Autodesk network to subscription licenses, plan your way

Autodesk is determined to move all its customers from using the network licensing model to a subscription or named user model. It is important that a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis is done before deciding what action to take, even if top management is pressurizing for a resolution to the situation.

While the network model is generally better for most organizations, there is  no one-size-fits-all answer to the dilemma, some companies might even benefit from switching to the named user model.

What would be a good methodology to consider the switch? We could apply a two-stage process.

Stage One, Identify your Baseline.

  1. Know your current maintenance costs.
  2. Count the number of unique users that you currently have
  3. Multiply the subscription cost by the number of users to understand what your annual cost will be.

Compare the price per year. If the subscription cost is higher than the current perpetual cost, refuse to upgrade. The difference you see now is the MINIMAL amount of money you can save!

If the subscription cost is equal to or lower than the current perpetual cost, move to the next stage that is checking if you currently utilize your license correctly and that you have not been missing out on potential savings.

Based on our experience, depending on the efforts one is willing to invest it is possible to get 100% more usage from the existing license pool, sometimes more. This would mean that you could decrease your licensing costs by 50% or more. In order to achieve this, you will need to have a software tool that will help you to optimize your license usage. The better the software you employ, the higher savings you will achieve.

Stage Two: Identify Where You can Optimize Usage
There are two main areas that require attention:-

  • your license server configuration
  • how both dedicated and network licenses are being utilized

License servers – the more license servers you have, the less optimized your configuration. License server consolidation is one of the most efficient ways to improve access to license pools. In the case of multi-nationals, it is not always possible to consolidate all the servers into a single centralized pool, because the licensing agreements were entered into with regional subsidiaries or partners of Autodesk and they are treated as separate entities. Even so, there will be at least a few consolidations possible, which has additional benefits in that the number of license servers is reduced and the complexity of managing the licenses is reduced as well.

Current License Utilization – Dedicated Licenses

A comprehensive audit of which licenses are being used and by whom is the next step. In the previous step we paid attention to the concurrent license pools. There is a good possibility that there are quite a few dedicated licenses on site. Sometimes granting a user a dedicated license makes sense, where that user spends most of their time using AutoCAD or Revit, for example. What often happens is that a dedicated or named user license was obtained for a short-term need, like a special project, and the user no longer uses it to the extent that a dedicated license is necessary. Going forward, such users can access licenses from the concurrent pool. As you are still evaluating whether subscription licenses will work for you, you should leave these licenses as is for now, bearing in mind the cost savings of dispensing with them.

Current License Utilization – Network Licenses

Once the license pools have been reconfigured, it is time to check what the actual utilization looks like. Data must be gathered on:-

  • Who is consuming the license?
  • On which workstation is it being used?
  • Where there are several software versions, which license is being used?
  • What time of day is the license being used, which aids in understanding usage peaks and troughs?
  • How long is the license session between access and release of the license?

If you are relying on Autodesk’s license manager software, you may find that this information is not readily available to you. This is where a dedicated license management software tool becomes useful. When you want to take the next step and start optimizing usage, the tool will quickly become worth its weight in gold.

However, just by using the basic information you have gathered, you will have identified areas for further investigation, such as:-

  • Should a user have access and why are they using the software? Maybe they just need a viewer to see a drawing, they are not actually drafting or designing
  • Why is the server underutilized?
  • Why are you getting denials when the server is not being heavily utilized?
  • Are users who book out a license for the whole day actually using the tool all day, or is it idle most of the time?
  • Are there users who do not release the software when they are finished, they keep it booked out overnight.

Autodesk’s license manager will definitely not give you all this information. You need a tool like OpenLM’s License Parser to understand what is really happening. Below is an example of reporting on license utilization from one of OpenLM’s customers.

AutoCAD license utilization

 

AutoCAD license utilization at an OpenLM customer

This chart shows how the licenses are utilized realtime. You can see from this graph that, although 70 licenses have been purchased, this could be reduced to 30 licenses without any significant change in quality of service.

First Conclusions

By this stage, you will already have a clearer view on whether subscription licenses are cost-effective for your organization. You might already find that the costs outweigh the benefits. This is even before you have started on your license optimization. You might even have identified that the pros and cons are pretty evenly balanced at this stage. It is premature to decide at this stage. We recommend that you implement some changes that will optimize utilization of your license pool(s) further. Once you have done this, you will get a clear view of your Autodesk license future.

Some Changes that will Reduce License Waste

The changes described below require targeted reporting to implement them. You will not be able to extract this data from your Autodesk license manager. The cost savings that you will achieve will more than pay for good license management software that is written to satisfy the customer’s needs rather than the vendor’s requirements.

Introduce Chargebacks

If you do not charge licensing costs back to the respective business units that use the licenses, even your best managers are pretty relaxed about usage. Start charging back to cost centers and see how things change. The license costs will affect the bottom line for most managers, and they will start monitoring usage and cutting down on unnecessary use. You will be able to make this easier for them by providing reporting on idle licenses within their cost centre, which is part of the next change.

Actively Manage Idle Licenses

If you have not been able to manage idle licenses before, you will find that most users are very lax about checking a license back when they are not using it. You need reporting that will alert you to idle licenses. You can either “harvest” these licenses manually, or automate harvesting to occur after a certain elapsed number of idle minutes. Below are several reports available in OpenLM on idle licensing, from selected customer sites.

 idle licenses

List of idle licenses and elapsed time

It is easy to see from the display above which licenses need to be reclaimed. You also have the option to close the application or just remove the license. It may occur that you have a peak period and licenses are in short supply. You may decide to close the licenses for a low priority group to free them for another group who have top priority. However, this is not necessary in this case; here are 10 licenses you can harvest right away:-

 

license idle for over an hour

Licenses that have been idle for over an hour

You can even interrogate usage on a per license basis. Here is an example below.

interrogate license usage
The effect of harvesting is that your actual licensing utilization will drop quite dramatically. You will now be getting a far more accurate picture of your Autodesk license requirements. By now you should have discovered that you have more network licenses than you need for the actual current usage, like our customers who had 70 licenses but only needed 30. You might even have discovered “shelf” licenses, licenses that are completely unused, but you are still renewing the license and maintenance agreements for them. You will also have identified serial offenders who “hog” licenses and can apply some change management.

You are now ready to make an evaluation of whether you should move to Autodesk subscription licenses or not.

Will Subscription Licenses Work for Us? Some Assumptions

  1. There is huge industry pushback on the move to subscription licenses. We are not alone.
  2. The different features and products that are available in the subscription do not affect the decision-making process, we are deciding at vendor level.
  3. We would like to keep the same service level we have now.
  4. This was a preliminary exercise. We can optimize even further.
  5. There might be a case for a few subscription licenses (e.g. full-time draughtsmen)

With the data we have collected from our investigation, we can make an informed and objective decision on whether adopting subscription licenses and retiring concurrent licenses will work for us or not.

 network licenses compared to subscription

Graphical analysis of network licenses compared to subscription

  • In the graph above, the blue line is the named license requirement, where each user needs a subscription. This is a one-to-one relationship and creates a 45% angle.
  • The red line is the best case for concurrent license utilization. Some customers have even achieved a ratio of 1:5 licenses/users, but the average is probably 1:1.5
  • The orange line is a more realistic adjusted network license utilization.
  • Both the red and orange lines will be unique to your organization.
  • The saving exists in the area between the blue and the orange lines and is represented by the green arrow.

What are Autodesk offering?

The subscription option is not cheap- the solution is a package with multiple products, which you may not need and is almost €4000 per user. Even the discounted cost per user for 5 years is almost €15 000.

Subscription multi user – This is a subscription option where the user does not log in using his login credentials (user name and password), but logs in via the network and the license manager authenticates him,which is more flexible than the named user alternative.

Keeping your network licenses – Autodesk is increasing your maintenance costs over the next few years, which will erode the value of your concurrent pool – if you decide to continue paying maintenance costs. The original license purchase is a sunk cost and does not affect the calculation.

Market Forecast

Another factor that is vital in your considerations is your projections on your organization’s growth over the next few years.

Optimistic Scenario

The company will continue to perform well, new projects will come in regularly and we will need more licenses to support our growth. We have the following options:-
Subscription – we will need to buy subscription per user. – no other options
Network – squeeze more usage out of the existing license server (possible!!) OR buy some additional subscriptions.

Pessimistic Scenario

Economy is depressed -the company has lost projects, needs to scale back and needs less licenses –
Subscription – In the first three years, giving up any license will cause a loss of the discount benefit on subscriptions. After the first three years, giving up subscriptions has no effect.
Network – can reduce the usability and keep for better times and consider stopping maintenance in the short-term.

Other Considerations

You need some additional modules that are included in the latest industry package or the “one” Autodesk, but not in your current agreement. In this case consider buying a few subscriptions, without changing tour network pool.

What Most Customers have Told us

We stayed with our network agreement and purchased few subscriptions by swapping a few concurrent licenses to take advantage of the discount. We now have the benefit of having a hybrid license environment. We allocated the named licenses to a handful of power users and let the majority of users rely on the network licenses – we still have the benefit of the concurrent pool which costs less because of the licenses we converted to subscription licenses.

Even with a clear view of your actual current usage, this is not an easy decision to make, which is why most customers have hedged their bets by opting for a hybrid model.

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Different types of licensing models

Licensed Software applications are managed in a variety of methods. These methods differ in

  • The license management interface and process,

  • License allocation and availability,

  • Compliance to licensing agreements,

  • Usage chargeback considerations.

License vendors should be aware of the different opportunities and disadvantages resident in each of these methods. System administrators and license managers should also heed the capabilities and prices that are embedded in the different options and methods of software licensing. This document is a brief review of these different available licensing models.

License dongles or license usb keys

This is an electronic device provided by the software vendor, which enforces copy protection and authenticity validation of a licensed application. The hardware key is programmed with a singular product key and is attached to an external bus of the computer to enable work with the software. This form of licensing is very rigid, unconfigurable and lean on features. Consequently – dongle licenses are typically the cheapest form of supplied licenses.

Software node locked licenses

This type of license is merely a software implementation of the former one: Prior to enabling the application on the designated computer, The vendor would provide a license key or license file specific to that machine. The result is a rigid – format license per machine.

Floating licenses, Network licenses, Concurrent license

These are synonyms to the same concept of possessing expensive licenses in a smaller number than the maximal number of users. Floating licenses effectively shares software assets among users on a network, time-dividing licenses according to a queue of demand; When a user requires a license, a request is made to a central license server, which in turn either grants the request or refuses it according to availability or predefined constraints.

Floating licenses often involve a certain form of “contract” that articulates the quantity of acquired licenses and the policy of permitted usage. This license file may be either physically provided by the vendor or reside in trusted storage on the network.

Some Concurrent License Management systems provide methods of excluding limited quantities of licenses from the collective license pool, to assign them to specific users or workstations, for either a predefined period or indefinitely. These methods would also be elaborated in the license file.

License Borrowing

License Borrowing”, also referred to as “License Commuting” or “Offline license” is a method of providing application usage privileges in the absence of connection to the central license server. This is an effective solution for travelling businessmen and engineers, that need to work using a laptop computer.

The Borrowed licenses’ option is usually the most expensive form of licensing; Usage is counted as the entire period in which the license was extracted from the pool. It is recommended to return license servers to the pool as soon as possible.

Host locked, Node locked licenses, Single Use licenses

These are synonyms to licenses that are allocated to specific workstations. This option is defined in the licensing files or “Options files” provided by some license management systems. Connecting a floating license to specific workstations decreases license maneuverability, but in turn it ensures the productivity of certain staff members, and generally lowers the cost of licensing in the organization.

Named users

Similar to having licenses tied to workstations, there is also the possibility to connect a specific license to a predefined user. the advantage of the latter is the user’s capability to apply their usage rights once, on each of the organization’s workstations.

OpenLM

OpenLM is an Application Usage Management tool, which monitors license usage on every type of the license models as described above. OpenLM can either query the central license manager for license usage, or manage workstation specific license – dongle applications by introducing the OpenLM Agent module on each of the ‘Dongle’-ed machines.

 

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OpenLM monitoring of Aveva PDMS and Aveva Marine licenses.

Aveva PDMS and Aveva Marine environments

Aveva Marine is a comprehensive suite of software modules for offshore and shipping construction projects. It integrates several views and disciplines into a single project space for superior visualization and integrity between the project components.

Aveva PDMS provides similar capabilities for 3D plant designing. Users are able to select, place, assemble and check the integrity of complex 3D plant schemes.

Aveva licensing

  • Prior to the 12.1. series’ version, AVEVA Marine and AVEVA Plant (PDMS) employed the Flexera Flexnet manager (FlexLM) concurrent license manager to dispense and keep track of floating Aveva licenses. OpenLM fully supports FlexLM license monitoring.

  • In the 12.1 series, Aveva has drifted from the FlexLM solution to the Sentinel RMS license management tool to manage their floating licenses. They still kept the lmutil tools within their installation folders, but from our experience – running these lmutil lmstat commands produced empty results.

  • Instead, license usage information could be obtained by the Sentinel RMS command:  lsmon.exe (In fact – we needed to upgrade the lsmon.exe version to “Sentinel RMS Development Kit 8.5.3.0035 Application Monitor” in order to match our Aveva version). OpenLM fully supports Sentinel RMS license monitoring.

  • Another surprise Aveva 12.1 had stored for us was the license file, which was a type of hybrid between FlexLM and RMS. It was in XML format and contained the following headers:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>

<CompositeLicenseFile xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” xmlns:xsd=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema”>

<Hostname> … </Hostname>

<RMSlicenseFile> … </RMSlicenseFile>

<FlexLicenseFile> … </FlexLicenseFile>

<ProductFeatureMappingFile> … </ProductFeatureMappingFile>

<ARMS_ID> … </ARMS_ID>

<RevokeList> … </RevokeList>

</CompositeLicenseFile>

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Precedence for determining the Autodesk license server

General

The Autodesk network installation has several methods to determine the Autodesk License Manager. These are the

  • ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE environment variable
  • ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE registry key
  • LM_LICENSE_FILE variable
  • licpath.lic file and
  • License Finder dialog box configuration.

This document notes these methods, and clarifies their respective precedence:

1. ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE environment variable

When running an Autodesk software product that uses the FLEXlm based version of the Autodesk License Manager (AdLM), it first reads the environment variable ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE to determine where to look for its network license.

2. ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE registry key

If the servers specified by ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE are not available, or are out of concurrent licenses, the client reads a registry key to determine where to look next.

According to this article, the registry key is:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\FLEXlm License Manager\ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE

From our experience, the registry key is:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\FLEXlm License Manager\ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE

3. LM_LICENSE_FILE environment variable

Similar to the ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE environment variable, the LM_LICENSE_FILE environment variable also points to a specific FlexLM license server. This variable It is common to all Flex enabled applications, so it is not recommended for use on a multi vendor environment.

4. licpath.lic file

The network installation creates a licpath.lic file. It is created on the client workstation for a client installation, and created in the run-tree folder on the server for a network heavy installation. The licpath.lic file must contain the following lines:
SERVER <Server name> <MAC address>
USE_SERVER

5. License Finder dialog box

If upon application bring-up all the above methods have failed to determine the location of the Autodesk license manager, The “FLEXlm License Finder” dialog box appears and states that:

“Your application was not able to obtain a license because the FLEXnet license server manager could not determine where to find the licensing data it needs”

Autodesk requires the user to either “Specify the License Server System” or “Specify the License File”. Select “Specify the License Server System” and click Next. The UI will prompt you to type in the Autodesk license manager location.

Notes

1. The dialog box configuration changes the ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE registry key, so it will take precedence over licpath.lic and LM_LICENSE_FILE. In order to return to those methods the ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE key would have to be deleted from the registry.

2. OpenLM interfaces the Autodesk FlexLM based license manager to provide real-time application usage metering and license usage statistics. It automatically optimizes license utilization for the benefit of users and license administrators alike.

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OpenLM: Concurrent license monitoring and optimization tool

What is OpenLM ?

OpenLM is a comprehensive license-management solution, designed to monitor and optimize the usage of concurrent (‘floating’) license software. OpenLM is capable of monitoring a wide variety of license managers, e.g.: FlexNet (FlexLM), Sentinel RMS, and DSLS.

Who was OpenLM Designed For?

Unlike other license management systems that only offer administration and license monitoring statistics, OpenLM also optimizes license usage in a unique manner that provides all personnel with useful license-related functions.

Organization managers:

  • Know what you have: License inventory.
  • Plan license maintenance and procurement of expensive licenses.
  • Charge projects or business units for software usage time.
  • Cut costs by dropping maintenance for licenses that are no longer in use.

Administrator view:

  • Real time usage management and troubleshooting.
  • Extract license usage statistics information and patterns.
  • Roles and Permissions: Grant licenses according to specific Users’ permissions.

End User View:

  • End users are not kept in the dark. They are informed about the status of denied licenses, and receive a License availability notification when a license becomes vacant.
  • Who is using the license I need, and what are this person’s contact details?

Supported features

License managers:

  • OpenLM interfaces a wide variety of license managers. Here is a list of them.
  • Concurrent monitoring of multiple license servers on multiple time zones.
  • Management of Floating, Node-locked and Borrowed licenses.
  • Detection of idle sessions, and retrieval of idle licenses.

Monitoring capabilities:

  • Easily review license inventory in real time.
  • Extract license activity reports (e.g. Flexnet report), with configurable resolution.

Infrastructure

  • Operational over WAN and LAN networks.
  • Interface license managers that run on UNIX, Linux, or Windows’ Operating systems.
  • Web-based user interface, applicable on any major browser.
  • Mobile interface application enhances monitoring abilities for system administrators.
  • OpenLM supports both external and embedded databases.

What does “Open” in “OpenLM” stand for?

OpenLM provides a set of open and documented APIs that enable customers and business partners to develop applications that integrate OpenLM software capabilities.

OpenLM Screenshots

Watch the OpenLM EasyAdmin screenshots on the OpenLM site.

Want to evaluate the software ?

You can get the most updated version of OpenLM from our OpenLM downloads area. After filling in your name and email – you’d be directed to the downloads’ section. The Installation process is easy and straightforward, but if you still need any assistance – please send an email to support at openlm.com, and we’ll be glad to help.

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Get more out of your floating licenses

OpenLM is a complete floating license management solution designed to optimize the use of licensed software: more production for lower cost.
OpenLM is made to harvest idle licenses, and improve license utilization of any organization: big or small.

Who was the OpenLM Utilizer Designed For?

Unlike other license management systems that only offer administration and license monitoring statistics, the OpenLM Utilizer optimizes license usage in a unique manner that provides all personnel with useful license-related functions.

Organization managers:

  • Know what you have: Inventory.
  • Plan license maintenance and procurement of expensive licenses.
  • Charge projects or business units for software usage time.
  • Cut costs by dropping maintenance for licenses that are no longer in use.

Administrator view:

  • Real time license usage management
  • Alerts – Real time troubleshooting
  • Extract usage statistics information and patterns as reports or charts.
  • Roles and Permissions: Grant licenses according to specific Users’ permissions. Enforce concurrent License restriction.

End User View:

  • End users are not kept in the dark. They are informed about the status of denied licenses.
  • Receive a License availability notification when a license becomes vacant.
  • Who is using the license I need?
  • What is this person’s contact details?

Supported features

License managers:

  • OpenLM interfaces a wide variety of license managers, e.g.: FLEXlm / Flexnet, IBM LUM, Sentinel RMS, Sentinel HASP, RLM, DSLS and other leading license managers.
  • OpenLM supports Concurrent monitoring of multiple license servers on multiple time zones.
  • OpenLM supports management of Floating, Node-locked and Borrowed licenses.

Monitoring capabilities:

  • Easily review license inventory in real time.
  • Extract license activity reports, with configurable resolution.
  • Receive FLEXlm reports, statistics and charting (FLEXnet reports).
  • Receive Billing reports for any time period, per user or software (FLEXbill capabilities).

Infrastructure:

  • OpenLM may work over WAN and LAN networks.
  • OpenLM employs a web-based user interface that works with any supported browser.
  • A Mobile interface application enhances monitoring abilities for system administrators.
  • OpenLM may interface license managers that run on UNIX, Linux, or Windows’ Operating systems
  • OpenLM supports both external and embedded databases.

Proactive capabilities:

  • Release orphan licenses with a single mouse click.
  • Query users and licenses from any workstation.

Other features

  • A customizable alert system
  • An open, detailed API

OpenLM Architecture

OpenLM’s basic software package includes the core OpenLM Server module and its user interface; the OpenLM EasyAdmin module. In addition to these core components, the OpenLM Broker, OpenLM Alerts module and the OpenLM Utilizer Agent modules are also incorporated in the basic software package.

The OpenLM Server

is the core element of the OpenLM system. It integrates the functionality of all other peripheral system components, such as the OpenLM EasyAdmin, OpenLM Agent, OpenLM Alerts, and OpenLM Broker. The OpenLM Server is implemented as a Windows service and could be installed on any network machine.

OpenLM EasyAdmin

An HTTP based application that can run on any machine in your network. EasyAdmin is the reporting and management interface of OpenLM. It facilitates extraction of lisence usage statistics, and usage repots, as well as the control and optimization of license usage.

OpenLM Agent

An optional component that can be installed on any machine on the network. The Agent enables end users to query license availability and find who is using the license they need at any point in time.

OpenLM Alerts

is a dedicated alerting service for the OpenLM system. This module alerts system administrators when predefined conditions are met.

OpenLM Broker

is an optional server component that runs on the license server machine. The Broker performs tasks as dictated by OpenLM Server, and is required in order to provide advanced licensing information and sophisticated abilities.

OpenLM Screenshots

Watch the OpenLM EasyAdmin screenshots on the OpenLM site.

Want to evaluate the software ?

You can get the most updated version of OpenLM Utilizer from our OpenLM downloads area. After filling in your name and email – you’d be directed to the Downloads section. The Installation process is easy and straightforward, but if you still need any assistance – Please send an email to support@openlm.com, and we’ll be glad to help.

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How do I know the FlexLM license manager port number ?

OpenLM employs the Flexnet / FlexLM reporting mechanism to monitor and optimize concurrent license usage, and obtain license statistics. The FlexLM license manager interfaces licensed applications via predefined ports. You can verify that a port number is set correctly by:

1. Using Flexera’s LMTOOL utility: Select the “Server Status” tab, and click the “Perform Status inquiry” button. the port number would appear on the line that begins with “License server status:” e.g.:

License server status: 27000@My_server

2. You can also find the server name and port number (If defined as static) directly in the license file, in the SERVER line e.g.:

SERVER <ServerName> <hostId> <PortNumber>

USE SERVER

The path and name of the license file is set in the LMTOOLS, under the “Config Services” tab.

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OpenLM Software University Program

OpenLM is a worldwide operating software specialist for management and monitoring of network licenses (floating, concurrent user, token based) utilization. OpenLM’s Software provides a comprehensive management solution for license management software such as FLEXlm, FLEXnet, Sentinel RMS, Sentinel HASP, RLM, IBM LUM DSLS and LM-X.

Universities naturally hold an extensive profile of licensed software applications, a vast population of users set in various groups, and different levels of license usage permissions. Handling a database of this magnitude and complexity is a real challenge.

This is where OpenLM’s benefits show. OpenLM eases the management of diverse license databases, and introduces the option for cost allocation per usage for software licenses, thus reducing usage costs considerably, and minimizing the need for further license acquisition.

In order to improve OpenLM’s cooperation with universities, OpenLM has introduced its new university program. This program provides a professional solution for universities to manage and monitor the utilization of software products like CAD, CAE, Software Engineering and GIS. The program’s pricing scheme takes the universities’ financial considerations into account.

We are convinced that the apparent assets that the OpenLM software brings to license management would be highly appreciated by Universities, and that these benefits would be embraced by faculties such as Engineering (Electrical, Mechanical, Aerodynamics, etc), Physics, Informatics, Architecture and Geo-sciences. OpenLM has been known to improve the utilization of prominent licensed application such as  Autodesk Autocad, ESRI ArcGIS, MATLAB, PTC and CATIA by as much as 30%.

Universities and departments that are interested in this program should contact OpenLM through info@openlm.com.

 

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Application Note 1007: Configuring FLEXlm FLEXnet Option File Using OpenLM Easy Admin

Application Note 1007: Configuring FLEXlm FLEXnet Option File Using OpenLM Easy Admin

General:

FLEXLM ( FlexNet publisher ) option files grant license administrators close control over various operating parameters within the constraints of the license model. Licensed features can be dedicated, denied or reserved to users or groups of users, according to the option file’s setting.

Employing FlexLM option files, the license administrator can:

1. For concurrent (floating) licenses:

  • Allow the use of features

  • Deny the use of features

  • Reserve licenses

 

Concurrent licenses can be held either in license files or in fulfillment records within trusted storage.

2. For all license types:

  • Restrict the number of licenses available

  • Control the amount of information logged about license usage

  • Enable a report log file

  • Control the automatic rereading of licenses

 

FLEXlm Option files are implemented as text files, located on the license server. Although  this method fits the licensing requirements well, the process of creating and maintaining option files is error-prone and difficult to maintain.

The OpenLM solution incorporates synchronization of License administration tools with the organization’s LDAP (Active Directory), keeping the FLEXlm option file up-to-date as users leave or join the organization, or move between groups.

 

Creating an Option File

1. The Option file should be placed under the same directory as the vendor daemon file, in order to enable FlexLM to read it automatically. Locating the Option file in a different folder is possible, but this requires FlexLM to be configured to search for it in that location.

2. The recommended name for the Option file is vendor.opt, where vendor is the vendor daemon name. Note that the name should not contain white spaces ( e.g.: Arcgis vendor: arcgis.opt,  Adsflex vendor: adsflex.opt ) “Vendor name.opt” is illegal.

FLEXlm option file editing

When configuring the option file using OpenLM, the configuration data is presented to the OpenLM Server, and forward by it to the OpenLM Broker, located on the license server machine. The OpenLM Broker updates the option file.

OPENLM SERVER CONFIGURATION

Check the “Enable OpenLM option file management” box

 

It is necessary to install the OpenLM Broker on the license server machine in order to edit the option file using the OpenLM EasyAdmin web application.

OPENLM BROKER INSTALLATION

  • Information about the OpenLM Broker and its installation process is available in Application Note #1004.

  • The latest OpenLM Broker version  is available for download for version 1.8. If you need a previous version please contact Support@openlm.com.

OPENLM BROKER CONFIGURATION

The next step after creating an option file on the license server machine, is to configure the OpenLM Broker to work with it.

 

1. Open the “OpenLM Broker configuration tool” installed on the license server machine

(“Start” → “Programs” → “OpenLM” → “Broker” → “Broker Configuration Tool”). The Broker Configuration Tool window appears.

 

2. On the Broker Configuration Tool window, Click the (+) button near the License server name in the configuration window.

 

 

3. Click the (+) button near “Vendors” (1).

 

4. Click the “Edit” button.

 

5. Check the “Watch Option File” box (2)

 

6. Type in the path to the Option file previously created. (3)

 

7. Restart the OpenLM Broker.

Editing Option Files

OPTION FILE TARGETS: USERS, USER GROUPS, HOSTS, HOST GROUPS AND IPS

Option Files apply license permission limitations to certain target categories; namely Users, User groups, Hosts, Host groups and IPs. Setting up and introducing these targets is beyond the scope of this article, but a short explanation on each of these target categories is attached at the end:

In order to edit option files, select a specific option file, and then apply changes to it.

OPTION FILE SELECTION

1. Open the OpenLM EasyAdmin web application.

2. Click Start → Opt. File Admin. The “Option File” dialog window appears.

3. Select the specific Option file to be edited (e.g.: Autocad Option File) and click “Set”.

 

GLOBAL SETTINGS OF THE VENDOR DAEMON

On the EasyAdmin web application click Start →  Option Files → Policy.

The “Policy of Option File” window appears.

This window comprises of several text boxes:

GROUPCASEINSENSITIVE (OFF / ON)

ON: User names and host names specified with the Options File GROUP and HOST_GROUP keywords respectively, are treated as case insensitive.

OFF (Default): User names and host names are treated as case sensitive.

NOLOG { IN | OUT | DENIED | QUEUED }

Suppresses logging of the selected type of event in the debug log file.  License administrators may use this option to reduce the size of the debug log file, however it can reduce the usefulness of the debug log when debugging license server problems.

  • IN / OUT: Turns off logging of license check-ins and check-outs respectively.

  • DENIED: Turns off logging of license check-out denials.

  • QUEUED: Turns off logging of queued license requests.

REPORTLOG

Specifies the report log file for this vendor daemon. It is recommended to precede the report_log_path with a ‘+’ character to append logging entries; otherwise the file is overwritten each time the daemon is started.

TIMEOUTALL

Specify the idle timeout for all features, after which an inactive license is reclaimed. The software publisher sets a minimum value. If a smaller value is set – it is ignored, and the publisher’s minimum value is used.

DEBUGLOG

Writes debug log information for this vendor daemon to the specified file.

Note that this affects output from only the vendor daemon associated with this options file. The debug log output of lmadmin or lmgrd and any other vendor daemons in the same license file is not captured in this file.

Click the ‘Save’ button in order to save the edited configuration.

FEATURE SETTINGS

On the EasyAdmin web application window click ‘Start’ →  ‘Option Files’ → ‘Features’.

The “Features of Option File” window opens, according to the option file selected before. This window enables the configuration of each feature separately, applying changes either globally or to specific Users, User groups, Hosts, Host groups and IPs.

1. Select a feature. The ‘Permission’ column is filled

2. Select a user (shown in the screenshot below):

2a. Select the Users tab

2b. Click the ‘Add’ icon. The “Users search” window appears.

2c. Mark users from the “Users search” window, and click the ‘Select’ icon. The selected users are added

3. Select a specific permission, and set its value as explained here:

BORROW_LOWWATER:

Sets the minimal number of BORROW licenses that cannot be borrowed, i.e: the minimal number of licenses that need to remain as Network licenses. For example, if FEATURE has a count of 10, borrowing is enabled in the application, and BORROW_LOWWATER = 7 then only 3 licenses may be borrowed. This option is used for licenses held in license files.

LINGER:

A lingering license stays checked out for a specified period of time beyond its checkin or FlexEnabled application exit, whichever comes first. This configuration enables users to extend the linger time for a feature beyond its check in.

Note:

  • The software publisher sets a minimum linger value. If a value smaller than the minimum is configured, the minimum value is used.

  • The linger time may be configured by the software publisher in the FlexEnabled application. When this is the case, the longer linger time is applied.

MAX_BORROW_HOURS:

Change the maximum borrow period for a specific feature. The new configured period value must be less than that in the license file. This option is used for licenses held in license files.

MAX_OVERDRAFT:

The overdraft policy allows a software publisher to specify a number of additional licenses which users are allowed to use, in addition to the licenses they have purchased. This allows your users to not be denied service when in a “temporary overdraft” state. The MAX_OVERDRAFT parameter Limits the overdraft usage to less than the amount specified in the license file.

TIMEOUT:

Specify the idle timeout for a feature, after which an inactive license is reclaimed. The software publisher sets a minimum value. If a smaller value is set – it is ignored, and the publisher’s minimum value is used.

SETTING PERMISSIONS ON SPECIFIC FEATURES

Some Option permissions may be applied according to the following categories: Users, Groups, Hosts, Host Groups and IPs as shown below.

These configurations include

  • Reserved: Reserve licenses for a User / User group / Host / Host group of users/hosts.

  • Included: Allow a user to use a feature.

  • Excluded: Deny a user access to a feature.

  • Borrow Included: Allow a user to borrow licenses.

  • Borrow Excluded: Deny a user the ability to borrow licenses.

  • Max: Limit usage for a particular feature/group—prioritizes usage among users.

ALLOW OR DENY THE ENTIRE VENDOR’S FEATURE SET

It is possible to Allow or Deny a category of users (user\group\host\host group\IP) the entire set of features that a specific vendor daemon serves. In order to do that:

  1. On the EasyAdmin web application window click ‘Start’ →  ‘Option Files’ → “All Features”.  The “All Features …” window appears.

1. Add a Category of users (User \ Group \ Host \ Host Groups \ IP)

2. Check the “Include All” or “Exclude All” radio button;

  • Include All: Allow a user to use all features served by this vendor daemon.

  • Exclude All: Deny a user access to all features served by this vendor daemon.

3.Click ‘Save’.

SAVING THE OPTION FILE ON THE LICENSE SERVER

Saving the changes made to the Option file back to the License Server is done as follows:

1. On the EasyAdmin web application window click “Start” → “Opt. File Admin.”

2. Select the specific Option File, and click “Set”.

3. Select “Save back to server”.

The Option file update mechanism

  • The OpenLM Server writes this request to a table on OpenLM db and waits.

  • Every 10-15 seconds the OpenLM Server checks that table for any new messages for sending to the OpenLM Broker.

  • If such messages are available, the OpenLM Server sends the option file back to the broker.

  • The OpenLM Broker receives the new option file. It creates a copy of the old option file and replaces it with the new one.

  • After that, the broker issues a re-read command to the license manager. If the re-read was successful, the process is complete.

This procedure refers to user permissions. The same permissions are applicable to Groups( a groups of users ), Hosts, Host Groups (defines a group of hosts) and IPs.

 

Appendix A: Users and Groups

There are two methods of introducing new users and user groups to the OpenLM system. One is through the EasyAdmin web application, and the other is by synchronizing with a company’s Active directory. Both these methods are elaborated below.

SYNCHRONIZING USERS AND USER GROUPS WITH AN ACTIVE DIRECTORY (AD)

The best way to add users and groups is to synchronize them with the AD. OpenLM supports such synchronization:

1. Open “OpenLM Server Configuration” (Start →  Programs → OpenLM →  OpenLM server configuration )

2. Select the “Active Directory” tab.

3. Enter The following information in order to connect to the AD and synchronize users:

3a. Domain name: The Active Directory domain name is the full Domain Name System (DNS) name of the domain.

3b. Active directory user name and password, in the respective fields.

4. From the LDAP Server drop-down menu select “ActiveDirectory”.

5. Check the “Synchronize users” checkbox.

Another method for adding users and groups makes use of the EasyAdmin “Users & Permissions” menu:

INTRODUCING A NEW USER

On The EasyAdmin window, Click Start → Users&permissions → Users. The User details window appears.

Insert the required data, Check the ‘Enabled’ box,  and click the ‘Save’ button.

INTRODUCING A NEW USER GROUP

  • In The EasyAdmin web application, Click “Start” → “Users & Permissions” → “Groups”. The Groups window appears.

  • Click the green “Add Group” icon in order to create a new group. Enter the new group name (e.g.: my_new_group), and click “OK”.

 

  • On the “Groups” window, select the newly created group (e.g.: my_new_group), and click the “Members” icon to add new members to the group. The “Users in my_new_group” window appears.

  • Click the green ‘Add’ button. The “Users search” window appears. Mark and select users from the “Users search” window to add to my_new_group.

Appendix B: Adding an IP

What is an IP?

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: Host or Network interface identification and location addressing.

Controlling the license usage of a specific computer is made possible by the “IPs” tab on the “Features of Option File” window. It is also possible to control the license usage of an IP range of computers. For example, typing in the IP:  123.123.123.* causes the feature configurations done in the “Features of Option File” window to be implemented on all user IPs in the range of 123.123.123.0 through 123.123.123.255.


Adding a specific IP:

1. On the EasyAdmin web application window click ‘Start’ →  ‘Option Files’ → ‘IPs’

2. Click The green “Add” button. “Add Ip” window will pop.

3. In the text box enter the Ip address you want to add.

Add a range of IPs

1. On the EasyAdmin web application window click ‘Start’ →  ‘Option Files’ → ‘IPs’

2. Click The green “Add” button. “Add Ip” window will pop.

3. In the text box enter the Ip range you want to add (as explained above).

 

Appendix C: Adding a Host Group

About Host Groups

Custom groups of virtual machine hosts may also be created, for grouping of hosts and their virtual machines in meaningful ways. For example, you may create a host group for every branch office in your organization. You can also use host groups to set aside resources on hosts in the host group for the use of the host operating system.

1. On the EasyAdmin web application window click “Start” →  “Option Files” → “Host Groups”. The “Host Groups” window appears.

2. Click the green ‘+’ sign, and add a group (e.g.: my_host_group1).

3. Select the newly added group, and click the “Members” icon. The “Memebers of my_host_group1” window opens (see image).

4. Select the computers that are required for grouping, and click the green “Select” button. The new Host group is ready for use.

Revision

Revision 1.3 (Revised)

Authors: Mira, Orik, Chen

May 20, 2013.

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Problem/Error with AutoCAD network license management: “A valid license could not be obtained by the network license manager”

Details:

You can face above problem frequently on AutoCAD 2007 based products when you are working in an organization where:

  • Concurrent licensing scheme is implemented through server/client networking mode.
  • Network bandwidth is low.
  • Network latency is high or connected through VPN.

All of the products based on AutoCAD 2007 contain licensing enhancements which tend to increase network latency and bandwidth utilization of the network. Therefore, you can face this problem while trying to claim the license of the program from the License Manager Server. Earlier versions of AutoCAD products i.e. older than 2007 release were not observing this problem. In this problem, first you are presented with a FLEXlm license finder dialogue box during license obtaining process followed by a message stating:

“A valid license could not be obtained by the network license manager.

Error [1.5. -15]”

In some other products you can receive a bit different message as given below:

“A valid license could not be obtained by the network license manager.

Error [1.5. -18]”

Reasons for Error:

A network throughput or data rate of the link is the main reason for this error especially in case of heavy applications like AutoCAD 2007. Reasons can be summarized as below:

  • Low Bandwidth of the connection i.e. Dial-up connection or low speed ISDN/DSL connection.
  • High Network Latency i.e. VPN
  • Response waiting time of the application/program

One or more of the above reasons can be the root cause of this problem. This problem has recommended solutions which given below.

Solutions:

  • Recommended solution for this problem is either increase in the bandwidth of the connection or decrease in the network latency or enhancement in both parameters.
  • By modification of the response waiting time counter/value which is used as the last resort for the solution of this problem. This is a stepwise procedure to modify the response waiting time counter. Here is the stepwise procedure for the same:
  1. Right click My Computer and choose properties.
  2. On system property dialogue box choose advanced tab.
  3. Click on the environment Variables
  4. On environment variable dialogue box choose system variables field and hit the new button
  5. A new system variable dialogue box with two fields appears; put “FLEXLM_TIMEOUT” in variable name and put 1000000 in variable value field.
  6. Click OK on all three dialogue boxes to close them
  7. Launch the AutoCAD application

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the problem persists, increase the variable value in multiples of 1000000 micro seconds and reach to the value which gives you satisfactory communication results.

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