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.

OpenLM: How to export license inventory?

After installing OpenLM Server add all your license servers using OpenLM Server configuration form, license tab.
Then, execute OpenLM EasyAdmin2->Licenses (Windows start->OpenLM->EasyAdmin2)

Use the export button to create a CSV file that contains the license list: