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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Software Asset Management tools vs. the main causes for license compliance drift

The BSA (Business Software alliance) organization runs a cool widget on their site – They call it the Global Software Piracy Study for 2011. It shows the globe divided to political territories. The user can select a country and see the rate of software piracy resident in that country. I admit I find it rather amusing to bet the piracy rate per territory, but apparently BSA officers don’t see the funny side in it. This is the drive for stepping up software license audits.

 As software auditing is becoming ubiquitous, organizations around the world turn to Software Asset Management (SAM) tools to help them come through what some IT members would consider a nightmare.

Strict abiding to license agreements may not be sufficient when it comes to keeping track of software license compliance; As licensing options become increasingly complex, the average honest license administrator may inadvertently slip out of compliance.

Reasons for such a slip are numerous, and can be attributed to :

Structural changes in the organization:

  • Unification and splitting of license pools.
  • Shift of responsibility for license compliance and inventory keeping between IT personnel.
  • Migration to other license servers.

 

Unclear restrictions imposed by the license agreement

  • Change between different license versions.
  • What was right for the previous version may not be OK for the current one.
  • Restrictions that were signed upon in an antecedent licensing agreement.

 

The human factor

  • Inexperienced IT personnel.
  • Unclear notion of the license inventory.
  • End users malcompliance with the organization’s software regulations.

 

These types of triggers for software compliance glitches are addressed by software license monitoring tools such as OpenLM:

  • OpenLM was designed to absorb drifts in license compliance caused by structural changes in the organization. It can interfaces multiple license managers over WAN or LAN, and assign license usage constraints according to licensing policies.

  • OpenLM provides clear accounts of license availability thus eliminating errors that stem from lack of “How many of these do we actually have” and

  • Lifting mundane tasks off the shoulders of license managers and system administrators, thus mitigating the effect of human error.

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Application Note 1035: Configuring OpenLM v1.7 to interface the EasyCopy License Manager

OpenLM supports the monitoring of a wide variety of license managers such as Flexera FlexLM (Flexnet), Beta LM, IBM LUM, DSLS, Sentinel HASP, Sentinel RMS, Reprise RLM, and LM-X.

This application note elaborates the steps required to configure OpenLM to interface the EasyCopy License Manager, and obtain reliable license reports and usage statistics. This capability is available for Easycopy versions 8.7.12 onward.

OpenLM Server configuration

In order to configure OpenLM to monitor an EasyCopy License Manager, The OpenLM Server must be configured as follows:

  • Click the ‘Add’ button.
  • Set the LM Type to ‘Other’
  • Set the License server’s Time zone (e.g.: Central Time)
  • Type in the Hostname (e.g. easycopy_lm) or IP of the EasyCopy License server.
  • The port number is insignificant here. Type in any number (e.g.: 123). Note that the same number will need to be used in the OpenLM Broker configuration as well (see below).
  • Click the ‘Apply’ and “Restart now” buttons.

OpenLM Broker Configuration

After setting the OpenLM server, the Broker needs to be configured as follows:

  • Please refer to the Application Note 1004: OpenLM Broker quick start guide document for general Broker configuration. In the example below – the OpenLM server hostname was set as openlm_server, the OpenLM Broker port was maintained at its default 7016.
  • The license server characteristics are set exactly as they were on the OpenLM Server configuration tool: The type is set to ‘Other’, the name to easycopy_lm, and the port to 123.
  • Type in the EasyCopy command line in the Broker’s “data_inquiry” command text box. The command is “eclic openlm” and it needs to be run from the location of the eclic.exe path.
  • Click the ‘Apply’ and “Restart Broker” buttons.
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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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Troubleshoot Form: OpenLM Server Item 003 (Unable to connect to FLEXlm license server error: -96,7:11004 “Comm. error”)

Title Unable to connect to FLEXlm license server
Category OpenLM Configuration Form
Date Oct 24, 2012
Handled by
Relevant Links
Applies to license managers FLEXlm, FLEXera FLEXnet,
Applies to license model Floating licenses, Network licenses, Concurrent licenses
Symptoms No activity reported on EasyAdmin for a specific FlexLM license server
Observed during investigation Clicking the “Check” button for one of the FlexLM license servers on the OpenLM Configuration Form resulted in an error
Trouble shoot process Check License server connectivity configuration.
Solution Found (Found/Pending/Known Issue)
Other steps for troubleshooting

Symptom

The customer complained that he “Couldn’t connect to the FLEXlm license server”. Attempting to connect to the license server resulted in the following message box appearing on his screen:

lmgrd is not running: License server machine is down or not responding. (-96,7:11004 “Comm. error”)

Troubleshoot process

1. Make sure the license manager machine is up and that you could check out licenses from it.

2. Make sure that the hostname , Port number, License Manager type and timezone are configured correctly in the OpenLM server configuration tool. Also, please review this Troubleshoot guide.

3. Check the connectivity between the OpenLM server machine and the license server (using ping or telnet).

4.  Make sure that any security components (Firewall) are not blocking communication on both ends. The OpenLM server uses ports 7012, 7014, 7016, 7017 and 7019. The OpenLM server’s communication with the License server relies on port 7014.

Make sure that the port is open:

 

  • Try disabling the firewall temporarily.
  • Enter “Control Panel”→“System and Security”→“Windows Firewall”→ Advanced settings”.
  • If the port isn’t defined under the “‘Inbound Rules” open the port by adding a New Rule using the “New Rule” button located on the lower right side of the screen as depicted below:

5. The OpenLM Broker may bypass such communication issues. Install the OpenLM Broker on the license server machine. See this application note for more information: Application Note 1004: OpenLM Broker quick start guide

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IBM LUM i4blt command reference

Scope:

Even though the IBM LUM license monitoring tool has decreased in popularity over the passed several years, it is still a widely spread tool for monitoring and tracking license usage of many CAD applications.

The OpenLM license monitoring tool extracts information from a variety of license managers, such as Flexnet / FlexLM, DSLS, Sentinel HASP, Sentinel RMS, Reprise RLM, and – of course IBM LUM. OpenLM extracts comprehensive license reports and obtains license statistics for all these lisence managers.

In order to interface the IBM LUM license manager, OpenLM employs the i4blt command.
The i4blt command is very versatile; its usage depends on the attached i4blt flag options. The following document is a reference to some of these flags.

Syntax:

There are several syntax rules to be met:
1. Named strings containing spaces must be presented within single quotation marks.
2. Names are case sensitive
3. Listed values must be presented within double quotation marks, e.g.:
i4blt -lp -n my_server -v “‘Vend A’ ‘Vend B'”
4. Parameters that appear within options are position specific, e.g.: vendor information in the i4blt -E (Enrollment) option include vendor_name, vendor_id, and vendor_password.

Command reference

The following diagram is a reference to some of the main i4blt options. The Yellow rectangle is a complete reference to the primary i4blt command options. the turquoise rectangles contain elaboration for some of these primary options.

Usage examples:

The following are usage examples of the i4blt command. The examples are taken from real workstations, and include genuine usage information. They were cleared of any user identification markings.

i4blt -s -lc

In order to obtain current license usage information, OpenLM employs the i4blt -s -lc option.

i4blt -ln

The list display option with the ‘n’ flag lists the servers which are monitored by the IBM LUM.

i4blt -r1 -e

The r1 report type enables the extraction of  further information. This example shows license related event logging, in this case: license release.

Forward reading

I have found the following links helpful:
From the University of Alberta

A bit about HAL (High – Availability licensing) : i4blt -H.

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Application Note 1001_b: Configuring OpenLM to interface the Sentinel RMS license manager

Scope:

OpenLM supports the monitoring of a wide variety of license managers such as Flexera FlexLM ( Flexnet ), Beta LM, IBM LUM, DSLS, Sentinel HASP, Sentinel RMS, RLM, and LM-X. This application note elaborates the steps required to configure OpenLM to interface the Sentinel RMS License Manager, and obtain reliable license reports and usage statistics.

Enabling the OpenLM server to work with RMS

In order to configure OpenLM to work with  Sentinel RMS, please follow this procedure:
1. Download lsmon.exe and lsapiw32.dll . These files aren’t included in the OpenLM installation package. For information on how to obtain these files, please contact OpenLM on support@openlm.com.
2. Copy these files to “C:\Program Files\OpenLM\OpenLM Server\LM”
3. Enter the OpenLM Server Configuration Form. Select the LM Tools tab → RMS.
4. Type in the full path of the executable file, i.e.:  “C:\Program Files\OpenLM\OpenLM Server\LM\lsmon.exe” in the “RMS executable file” text box.

See the following image for further clarification:

Introducing a new Sentinel RMS server

After configuring the OpenLM configuration tool to work with Sentinel RMS as elaborated above, the user may introduce an new  Sentinel RMS server under the License Servers tab:
1. Select the “License Servers” tab.
2. Select the RMS type from the “Type” dropdown list.
3. Type in a meaningful description in the “Description” text box.
4. Type in the appropriate “Hostname” and “Port” numbers. The Sentinel RMS default port is 5093.
5. Check the “Enabled” check box.
6. Click the “Apply” button. The  Sentinel RMS server is now ready to interface the OpenLM.

OpenLM Broker configuration for RMS

The OpenLM Broker is an optional though highly recommended component, that should be installed and configured on the RMS license manager machine. It provides accurate license statistics, and facilitates communication between the OpenLM Server and the License manager.

First, download and install the latest OpenLM Broker version. Follow the installation and configuration instructions on the OpenLM Broker configuration Application Note.

In the License server port dialog, select the RMS license manager type from the ‘Type’ dropdown list.
In the port’s Commands list make sure the ‘status’ command is
lsmon <License Server Name>

Document Revision Table

Version Author Date Changes
0.1 Orik May1, 2012 Preliminary
1.0 Orik Jun3, 2012 Revised.
1.1 Orik Jun6, 2012 Added Broker

 

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OpenLM Hotfix: Broker version 1.7.2.0 for IBM-LUM and LM-X license managers

The OpenLM Broker version 1.7.20 is a Hotfix version, dedicated for the solution of an issue that was raised by a customer.

Issue description:

The IBM LUM license manager was not configured correctly on the Broker configuration interface, when Java JRE 1.7 was installed on the PC. It was configured correctly for JRE 1.6.

OpenLM recommends to download and install version 1.7.20 of the OpenLM Broker on IBM LUM and LM-X license servers that run JRE 1.7.

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Setting FlexLM port numbers statically

Flexnet / FlexLM ports numbers may be set statically by declarations made in the FlexLM license file. When remain undeclared, these ports would be set randomly every time the license manager is started.

1. In order to set the port connecting the license manager with the installed applications:

On the server side, on the license file (<license>.lic), add a port number to the end of the SERVER line, e.g.:

SERVER <ServerName> <HostId> <PortNumber>

On the client side, on the <license>.dat file add the same number to the end of the SERVER line, e.g.:

SERVER <ServerName> ANY <PortNumber>

2. In order to set the license manager to interface the Vendor over a predefined static port number, add this number in the end of the VENDOR line, in the license file on the license server machine, e.g.:

VENDOR <VendorName> PORT=<VendorPortNumber>

In order for these changes to take affect, you would need to reread the license file. You may do that by clicking the “Reread License file” button, under the “Start/Stop/Reread” tab in Flexera’s LMTOOLS application.

The OpenLM license monitoring tool interfaces these ports in order to extract license statistics, and reliable license usage reports.

For any further information about license management, please visit the new OpenLM site, or address us directly on support@openlm.com.

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ESRI ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 4

ESRI has announced the release of ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 4. The new service pack is now available for download from ESRI’s patches and Service Packs download site. Download and installation of the new service pack is straightforward, and the software update runs seamlessly.

As far as OpenLM is concerned, Service Pack 4 does not incorporate fixes to the ArcGIS License Manager. Hence, transition to the new Service Pack should be transparent to OpenLM as a monitoring tool of floating licenses.

Please note that previous Service packs have included fixes to the ArcGIS License Manager. Here is a full list of the issues that were addressed and solved in ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 4, as well as in previous Service Packs.

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