The Engineering Software Alphabet Soup

 

Engineering software has grown in leaps and bounds since the first engineering products were developed. Where initially the focus was on computer-aided design, or CAD, now it has extended to provide digitized support to all areas of engineering. There are thousands of engineering software tools available today, many of which fall into categories that have a three-letter acronym to describe them. Managing compliance of all these products with vendor agreements has become an important discipline for the IT business unit, and the license management team in many engineering companies have come to rely on OpenLM in helping them manage the “alphabet soup”. We have compiled a list of some of these acronyms, and the products supported by OpenLM that fall under these categories.

BIM – Building Information Modelling

Building Information Modelling software has evolved from the original concept of 2D and 3D CAD. BIM provides the architect and engineer with 3D models of proposed and existing built structures. It can be used both for individual buildings and for whole ecosystems, like smart cities. The power of BIM is its ability to identify potential construction errors and weaknesses. Some of the BIM tools that OpenLM supports are Autodesk’s Revit and Navisworks, Tekla BIMSight, Dassault Systemes BIM, and BricsCAD BIM.

CAD – Computer-aided design

Computer-aided design heralded the revolution in engineering life, providing a software alternative to the drawing board and pens. Now available for 3D as well as 2D drawing, every engineering and architectural company has at least one CAD tool in their portfolio. While OpenLM is known for its ability to manage licenses for AutoDesk’s AutoCAD, it also supports BricsCAD, PTC Creo, Dassault’s Catia and Ansys, among many others.

CAE – Computer Aided Engineering

Computer-aided engineering performs analytics and simulations on engineering designs, such as computational flow dynamics (CFD), finite element analysis (FEA) and multibody dynamics (MDB) among other disciplines. Typically, such software is composed of a pre-processor, solver and a post-processor, and receives the output of design executed using a CAD or similar design application.

MSC Software were one of the earliest companies offering software for various types of CAE, such as Adams Car. Other CAE software includes Mathworks Simulink, Matlab, and Wolfram’s Mathematica, all of which are in OpenLM’s vendor list.

CAM – Computer-Aided Manufacturing

Computer-aided manufacturing usually describes an automated manufacturing process and is not engineering software per se, but does receive output from CAD and CAE application as part of the value chain and often requires the supervision or intervention of experienced engineers. Many vendors of engineering software offer CAM solutions, including Dassault (Catia), Siemens (NX CAM), PTC (Creo), AutoDesk (Powermill, FeatureCAM and Fusion 360) and HCL Technologies (Camworks). All of these vendor products are supported by OpenLM..

CFD – Computational Flow Dynamics

Computational Flow Dynamics or CFD is used to analyse the flows of gases and liquids via simulation and is one of the CAE analytic tools. Typically, like most CAE tools, CFD analysis is very complex and is run using multiple CPUs and/or GPUs.

Many major vendors offer CFD software, notably Ansys, which has products such as Fluent, CFD and CFX. Other well-known products include Autodesk’s Inventor and CFD, MSC’s Dytran and Solidworks.

ECAD – Electronic Computer Aided Design

Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) is a special branch of software that is dedicated to the design and production of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). The “CAD” in the name is a bit misleading, CAD is focused on design, while the best ECAD products cover the whole board manufacture process from design through to assembly and even parts explosion and bill of materials (BOM) generation.

One of the leaders in this field is Cadence Software with its Allegro software, which is focused on the design aspect, and some other products that are devoted to MCAD, the manufacture aspect, and IDX that allows electronic and mechanical engineers to collaborate on the board design and manufacture. OpenLM also supports Mentor Graphics’Xpedition PCB engineering suite.

EDA – Engineering Design Automation

Another acronym that is synonymous with EDT.

EDT – Engineering Design Tools

EDT is a global term for specialized engineering software, and includes any software that the engineer could find in his digital “toolbox”.

FEA and FEM – Finite Element Analysis and Method

Finite element analysis (FEA) is one of the CAE family of software. FEA software performs simulations and is usually run in batch mode. There is a wide variety of FEA software available, such as Simulia’s Abaqus, Nastran, originally from NASA and now available from MSC and Siemens, Livermore’s LS-DYNA and Ansys. There are many FEA packages that originated in universities and through research. These generally do not come with a license manager, but OpenLM has a feature that allows software like this to be monitored.

GIS – Geographical Information System

Geographic information systems (GIS) have been around for a long time and ArcGIS was the software that OpenLM is founded on. The founders were working at a company that used the ESRI product extensively, and the need for an independent license manager was identified. They started up a company that initially offered a solution for ArcGIS license management, then AutoCAD, followed by software from many other vendors. Today over 900 customers rely on OpenLM to manage their licenses, in industries ranging from Aerospace to scientific research.  

GPU – Graphics Processing Unit

What was originally a circuit board designed to support computer games has become a vital cog in modern computing. The parallel processing capabilities of graphics cards cuts down processing time and costs on intensive software processing required by CAE applications. Nvidia is the leading producer in the GPU field and they have collaborated with some of the leading software vendors, such as Dassault to optimise processing using the Nvidia boards. Recently OpenLM was requested to include Nvidia license management as part of the supported vendor products and this has been done. This simplifies work in advanced simulations and calculations, where cost of processing is an important consideration.

MDB – Multibody Dynamics

Multibody dynamics (MDB) is a CAE software tool. The discipline examines the behaviour of mechanical moving parts and the influences of external forces on these parts. Because the effects of these forces are unpredictable and cause friction and instability, this software can predict weaknesses and other potential flaws as well as mean time to failure. Some major software vendors in this field are Comsol, who have a Multibody Dynamics Module, and MSC Software with its Adams, Adams Car and SimXpert products.

PLM – Product Lifecycle Management

Early engineering software was siloed into different areas of expertise, and did not integrate readily with other applications used in the overall production of a part or product. This has been changed with the introduction of product lifecycle management (PLM) which covers the whole value chain of product development from inception to market. It also goes beyond this in that it supports maintenance during the product’s life up to the time when it needs to be disposed of as it has reached the end of its life. Some of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software also lays claim to PLM management, but the main players in the PLM space are, Siemens, Dassault and Autodesk.

The Wide World of Engineering Software

These are not the only acronyms in the alphabet soup, and there are also many products that do not have a handy acronym to classify them that are used in various industries and engineering disciplines. Building roads and bridges, communicating via radio and satellite, designing transmission networks and the many facets of the oil and gas industry, all have their own specialized software tools. OpenLM covers many of these products too. If you are looking for effective license management over your valuable software, why not try our product and see if it works for you. You can download an evaluation copy and try it for 30 days at https://www.openlm.com/download/.

 

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How a Company Got 20/20 Vision into their Engineering Software Licenses

Engineering software is generally very expensive, and most organizations enter perpetual license agreements that are based on the number of concurrent users, rather than buying a license per user. This can achieve considerable cost savings, but there are many companies that do not realise that there are even more savings to be had.

One of our customers, a US company that specializes in transportation and mobility solutions for the 21st century, were frustrated by the lack of visibility into how their engineering tools, which included ArcGIS and AutoCAD, were being used. The license management software provided by the vendors did not enable the license administrator to know whether licenses were booked out were actually being used. While it was important to know this at any time, it became especially important when other users were trying to check out licenses and were getting denied. What the system administrator needed was license management software that gave him real-time insights into what was happening, as well as comprehensive reporting which could be presented to management of how efficiently licenses were being managed.

After investigation and evaluation of software applications in the market that could offer a better solution than the vendor products, the company selected OpenLM. OpenLM’s core product contained all the features that were needed for effective license management. Once the product was implemented, the company was able to accomplish considerable time and cost savings. Idle licenses could be identified and harvested back into the license pool to prevent denials. This has resulted in an excellent ratio of three users per software license. Planning for license renewals is much easier, with detailed reporting available that analyses the current usage and indicates whether more licenses are needed or whether the pool can even be reduced. Another benefit is that only one license management tool is needed to manage the different software engineering products, instead of having to open a license manager for each product.

The case study can be downloaded here Transportation Experts Case Study 

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What Flexnet version is ESRI ArcGIS using ?

OpenLM monitors FlexLM license managers, for improved Application usage management. Historically – OpenLM was written by ArcGIS users for ArcGIS users, and it is an ESRI partner.

As such, we in OpenLM receive many queries about ESRI ArcGis licensing, one of which is: “What Flexnet publisher version is my ESRI ArcGis using ?”

Well – ESRI has written it all down in this post.
Enjoy.

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ESRI ArcGIS 10.1 SP1 version published

General

ESRI has recently published the ArcGIS 10.1 SP 1 patch version.
This release contains a list of bug fixes and enhanced performance.

Relevant to OpenLM users:

One fix is related to the desktop’s license borrowing capability:
NIM060359: High Latency/Low Bandwidth connections including VPNs may prevent license borrowing.

OpenLM compatibility

OpenLM has already installed and tested the patch with OpenLM Server and Agent version 1.7. No compatibility issues were found.

Further information

If you have any questions regarding the upgrade of ESRI ArcGIS to the 10. SP1 version, please contact OpenLM: support@openlm.com

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Application Note 1026: Basic OpenLM Server configuration for FlexLM

General

OpenLM supports the monitoring of a wide, and ever growing variety of license servers. Among those are Flexera FlexLM (Flexnet) , Beta LM, IBM LUM, DSLS, Sentinel HASP, Sentinel RMS, RLM, and LM-X. This is an description of the basic procedure for configuring the Openlm server to interface a FlexLM license manager, to monitor Flexnet reporting.

Procedure

Please first refer to this Application Note. It gives a general description of the OpenLM system; what should be installed where, and who needs to communicate with whom.

Install the latest version of the OpenLM server. It is found on the OpenLM site.

  1. Configure the OpenLM server so that it would communicate with the License server:
  • Open the “OpenLM server configuration window, On the “License Servers” tab (see image below).

  • Click the ‘Add’ button, and type in the license server parameters (Type, Host name (or IP), port & time zone). In order to find the Server name and port, please refer to this post.
  • You can type in a descriptive name to make recognizing the sever easier
  • In the image above, these parameters are: FLEXlm, olm-lm-arcgis10, 27000, UTC+08, “ArcGIS 10 Head Office”.
  • Click the ‘Apply’ button. Select ‘Restart now’. That’s it: the OpenLM server is
  1. Check the connection of the OpenLM server to the license server; click the ‘Check’ button. A text would follow. This text is a query of the License server. It indicates whether a connection to that server is established.
  1. Now open the EasyAdmin web application. Click start -> Management -> License servers. The “License servers” window appears. Verify that the configured license managers appear on the list. Circle nodes indicate a connection to a license server. Square nodes indicate a connection to a Broker which is installed on the License server machine.


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Flexera FLEXnet license management implementation in ESRI ArcGIS 10

Licensing ArcGIS version 10

It is a common misconception that migrating to ArcGIS version 10 replaces the licensing software. This is incorrect; ESRI has only upgraded the old FLEXlm version to a newer one. The FLEXlm licensing software has gone through many changes during the passed several years, and is now called FLEXera FLEXnet for publishers. For every practical term – it is still the same good old FLEXlm software.

The main changes

The main changes that have been implemented in the ESRI ArcGIS licensing scheme include:

  • The FLEXlm (Flexnet) license management tool was upgraded from version 7.* to version 11.6.
  • The license file was replaced with trusted storage, in order to enhance security.
  • The FLEXlm LMTOOLS UI is not provided with the ESRI ArcGIS 10 package. ESRI provides it’s own management tools.
  • Borrowing licenses is made possible in ESRI ArcGIS 10.

Problems

Some problems have appeared in FlexLM reporting alongside these changes:

  • Due to the use of FLEXera trusted storage some imporant FLEXlm management tools are malfunctioning, for example, lmutil.
  • The FlexLM ‘lmremove’ utility has been omitted from the pool of license management commands. This is a known ESRI ArcGIS version 10 issue.
  • ArcGIS 10 monitors Borrowed licenses on its proprietary interface. The license output file tends to be inaccurate when it comes to reporting Borrowed licenses. The Identity of the users who borrowed licenses is also concealed from the output file.

Effect of these issues on OpenLM

These issues have imposed several limitations on the capabilities of OpenLM when interfacing ESRI ArcGIS 10.

  • Instead of the old ‘linger’ license output-file line, Borrowed licenses are marked with the “ACTIVATED LICENSE” line. These lines’ syntax excludes the identity of the user who borrowed the licenses.
  • The output-file lmutil lmstat information regarding license borrowing is inaccurate; “ACTIVATED LICENSE” lines are multiplied, effectively increasing the number of licenses reported as borrowed.
  • The absence of the “lmremove” utility implies that the ArcGIS license can not be removed, thus application the use of the “Suspend and Resume” method is not possible in OpenLM. Also, for the same reason, the “License removal” button in the “Active products” window is not functional.

The OpenLM Advantage

The OpenLM Active Agent may still “Save and Close” the ArcGIS 10 extension enabled application. This is regardless of the omission of the “lmremove” command. The closure process employs the applications’ own closure APIs, sent by the Active Agent, and applied by the OpenLM extension. Closing ArcGIS 10 may also be done via the “Close Application” button on EasyAdmin’s “Active Products” window.

This makes OpenLM the only solution for remotely saving & closing ArcGIS 10.

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ArcGIS 10.0, Service Pack 3

General:

In their blog dating September 09 2011, ESRI has announced the upcoming release of ArcGIS’s Service Pack 3. This Service Pack is due in October 2011, and deals with a long list of enhancements and fixed issues.

Reference:

Please take a look at the ArcGIS blog space for the ArcGIS Service Pack 3 item:

http://blogs.esri.com/Dev/blogs/arcgis/archive/2011/09/09/ArcGIS-10.0-Service-Pack-3.aspx

And at the list of fixes and enhancements :

http://downloads.esri.com/support/documentation/ao_/10.0_SP3_Announcement.pdf


Items of interest in respect to OpenLM:

  • NIM066475: ArcGIS Desktop Administrator is unable to return borrowed licenses if DNS resolution is required to reach the license manager.

  • NIM065008: Running a geoprocessing tool using background geoprocessing causes license error in ArcEngine 10.0

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ArcGIS Software Bug/Problem: “The ArcGIS Desktop Administrator does not connect to ArcGIS License Manager 9.3 while it is connected through VPN or network speeds are slow”

Details:

You must not panic when you see above mentioned issue during the process of ArcGIS license-claiming from ArcGIS License Manager 9.3. This is a software bug mostly observed in all level of ArcGIS software ver9.3; earlier releases of this software did not observe this problem but following mentioned all levels observed this issue.

  • ArcGISArcEditor 9.3
  • ArcGIS – ArcInfo 9.3
  • ArcGIS – ArcView 9.3 & 9.3.1
  • ArcInfo Workstation 9.3

All of the above software modules observe this problem while operating on following Windows Operating systems.

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows 2003 Server
  • Vista

This bug is identified by the ID ‘NIM037135’ and FlexNet licensing error ID “-15,570” which is shown in the error report/message returned against licensing request to the server. Following error message is returned with related details:



The name of the server and license path may vary as per network configuration. The error numbering scheme will be -15 and followed by 570 after comma; this is ArcGIS error reporting format.

Reasons for error:

This happens mostly in following two conditions when network/concurrent licensing scheme for ArcGIS is implemented.

  • The connection between server and license requesting machine is through VPN.
  • The connection is either Dial-up or a slow ISDN/DSL one.

Solution:

There is a stepwise process to resolve this issue of the software through modification of the environment variables in the Windows operating systems. The network or server client messages take certain time to process and reach at their destinations. Therefore, the waiting time of the program for communication response to reach is set a bit larger to resolve this issue on the windows OS. Stepwise procedure is given below:

  • Right click My Computer and choose properties.
  • On system property dialogue box choose advanced tab.
  • Click on the environment Variables
  • On environment variable dialogue box choose system variables field and hit the new button
  • A new system variable dialogue box with two fields appears; put “FLEXLM_TIMEOUT” in variable name and put 1000000 in variable value field
  • .Click OK on all three dialogue boxes to close them
  • Launch the ArcGIS 9.3 program

If the problem still persists then, repeat above mentioned procedure with an increase the variable value in the multiples of 1000000 micro seconds and reach to the value which gives you satisfactory communication results.

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ESRI ArcGIS setup on Windows 7 64 bit Operating System – Error 1303

ESRI ArcGIS (ArcInfo, ArcEditor and ArcView) is supported on both 32 and 64 operating systems. We setup the system using a FLEXlm floating license manager.

Inserting the disk and starting the installation. It takes some time and the we have received error 1303 The installation has insufficient privileges to access the directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ArcGIS\Bin. ESRI provides this assistance.

This time we installed the software as administrator. Browse the install disk and execute the setup.exe under D:\Desktop.

Using “Run As Administrator” solved the problem.

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OpenLM Active Agent’s “Set ArcGIS License Level” Tool

OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS provides users with a wide range of tools that make it possible to enhance the usability of Desktop ArcGIS licenses.

With these tools, users can:

  1. Query license availability
  2. Check who is using licenses at any given time
  3. Get full details on license users
  4. Receive license-availability notifications when licenses become available
  5. Reopen closed projects
  6. Set the ArcGIS license level

This post focuses on the sixth item in the previous list: Setting the ArcGIS license level.

First of all, it is important to note that ESRI Desktop ArcGIS comes in three levels:

Viewer – While Viewer is a very powerful software package, it is entry-level software as far as ESRI ArcGIS Desktop is concerned. Also known as ArcView, Viewer allows users to view, edit, and analyze GIS data stored in files or SDE. The capabilities of this license level can be enhanced by using different extensions from ESRI or third-party developers.

Please note that Viewer, or ArcView, is called VIEWER in FLEXlm.

Editor – Editor provides users with the capabilities of Viewer as well as tools designed for editing spatial data. The tools of this level make the creation of map and spatial data in GIS easy; they can edit:

  • Geodatabase files and data
  • Multi-user geodatabases
  • Versioning
  • Raster data and vectorization
  • Advanced vector data
  • Coverages
  • Coordinate geometry (COGO)
  • Geometric networks

Please note that Editor is called EDITOR in FLEXlm.

Professional – Professional is the most powerful Desktop-GIS package from ESRI. The professional license provides users with all capabilities of the previous levels in addition to other features, including:

  • Advanced spatial data analysis
  • Geoprocessing
  • Data management

Please note that Professional is called ARCINFO in FLEXlm.

ESRI Desktop ArcGIS software allows users to switch between the different license levels by using ArcGIS Administrator software.

The tool pictured above allows users to switch between “Concurrent Use” and “Single Use” licenses. It also allows users to access the license-borrowing capability that was released with version 10 of Desktop ArcGIS.

To make changes in this form, users set values in the workstation registry. For example, entering HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\ESRI\License10.0\SOFTWARE_CLASS = Viewer into a workstation’s registry will set that system’s license level to Viewer (ArcView).

Set ArcGIS License Level
OpenLM Active Agent’s “Set ArcGIS License Level” tool provides users with a quick, easy-to-use method for setting their workstation’s license level; it uses an environment variable (ESRI_SOFTWARE_CLASS). When enabled, this tool allows users to quickly change their software levels without having to use the ArcGIS Administrator tool.

The possible values of the environment variable are:

  • Viewer – To use the ArcView license level
  • Editor – To use the ArcEditor license level
  • Professional – To use the ArcInfo license level

Using the environment-variables method provided by OpenLM Active Agent offers numerous benefits:

  • It is quick and easy (It only requires 2 mouse clicks)
  • It is a great alternative to granting users complete access to the ArcGIS Administrator tool
  • It provides the system administrator with an easy way to control users’ access to licenses

There is, however, one drawback to using the OpenLM Agent tool:

  • It may cause problems since it takes priority over the ArcGIS Administrator tool.

Disabling the OpenLM Agent Tool
If any problems do occur while using the OpenLM Agent tool, it can be disabled in two easy steps. First, navigate to the software folder, which is typically located in C:\Program Files\OpenLM\OpenLM Agent. Then, once in the folder, delete “plugin.xml.”

The next version of OpenLM Agent will provide built-in support for enabling and disabling extensions.

Summary
This post focuses primarily on OpenLM Active Agent’s “Set ArcGIS License Level” tool, but it also briefly covers the three levels of ESRI Desktop ArcGIS and ArcGIS Administrator’s method of changing license levels. The benefits of using “Set ArcGIS License Level” to change users’ license levels are discussed, and the methods used to do so are explained. Additionally, for system administrators who would prefer to disable the OpenLM Active Agent method of changing users’ license levels, there is a quick guide that can be followed to do so.

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