Taking the Pain out of Flexlm License Allocation

One of the key administrative tasks when it comes to software license management is controlling the allocation of licenses for each user. This is especially complex when it comes to engineering and scientific software, where that user may require 30 or 40 specialized and costly applications to perform his job to the standard required. We have had an increase in requests from customers of Flexera FlexNet Manager (and a few other license manager tools) for a product that makes license allocation easier for them. The main problem is that the file where allocations are set up, which is the “options” file in FlexNet, does not link to the company’s organizational directory, such as Microsoft’s Active Directory.

OpenLM’s license manager software does link to the organization’s directory as a matter of course. This means that any change to the organizational directory is synchronised through to the allocations table in OpenLM. This cuts down a load of manual work managing two separate allocation views and also reduces the possibility of error. The users of Flexera license management products are aware of OpenLM’s capability in this area, but have invested much time and money in getting FlexNet tailored for their organization, so are reluctant to change vendors at this stage, but are looking for something to ease the “Options” file pain. We are glad to announce that we now have a solution.

OpenLM License Allocation Manager

The OpenLM License Allocation Manager (or LAM) is a software product dedicated to the management of license allocation. This new release is limited to allocation for Flexera licenses, but imminent releases will cater for other license management software. It can be bought as a stand-alone product that does not impact any existing license management software installation. The software integrates with the organizational directory and the license administrator no longer has to cope with updating the text file for license allocation used by FlexNet.

While many of our customers are happy just to have this directory link enabled, there is much, much more that gives precise control over license control. Parameters are included to allow customization of allocation for:-

  • Allocation and access by user group, for example a specific project team.
  • Geolocation, where access is managed based on the user’s location.
  • Time of use. This parameter helps in managing peak demand and can be combined with location and/or group.
  • Software version. Where multiple instances of a software package are used, a user or user group may be permitted to or prohibited from using a specific version.
  • Workbench management. Where a portmanteau license has been acquired, such as AutoDesk’s bundled offerings, the user can be limited to using only some of the products.
  • Feature limitation. Especially with token licensing, specific features may carry an extra cost or be in scarce supply. Allocation can be tailored to permit or limit access to a feature within an application.

License Allocation Manager OpenLM

We have not exhausted the possibilities that our new LAM software offers. If you believe that this product could help you solve your current license allocation problems, why don’t you contact OpenLM to find out more and try the software for your own environment?

Time of day: Some licenses entitle users a “follow the sun” policy, granting licenses on different time zones according to the time of day. Server availability: Some license management systems provide a multiple server redundancy scheme to ensure license availability in case of hardware or network failure. Changes in infrastructure: Migrating a license manager from one server to another may require changes in configuration of end user workstations Dynamic users: Users join and leave the organization, and migrate among groups and projects. User prioritization: Ranking of users in the hierarchy of license priority and application license level may change over time. Project priorities shift: The allocation plan should reflect the priorities dictated for each project. These priorities are also dynamic by nature.

For more information about OpenLM products and their capabilities, please visit our website.

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License borrowing in FlexNet (FlexLM) and Offline Concurrent licenses in IBM-LUM and DSLS

General

License Borrowing is a method of linking a specific workstation to a single license instance from within the license pool. This procedure marks a license as being perpetually used on the license manager (LM), enables users to borrow a product license for a designated time period, and to operate the licensed application without connecting to the license manager.
OpenLM monitors borrowing of licenses on several LM types. This document presents the borrowing methods on three of these LMs: FlexNet (FlexLM), IBM-LUM and DSLS, and the OpenLM advantages in monitoring borrowed licenses.

Borrowing licenses in FlexLM

In order to enable license borrowing, the software publisher should issue a floating license file with a FEATURE or INCREMENT line that contains the BORROW keyword, for example:
INCREMENT 3d_to_2d_flattener ugslmd 27.0 06-nov-2012 1 SUPERSEDE \
DUP_GROUP=UHD user_info=”NX 2D Exchange” ISSUED=06-sep-2012 \
BORROW=2880 ck=194 SIGN=”code”
In the example above, the BORROW time was restricted tp 2880 hours = 120 days. The maximal value for borrowing licenses in FlexLM is 180 days.

A user specifies the expiration date a borrowed license is to be returned, which should be equal to or smaller than the BORROW parameter above. This expiration date is set by applying a value to the LM_BORROW environment variable. This is done either directly, or by running the lmborrow utility, or by setting it in the application (when available).

The user then runs the application while connected to the network which writes borrowing information on the client computer. The license server keeps the borrowed license checked out. If enabled by the software publisher, borrowed licenses can be returned early, prior to the borrow period expiration.

When the expiration period has elapsed, or after having returned the borrowed license early, the local borrowing data no longer authorizes the license checkout, and the license server returns the borrowed license to the pool of available licenses.

More information on Borrowing Flexnet licenses can be found here.

DSLS Offline licenses

In DSLS, Borrowed licenses are referred to as “offline licenses”. The operation of extracting licenses for offline usage is done by the Application’s “Offline Management” tab on the “Local License Management” dialog box. There, a user needs to select a license for extraction and set the duration period for offline extraction. Maximal license offline extraction is 30 days.
When querying the usage of licenses with the DSLicSrv command’s getLicenseUsage -all ,  Offline licenses should be reported similarly to the following example:
internal Id: <Workstation> …
granted since: <Time and date> <workstation> <Username> <Application full path> …
targetId: <targetId> licenseId: <licenseId> …
granted since: <Time and date> hold until: <Time and date>

IBM LUM Offline licenses

The IBM License Use Management (LUM) system also refers to borrowed licenses as “Concurrent Offline Licenses”. In order to implement license borrowing in LUM:
1. The user calls the application.
2. The application looks for an offline-nodelocked license in its nodelock directory.
If a license is found and is valid, the application runs.
3. If the application does not find a license in the nodelock directory and the
portable computer can reach a License Use Management network license server,
the application requests a concurrent-offline license from it.
4. The network license server checks if the license has an authorization for the
user, group, or for the target ID of the machine, and validates the password
provided by the user.
5. If the authorization is for a concurrent-offline license, the server creates an
offline-nodelocked license and copies it to the nodelock directory of the
portable computer. The license is marked as in use on the server.
6. The application checks that the nodelock directory contains a valid license and
the application starts. The application can now run without a connection to the
License Use Management network license server (that is, the application can
run on a portable computer).

Management of offline concurrent licenses is done in the IBM LUM windows UI:

  • The product authorization must be set to “All Allowed” to enable concurrent offline usage
  • The license offline extraction time is set. It is limited to 120 days.
  • A password is set for the license instance.

Similar options are available by the lumblt command line.
Further information on IBM LUM concurrent offline licenses is found here.

The OpenLM advantage

Borrowing a license is typically not the preferable method for license deployment. It is both expensive and hard to track:

  • As borrowed licenses are floating licenses that have been put to work perpetually, they can not be subject for license chargeback, and are more expensive than other concurrent license on the license pool.
  • Borrowed licenses are also hard to keep track of. They are no longer marked as part of the license pool. License administrators need to manually revoke such licenses as soon as they are not needed.

OpenLM monitors the usage of license managers, providing insight regarding users’ identity and the efficient license allocation. It thus presents several advantages for such license administrators:

  • Identify users who draw both borrowed and concurrent license from two different workstations, and alert upon such conditions.
  • Mark specific used licenses as borrowed, clearly presenting the user and workstation it is linked to.
  • Identify usage patterns, and advise an optimized license allocation policy.

 

Note: Please contact support at openlm.com for a list of supported license managers’ borrowed license monitoring.

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