user)

At the workstation, borrowing action is done by using the “ArcGis Administrator” tool. The workstation has to be connected to the network while borrowing.

Start the ArcGIS Administrator by using:
Start –> ArcGIS –> ArcGis Administrator

Select the Borrow/Return tab.

The user needs to check the feature he wants to borrow

After borrow is confirmed, the borrowed feature will not be available to other users and the system will show the return date:

At the ESRI Audit.log (which location was defined at first step) you can find borrow details:

Using the lmutil lmstat command FLEXlm shows this output:

Users of Viewer:  (Total of 1 license issued;  Total of 1 license in use)

“Viewer” v10.0, vendor: ARCGIS
floating license

ACTIVATED LICENSE(S) olm-arcgis10 ACTIVATION (v10.0) (192.168.1.248/27000 102), start Thu 8/12 15:15

In OpenLM Version 1.6 active products TAB:

With ESRI ARCGIS vendor daemon FLEXlm does not show the borrowing user, it writes the word “Activated License(s)”. Other software products that use FLEXlm report the user that actually borrowed the Feature.

Releasing the license back to the license pool

Releasing the license is easy. Make sure the machine is connected to the network, open ArcGIS Administrator and release the license. The license can be released even before the the target date.

If the borrowed FEATURE is not returned to the license pool by the user the borrowing will expire automatically on the due date and will be available to all network users.

Summary

ArcGIS Desktop version 10 features the long awaited feature of license borrowing. This functionality allows users to borrow licenses to their workstation and by that to convert a floating license to a node-locked license for a limited period of time. This functionality allows users to take their ArcGIS Desktop software to the field (ArcInfo, ArcEditor, ArcView). OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS fully supports the borrowing functionality.

What is FLEXlm? What is FlexNet?

General

FLEXlm software is a license management solution that allows software vendors to limit the number of software seats available to their users. FLEXlm supports different licensing policies such as Floating (aka Concurrent) and Node Locked licenses.
These type of software systems are also called DRM Solutions (Digital Rights Management). Other software with the same functionality are SafeNet HASP, SafeNet RMS and IBM LUM.
FLEXlm is used by a great variety of software vendors, such as ESRI, Autodesk, Mathworks, PTC, Ansys, Cadence and more.

History

FLEXlm was originally a joint development of GLOBEtrotter Software and Highland Software in 1988. GLOBEtrotter was then acquired by Macrovision in 2000, which renamed the product FlexNet.
In 2008 the company was sold to Acresso Software, and it’s name was changed to Flexera. The product was named Flexera FlexNet Publisher, but is still widely referred to as FlexLM. In 2011 the Canadian Teacher’s Private Capital fund acquired Flexera.

Flexnet License Manager operation

The general structure of the Flexnet license manager is shown below:

License server manager

lmadmin or lmgrd FlexLM daemons are supplied either by the licensed FLEXenabled application publisher or by Flexera Software. Its job is to communicate with the application, and receive the license request from it.It then passes the request to the vendor daemon.

Vendor daemon

Created by the publisher, and is unique to each FlexEnabled application installed on the network. It is the vendor daemon’s job to process the license request and to either grant it or deny it, depending on the number of available licenses, and predefined license usage constraints.

License file

Created by your software supplier, and holds detailed license information such as the quantity and time extent of the license

Trusted storage

Some publishers provide trusted storage as an encrypted alternative to using license files.

Debug log and Report log

FlexNet logs written by the license server manager (lmadmin or lmgrd), typically accounting the license check-outs and check-ins, and license denials.

Option Files

Files created by license administrators to restrict license usage to specific users or user groups.

FLEXlm License Usage Billing – Its Implementation in OpenLM Version 1.5.5

The implementation of the usage billing policy in many organizations has proved to be a very profitable step. This article discusses the concept of FLEXlm billing and the usage of OpenLM Software in order to implement such a policy.

Many organizations use software systems that are licensed by Floating (concurrent) licenses. This type of license facilitates the organization to install an unlimited number of seats of the software. The number of licenses used concurrently are limited to a predefined number (i.e. set during the purchase). Many of the software systems licensed this way, use Flexera FLEXnet Publisher (commonly known as FLEXlm software). This type of licensing method is commonly used by software vendors that produce high-end software systems.

In many cases, such projects are initiated as a part of a License Server Consolidation project. In order to explain the project, let us use an imaginary company “Green Energy Ltd.” from the USA that has 3 subsidiaries worldwide: UK, Australia, and Japan. Each subsidiary manages several license servers with different software systems. Let us assume the following software inventory:

Software
USA
UK
Australia
Japan
ESRI ArcGIS
55 34 46 21
Autodesk Autocad
56 26 15 21
PTC
24 24 12 31
Solidworks
35 11 36 41

The usage diagrams produced from OpenLM EasyAdmin show that utilization of some of the licenses is high, while other licenses are practically not in use, depending on the time and location.

This chart demonstrates usage of ESRI ArcGIS licenses in USA alone:

The first step the company took was to consolidate all the licenses so that a single license server will serve all users worldwide. This table shows the license availability worldwide after the consolidation:

Software
Total Licenses
ESRI ArcGIS
156
Autodesk Autocad
118
PTC
91
Solidworks
123

After the consolidation, the company checked the usage level of their licenses and found that the utilization is more balanced. But, some software systems are heavily used while others have a very low usage rate.

Thus, the licenses were better utilized when the company adopting the following two steps:

  • Utilizing the consolidated license server now allows users to use the same licenses over the 24-hour period.
  • The creation of a bigger pool of licenses provides a higher license availability.

Based on the usage reports, the company decided to purchase more licenses for some of the software systems, while cutting down the maintenance fee for other licenses that are under utilized.

The managers of some of the subsidiaries have complained that they pay for licenses they don’t use; the reason for which is that the maintenance costs are evenly distributed between the subsidiaries. In order to solve the problem, the company decided to implement a billing policy based on the actual usage of licenses by each subsidiary. The “Groups and Projects” extension to OpenLM System provides this solution. The company has created a Group for each subsidiary using the OpenLM Users Management software.

In order to avoid the need to manually relate users to the Groups, the system manager decided to utilize OpenLM’s ability to synchronize Active Directory users and groups with OpenLM Server database. Since the organizational belonging of each user is based on the structure of the organizational tree in AD, the manager chose the OU’s option and set the system to constantly synchronize the information with AD. This way, each new user will automatically be related to the correct subsidiary. OpenLM automatically updates the user’s belonging to a subsidiary, according to any change in the position.
Thus, the information now looks the same both in AD and in OpenLM Users Management interface.

After a month, the team was able to produce a usage report according to the different groups, thus easily producing a fair billing report for each group.

The UK subsidiary has decided to further enhance the accuracy of their project’s pricing. By implementing a project usage policy, they have measured their license usage of each project. They have created all their projects using OpenLM Users Management application, and have assigned each user to one or more projects. Users that were assigned to only one project did not have to report the active project. Users that belonged to more than one project, report the active project using the capabilities of OpenLM Agent software.

The information collected this way allowed Green Energy UK to price their projects better, taking the cost of expensive software usage into account.

This example provided an insight to the basics of Floating License Billing that can be implemented by OpenLM system. We can see that the capabilities of OpenLM actually enabled the server consolidation project, and also provided all the information needed for billing.

The highlights of OpenLM functionalities demonstrated in this article are:

  • OpenLM’s ability to monitor the usage level of the organizational resources.
  • OpenLM’s ability to synchronize OpenLM information with Active Directory in order to avoid manual work and to ensure data accuracy.
  • OpenLM’s ability to easily provide usage information for different groups of users.
  • OpenLM’s ability to track the usage of licenses for specific projects.

Conclusion

OpenLM Software provides all the needed tools for the implementation of a usage billing system in organization using license managers like FLEXlm (FLEXnet). IT Managers are now able to easily implement a usage billing system that can lower operational cost while improving license availability and reducing administration costs.

We have to emphasize that this is not a real world example. In reality, there are many other problems that were not taken into consideration here, for example, network limitations and many other factors.