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RLM Version 9 is Released

Reprise Software is pleased to announce that RLM v9 was officially released on Thursday Dec. 16th, 2010.

RLM v9 contains several significant product improvements. Some highlights:

  • includes an interactive, graphical license generator.
  • allows you to set up an internal license server farm to deploy your applications in the cloud.
  • has a license checkout debugging capability.

Of course, RLM v9 contains much more.  Please contact Reprise Software for more details.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

GeoStation Corporation Selects Reprise License Manager (RLM)

Summary: Geostation Corporation selected the Reprise License Manager (RLM) based on its complementary design, functionality, ease-of-use and value characteristics. RLM helps Geostation customers optimize their usage of licenses.

Geostation Corporation, a trusted provider of geographical information systems (GIS) to the upstream petroleum industry, announced today that it has selected Reprise Software, Inc.’s ‘RLM’ as the multi-user, networked environment, License Management System of choice, and that GeoStation 5.2 and future releases of GeoStation will ship with RLM.

Commenting on the selection and process, Bruce Keffer, GeoStation Corporation President, said, “We selected RLM for GeoStation® for reasons of fit, functionality, reputation and value.” Bruce added, “Our focus has always been on design, functionality, ease-of-use and value, and our feeling is RLM perfectly compliments the philosophy.”

RLM tracks and provides GeoStation user community administrators with valuable user and usage metrics, which in turn facilitate the management of application availability and optimal sizing of shared GeoStation license pools.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

RLM ISV Settings File – Easier Server Upgrades

Summary: The RLM settings files provides a convenient method of upgrading license servers in the field. The settings file consists of the ISV-specific information in the RLM license server making it easier to upgrade your customers. Read on about the example use cases and benefits of using RLM ISV settings files.

The Basics

The server side of RLM consists of two programs: the rlm server and the ISV server.  The rlm server (rlm[.exe]) is generic – in other words, it contains no executable code that is ISV-specific.  The ISV server, on the other hand is specific to an ISV, as it encapsulates at a minimum, the ISV’s name and its public encryption key.  The ISV server’s file name is <ISVname>[.exe].

Settings Files Introduced

Starting with RLM version 6.0, an alternative to the traditional packaging of the ISV server as an executable file became available.  This alternative is the settings file, a small data file (several hundred bytes) containing the ISV’s unique server settings.  The platform-independent settings file is built automatically during the RLM build process and is encrypted and authenticated.  When a settings file is present at server startup instead of an executable ISV server, the generic rlm server spawns a copy of itself.  The spawned copy reads the settings file and takes on the “personality” of the ISV server – it becomes a 100% functional equivalent of the old-style executable ISV-specific ISV server, but with one caveat. If you use ISV-defined hostids, then the actual ISV server binary program must be used – not the settings file.

The Benefits of Settings Files

As we mentioned above, the settings file externalizes the unique elements of the ISV server executable, making the ISV server completely generic.  Consequently, these generic programs are always available on all supported RLM development platforms.  When a server upgrade is necessary, the ISV can more quickly deploy the generic server than ISV-supplied programs because they don’t have to go through the ISV’s usual development/QA/release cycle.  A couple of additional benefits accrue:

  • Because the settings file is platform-independent, the ISV can support server platforms that they do not have in-house.  The ISV still needs to purchase a license for RLM on non-inhouse platforms, but they do not need to actually have those development platforms. This allows ISVs to support server platforms that are requested by their end users without having to actually build RLM on these platforms.
  • Because by default the ISV’s settings file works with any RLM version after v6, the process of upgrading RLM versions on the server side in the field becomes almost trivial. End users simply download and install the latest generic rlm server version.

Usage Example

As an example of easy server upgrades, consider an end-user site running a v7 rlm server and settings file for ISV “abc”.  They run into a bug (P188), which is a case-sensitivity problem with RLM_PROJECT.  This bug is fixed in RLM v8.0.  Since the fix is implemented entirely on the server side and the server side executable is entirely generic due to use of a settings file, the end user can get the fix simply by downloading and installing rlm[.exe] from www.reprisesoftware.com.  There is no need for the end user to wait for the ISV to adopt RLM v8 – the fix is accessible to the end user the same day as v8 is released.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

Integrating the Reprise License Manager (RLM) with Salesforce.com

Several customers have recently asked us if any software vendors who use RLM for licensing have extended Salesforce.com to handle licensing information.  The answer is yes. One of our customers who uses both RLM and other older licensing technologies has written an integrated web service and activation API that ties into Salesforce.com.

Here’s a quick summary of what one of our customers does:

  • create a new sale in Salesforce.com
  • send download instructions to customer with a unique activation code
  • customer downloads/installs software, enters activation code into the application
  • activation server returns generated license, stored locally
  • generated license also stored in transaction record in Salesforce.com

This RLM ISV has extended Salesforce and created a new License object (or table) which is associated with a Salesforce Account. When they make a license sale they create a new License record in Salesforce and populate it with parameters pertaining to the product license (node locked / floating, count, licensed modules, expiry etc). When this information is saved an “activation code” is generated and saved along with the rest of the licensing options. The activation code is something unique that can identify this record in Salesforce.

Their support desk sends the activation code to the end customer and he/she downloads and installs the application program.  This activation code can then be entered into the application which connects to the ISV’s own internet license activation service. The information submitted includes the activation code along with hardware information, or HostID. The license service is responsible for connecting to Salesforce and generating the RLM license. For transactional purposes they also store this generated license in Salesforce. The license is returned to the application and saved locally on their machine.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

Options and More Options

Using ‘Vendor Defined’ Optional Keywords

Since license policy in RLM is defined largely by license keys, a single binary version of your RLM-based application can support many different license policies. Once RLM is implemented, you can address ever-changing business rules by simply varying the type of license keys that you issue. RLM can support a wide range of licensing options and policies, many of which have been covered in previous articles on this blog under the “technology” heading.

This article briefly discusses a few optional license fields. The following license keywords can be classified as ‘vendor defined’ options as they are not used by RLM to determine policy, but can be accessed by your application to further restrict usage rights or present information to the end-user, such as in a start-up splash screen. These optional fields are factored into the license’s digital signature, so they are not editable by your customers. The fields are described below:

  • Options= if your product has many separately-purchasable sub-features,
    you can list the ones which are licensed in this string. Some examples of how this might used include:  limit the number of database records that can be created or accessed, or the number of accounts that can be open, or the number of ports that can be accessed, etc.? This information can be entered into the ‘options = options_list‘  field and it must be parsed by your application.
  • Contract= can be used to hold the customer’s purchase information or software agreement number. This can be displayed to the end-user to validate a support contract, etc.
  • Issuer= could be used to identify the organization that issued the license, such as a third party distributor, or reseller, etc.
  • Customer= used to identify the name of licensed customer and can be displayed by your application. Displaying this information in an “about box” or splash-screen can be an added deterent to unauthorized use. It is unlikely that Mega South-East Airlines would want to use a license that was issued to Main St. Bank.
  • Type= used to identify the type of license and is a string containing one or more of the values:
    • “beta”
    • “demo”
    • “eval”

For example, type=”beta eval” or type=”eval”. The contents of the license type field are then used by your application to put your software into the appropriate mode of limited operation or usability.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

CMG Licenses the Reprise License Manager (RLM)

Summary: Computer Modelling Group (CMG) switched its license manager to RLM to license two distinct types of products: simulators, and pre and post processing tools. The simulator licensing model is a per-simultaneous-run model, no matter which user or computer is making the run. The other tools are sold on a more traditional per user basis.

More details about CMG’s use of RLM

CMG is a leading provider of reservoir simulation software to the global market. They began as a company known for its expertise in heavy oil, and have expanded this expertise into all aspects of reservoir flow modelling. Over the past 32 years, CMG has remained focused on the development and delivery of reservoir simulation technologies that assist oil and gas companies to determine reservoir capacities and maximize potential recovery.

CMG’s technology is comprised of two very different types of applications that put difficult demands on a licensing system. The first type comprises simulator applications (STARS, GEM, and IMEX), which are Fortran-based batch calculation engines that can run on anything from Windows laptops to high-end Linux clusters. These simulators model very complex oil and gas reservoirs and CMG is continually improving runtime performance by porting to different platforms and chips. The licensing model is a per-simultaneous-run model, no matter which user or computer is making the run. In addition, customers can license different optional capabilities in each of the simulators and the number of licenses consumed for a run can vary depending on the situation.

The second type of application that CMG provides is the pre- and post-processing tools run on Windows platforms. These applications are licensed on a more-traditional per-user basis.

Transitioning their products to Reprise from their previous licensing technology was relatively painless. The development model fit CMG’s commercial model very well, and the Reprise libraries were intuitive and easy to use. In addition to replacing the previous licensing technology with Reprise in their next major release, they were able to retrofit Reprise into older versions for customers that were not yet ready to upgrade.

Because their customers need maximum performance from CMG’s software, they occasionally need to port their technology to new platforms and chips. This means that the licensing technology needs to be ported as well, and Reprise has proven to be very responsive to those needs. Since selecting Reprise, CMG added two new platforms not initially in Reprise’s suite, and Reprise was able to provide their technology on these platforms in short order.

Although the Reprise technology works well “out of the box”, not every customer environment is the same and occasionally CMG needs assistance. Reprise has proven to be very responsive in helping to troubleshoot problems, and this helps CMG keep its customers up and running. CMG says that they probably make greater use of Reprise’s support than they did with their previous licensing vendor, but that is because with the previous vendor they just stopped asking for help.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

RLM v9 Addresses Opportunities in “The Cloud”

The Reprise License Manager (RLM) v9 addresses licensing challenges and opportunities presented in the cloud.

Earlier we wrote a short article about this topic, http://www.reprisesoftware.com/blog/2010/01/are-you-ready-for-cloud-computing/ asking “Are you ready for the Cloud?”  RLM v9 now incorporates features to help software vendors exploit these new opportunities.

The biggest industry players are driving the cloud movement. Platform vendors such as Amazon.com, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com are leveraging their enormous investments in computing hardware and advanced virtualization software to build on-demand computing infrastructures. Corporate users, tired of paying to maintain in-house iron, are increasingly looking to reduce costs with cloud computing, while at the same time simplifying procurement, decreasing acquisition time, and adding unprecedented throughput potential.

Users can obtain “hardware on the fly” to run any operating system on arbitrarily large servers – “in the cloud.” These virtual systems may persist indefinitely or disappear when no longer needed.  The software on them may be used for only a short burst of time – just enough to get the job done – measured in days or even hours.  Likewise, paying for “cloud-time” is easy, often paying with nothing more than a credit card.

The most common problems facing ISVs who use a software license manager to license their applications in the cloud are the following:
– license keys locked to hostids may become invalid between instances,
– license servers used to enforce concurrent or floating licenses are too complex for cloud customers to manage,
– license models that rely on usage records are too hard to retrieve.

The critical technology change in RLM v9 to accommodate cloud-based software deployment is in the ability for software vendors to easily create and manage license server farms. The idea is that ISVs create these farms on their own servers, and run multiple instances of their ISV server within the farm to serve licenses to all customers who are using cloud-based products.

What problems does this solve?

By being able to run multiple license servers on the same computer, an ISV can eliminate the problems mentioned above. Specifically, licenses deployed in the cloud point back to the appropriate license server in the farm, so no local (cloud) hostids need to be checked and the user no longer needs to set up a local license server. Also, since applications deployed in the cloud must contact one of the license servers in the farm, ISVs can easily gather license usage information used to produce periodic post-use invoices for their cloud-based users.

What’s best is that you don’t have to create a separate “cloud-enabled” version of your application. Your off-the-shelf version will work just fine because this solution is a part of RLM’s  the new v9 license server, and is governed by the license keys that you give your customers.

Of course, the value of this new functionality is not limited solely to users in the cloud.  ISVs who want to simplify the deployment of their floating licenses for their traditional customers can set up license server farms for them as well.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

Portfolio Decisions Licenses the Reprise License Manager (RLM)

Summary: After using several other software license management solutions, Portfolio Decisions found the Reprise License Manager (RLM) to be easier to install and support while offering increased licensing flexibility and control.

Who We Are

Portfolio Decisions is a management consulting and software firm specializing in the analysis of decision options and alternatives. We take business planning to the next level. A conventional business plan is valuable, but like a paper road map when you re on a trip, it is limited and static. Our approach is like a GPS combined with Google maps – valuable even when you’re navigating unfamiliar territory or facing changing circumstances and complex choices.

What We Do

With our approach, decision makers can link business investment decisions to strategy and explore ways of meeting or exceeding their performance goals. Perspectives, our portfolio management tool, helps identify and assess strategic options interactively – in real time, yet comprehensively – honoring both financial and operational metrics, near term and longer term considerations, and project interactions. Foundations, our data management tool, compiles and manages data from disparate sources, preserves an audit history, and facilitates processing of economics data, forecasts, strategic plans, budgets, and post-review data for planning and valuation needs.

Our Clients

Our clients include global corporations, midmarket companies, and private equity firms. Highly skilled professional engineers, economists, and financial staff use our tools for strategic planning, budgeting, and quick responses to senior executive requests for acquisition assessments.  Our clients require reliable access to software, the ability to install without IT support, and the ability to move software licenses from desktops to laptops by themselves, so they can continue to work from home or on the road, For our part, we do not compare ourselves to Google maps or a GPS lightly; we take seriously our commitment to speed, flexibility, and comprehensive, data-supported analyses. Clearly, no one wants a licensing issue to slow down the results. We prefer to spend our time helping companies derive more value from their businesses rather than installing and policing licenses of our software.

Our Licensing History

For a small company, Portfolio Decisions’ history with licensing products is a long road with several twists and turns.  Initial products we investigated were so burdensome to users that we elected to simply trust our user base.  This went well for a time, but one inappropriate incident half a world away told us we needed a licensing product.    The initial product we used was painful for clients to set up and horrific to administer.  Our next product used a web site to initiate a license.  Due to security settings, we often cannot get internet connections at our clients’ sites, so licensing with the web based product could become a cumbersome and often embarrassing process.  The consultant onsite could not complete the job without calling another consultant who had internet access.  We sometimes spent longer licensing our tool than the tool takes to optimize a portfolio. This painful path caused us to continue to search for a solution that protected our intellectual property without putting undue burden on our staff or our clients.

The RLM Solution

Since implementing Reprise’s RLM solution, we have nearly eliminated our licensing headaches.  RLM has been simple to implement and even simpler to use.  The licensing product is integrated by our development teams but administered by our portfolio management consultants.  Most clients use a node lock license which we administer in accordance with lease agreements.  The license structure is easy to tie to expiry dates on software leases. We can offer a single license file for multiple products which makes the client’s life easier, and we can use roaming licenses to meet clients’ varying demands.  Reprise has been easy to work with and very supportive. Our clients are equally happy with the Reprise security solution. Once again, we are happily engaged using our expertise to help decision makers gain insights into the performance implications of their decisions while we are also confident that our intellectual property is protected.

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website

Vision Software Solutions Ltd Licenses the Reprise License Manager (RLM)

Vision Software Solutions Ltd

Summary: A New Zealand based software company chooses the Reprise License Manager (RLM) to launch its product that uses subscription licenses activated over the Internet.

We are a New Zealand based start-up company still very much in our launch phase having spent the last 5 years in development mode. We have only just recently made our software product available for sale.

Our product “VSS Thunder” is a project management type tool designed for the building and construction industry with small to medium sized businesses specifically in mind. Our aim is to reduce the paperwork load of their businesses and give our customers greater visibility on all aspects of their projects, meaning hopefully spending less time in the office as a result.

Russ Lines (our founder) is a builder by trade so the concept came out of his need for a simple solution for his business but it quickly became apparent that other builders could benefit from it as well.

We sell subscriptions to VSS Thunder online via our website vssthunder.com so protecting our software via a licensing system is very important for us as is the ability for our customers to easily activate their keys over the internet. We have been with Reprise for over a year now and are a very satisfied customer. We appreciate the support Reprise has given a small start-up company like ours – especially one based on the other side of the world!

Our aim is to eventually take our product worldwide and we are confident that our relationship with Reprise will help us get there. Watch this space.

Shane Lines
Marketing Director, Vision Software Ltd

Help for RLM license administration

- view the RLM License Administration Manual here
- Visit our license administration help page here

Written by Reprise Software - Visit Website