Workstations tab in EasyAdmin2 (Version 1.5.5)

OpenLM’s workstation tab was completely updated in version 1.5.5 of OpenLM. This short article explains the new functionality.

Four new columns are introduced in the workstations panel: “IP Address“, “User idle time“, “Online” and “Controlled” that replaces the “Managed” column in earlier versions. These columns are added to “Hostname” and “Agent version“. “Last Heart Bit” column has been removed.

A short description of each column:

Hostname shows the workstation’s name as reported by FLEXlm or other supported license manager.

IP Address is collected when the system is set to resolve stations names (This is an optional setting at OpenLM Configuration form->Advanced).

Last User is the name of the username that was last active on this workstation. This value is only available when OpenLM Agent is distributed to end users workstations.

Agent Version column shows the version of the OpenLM Agent installed on this workstation. This information is very useful when distributing or updating agents on users workstations.

The User Idle Time column displays the number of seconds passed since the user was active on the workstation. This column will only display information when an agent is installed on the end user workstation.

The Online column has two possible values, online (green) or offline (gray). A workstation will always be offline if an agent is not installed on it. When an agent is installed, the workstation will be online when at least one user is logged in. It takes about five minutes before OpenLM switches a workstation’s status from online to offline or vise verse.

The Controlled column is only relevant to supported systems, at this stage, OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS. This column indicates if OpenLM Extension is properly installed on the ESRI Desktop ArcGIS software. When OpenLM Extension communicates successfully with OpenLM server through OpenLM Agent then the workstation is controlled.

The information provided by the updated workstation tab in EasyAdmin2 interface allows system administrators and managers to control license activity. For example:

  • Recognize users that are idle and consume a floating license.
  • Recognize unauthorized access to the floating licenses.
  • Locate workstation that does not have OpenLM installed.
  • Locate uncontrolled installations of ESRI ArcGIS Desktop software.
  • Control the distribution of OpenLM Agent to end users workstations.
  • Etc…

FLEXlm (FLEXnet) License borrowing and ArcGIS Desktop 9.4

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.

Two additional software systems supported by OpenLM:

Geomatic – Geomagic software enables engineers and designers to transform scan data from physical objects into highly accurate digital models.

Autodesk AliasStudio – Autodesk® Alias® Design software is for consumer product designers who control the entire design process—from ideation to the final surfaces that are passed to engineering.

OpenLM EasyAdmin Remove button functionality

OpenLM EasyAdmin interface features a “remove” user functionality. What is the purpose of this action?

The remove button allows the system administrator to “tell” FLEXlm that the license is not really in use. There are few conditions and if they are all met FLEXlm will release the license back to the pool. This feature is useful when FLEXlm thinks that a license is in use (OUT) but it is actually not. There are many possible reasons for that: A licensed software crash, OS crash, network problems, etc.

If the licensed software is running, it will immediately try to grub another license. If all licenses are in use the software will close itself after few trials.

Where OpenLM stores its information

Usage information

All FLEXlm usage information is stored in a relational database provided with OpenLM software. The default database provided with OpenLM is Firebird database. The database file is called OPENLM_DB.FDB and it is located in the DB folder under the OpenLM installation folder.
OpenLM also supports external databases like Oracle or MS SQL Server. Configuration can easily be done by using OpenLM configuration form.

Configuration Information

OpenLM configuration is stored in an XML file named OpenLM_Server.exe.config. The file is storing DB settings, licensing settings and more.

Since the files stores access credentials to Active Directory and SMTP server the content of the file is encrypted.