Duplicate Entries in the FLEXlm debug log

We recently received reports about duplicate user sessions reported by OpenLM. For example, in the Maptek software that uses FLEXlm (FlexNet Publisher) software for licensing.

Checking the FLEXlm debug log file we have found that the duplicate entries are created by the MAPTEK vendor.

6:15:30 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:32 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:35 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:37 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:39 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:16:40 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
8:03:04 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
8:17:28 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s

The user only started one session of the software but at the last four entries we clearly see that the MAPTEK vendor daemon reported two overlapping sessions.

This information is included in OpenLM reports only when OpenLM Broker software is installed on the FLEXlm license server. OpenLM Broker software is designed to read the license manager debug log files and to push the information to OpenLM Server.

OpenLM Team is planning to include a solution to duplicate usage records in the near future.

FLEXlm License Usage Billing – Its Implementation in OpenLM Version 1.5.5

The implementation of the usage billing policy in many organizations has proved to be a very profitable step. This article discusses the concept of FLEXlm billing and the usage of OpenLM Software in order to implement such a policy.

Many organizations use software systems that are licensed by Floating (concurrent) licenses. This type of license facilitates the organization to install an unlimited number of seats of the software. The number of licenses used concurrently are limited to a predefined number (i.e. set during the purchase). Many of the software systems licensed this way, use Flexera FLEXnet Publisher (commonly known as FLEXlm software). This type of licensing method is commonly used by software vendors that produce high-end software systems.

In many cases, such projects are initiated as a part of a License Server Consolidation project. In order to explain the project, let us use an imaginary company “Green Energy Ltd.” from the USA that has 3 subsidiaries worldwide: UK, Australia, and Japan. Each subsidiary manages several license servers with different software systems. Let us assume the following software inventory:

Software
USA
UK
Australia
Japan
ESRI ArcGIS
55 34 46 21
Autodesk Autocad
56 26 15 21
PTC
24 24 12 31
Solidworks
35 11 36 41

The usage diagrams produced from OpenLM EasyAdmin show that utilization of some of the licenses is high, while other licenses are practically not in use, depending on the time and location.

This chart demonstrates usage of ESRI ArcGIS licenses in USA alone:

The first step the company took was to consolidate all the licenses so that a single license server will serve all users worldwide. This table shows the license availability worldwide after the consolidation:

Software
Total Licenses
ESRI ArcGIS
156
Autodesk Autocad
118
PTC
91
Solidworks
123

After the consolidation, the company checked the usage level of their licenses and found that the utilization is more balanced. But, some software systems are heavily used while others have a very low usage rate.

Thus, the licenses were better utilized when the company adopting the following two steps:

  • Utilizing the consolidated license server now allows users to use the same licenses over the 24-hour period.
  • The creation of a bigger pool of licenses provides a higher license availability.

Based on the usage reports, the company decided to purchase more licenses for some of the software systems, while cutting down the maintenance fee for other licenses that are under utilized.

The managers of some of the subsidiaries have complained that they pay for licenses they don’t use; the reason for which is that the maintenance costs are evenly distributed between the subsidiaries. In order to solve the problem, the company decided to implement a billing policy based on the actual usage of licenses by each subsidiary. The “Groups and Projects” extension to OpenLM System provides this solution. The company has created a Group for each subsidiary using the OpenLM Users Management software.

In order to avoid the need to manually relate users to the Groups, the system manager decided to utilize OpenLM’s ability to synchronize Active Directory users and groups with OpenLM Server database. Since the organizational belonging of each user is based on the structure of the organizational tree in AD, the manager chose the OU’s option and set the system to constantly synchronize the information with AD. This way, each new user will automatically be related to the correct subsidiary. OpenLM automatically updates the user’s belonging to a subsidiary, according to any change in the position.
Thus, the information now looks the same both in AD and in OpenLM Users Management interface.

After a month, the team was able to produce a usage report according to the different groups, thus easily producing a fair billing report for each group.

The UK subsidiary has decided to further enhance the accuracy of their project’s pricing. By implementing a project usage policy, they have measured their license usage of each project. They have created all their projects using OpenLM Users Management application, and have assigned each user to one or more projects. Users that were assigned to only one project did not have to report the active project. Users that belonged to more than one project, report the active project using the capabilities of OpenLM Agent software.

The information collected this way allowed Green Energy UK to price their projects better, taking the cost of expensive software usage into account.

This example provided an insight to the basics of Floating License Billing that can be implemented by OpenLM system. We can see that the capabilities of OpenLM actually enabled the server consolidation project, and also provided all the information needed for billing.

The highlights of OpenLM functionalities demonstrated in this article are:

  • OpenLM’s ability to monitor the usage level of the organizational resources.
  • OpenLM’s ability to synchronize OpenLM information with Active Directory in order to avoid manual work and to ensure data accuracy.
  • OpenLM’s ability to easily provide usage information for different groups of users.
  • OpenLM’s ability to track the usage of licenses for specific projects.

Conclusion

OpenLM Software provides all the needed tools for the implementation of a usage billing system in organization using license managers like FLEXlm (FLEXnet). IT Managers are now able to easily implement a usage billing system that can lower operational cost while improving license availability and reducing administration costs.

We have to emphasize that this is not a real world example. In reality, there are many other problems that were not taken into consideration here, for example, network limitations and many other factors.

Workstations tab in EasyAdmin2 (Version 1.5.5)

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

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

A short description of each column:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OpenLM EasyAdmin Remove button functionality

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

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

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

Where OpenLM stores its information

Usage information

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

Configuration Information

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

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