Author: staff

Cloud-Based License Management

This Article Describes Cloud-Based License Management and in particular several problems solved by this approach.

Traditional floating licensing requires a license server installation on the end customer’s network. Although this deployment strategy is still the most common, you can improve the situation by moving the license servers into the cloud. Let’s look at the issues where Cloud-Based License Management can be of some considerable help.

The crux of the matter is that when you deliver licenses to your customer, you lose control. When you manage your customer’s licenses in the cloud, then you retain control. It’s that simple.

Some of the advantages of delivering licenses in the cloud are…

Customer Preference – Some customers don’t want to set up a license server. They feel this is the vendor’s responsibility. Most small customers don’t have in-house IT support. Licensing in the cloud eliminates the need to install and maintain the license server locally.

Reduce Support Time – Installing a license server can sometimes cause problems. Licensing in the cloud eliminates this task altogether.

Instant Revenue – The publisher can recognize revenue immediately. No more waiting around for the customer to track down the hostid of the server.

Use Anywhere – Your customer can run your software anywhere: on virtual machines, in classrooms, labs, at off-site training, and at trade shows, etc.

License Rehosting – Traditional floating licensing makes it difficult to securely rehost a customer’s license server when it fails or when it is decommissioned.  This is not an issue with licensing in the cloud.

Suspend/Reinstate Licenses – Traditional floating licensing also made it difficult to terminate or suspend licenses. With the license server in the cloud, you can easily deal with non-payment or lapsed subscriptions.

Modify license inventories – With cloud-based license management, it is easy to change license counts up or down, and handle version upgrades.

Usage-based licensing – Pricing software based on usage relies on accurate records. In traditional license server deployments, license usage data is collected at the customer site, making it difficult to collect. With cloud-based license management, the report log containing the usage data is on the cloud, not at your customer’s facility.

Always up-to-date – Your cloud-licensed customers take advantage of upgrades to the server software immediately when released. Backward compatibility of the client-side ensures this.

Failover Servers – Maximize license server up-time with automatic failover server setup, at multiple datacenters.

MecSoft Uses RLM to Improve and Automate its CAD/CAM Software Licensing

In early 2015 MecSoft Corporation started looking for a solution that would allow it to transition away from a hardware key (dongle) based licensing to automated software licensing for its popular line of CAD/CAM products. They needed to make the shift due to the expense and delay programming and shipping individual dongles.

The resulting lack of automation in the license fulfillment process also hurt their ability to provide customers with immediate access to its software applications. They also realized that they needed a software based licensing system that:

  • Could protect products and proprietary information.mecsoft uses RLM
  • Could be effectively integrated with their existing sales platform.
  • Was scalable to both current and future offerings and increasing sales volume

MecSoft looked at many different systems before finally settling on the Reprise License Manager (RLM). They decided to work with Reprise Software because Reprise offered a solution that:

  • Was mature and sophisticated which met not only our needs but also those of our customers.
  • Handled licensing scenarios that satisfied the existing demands of their product offerings, while also providing a viable platform for their future needs.
  • Provided excellent documentation and tech support that allowed them to get started quickly and adapt to the initial integration process.

MecSoft released its products using RLM technology in 2015. According to Mr. Joe Anand, MecSoft’s President, “The systems are functioning as expected and, I am happy to say that, with the help of RLM, we have successfully met all the goals that we set for ourselves when we started this transition process. ”

Our Future with Reprise

Mr. Anand continued, “We have also talked with Reprise about their newest internet-based network licensing system, RLMCloud, and are planning to incorporate this system into the next release of products. We are thrilled that Reprise has been able to provide us with their cutting edge of licensing technology which has allowed us to focus on our core competency while taking advantage of theirs. “

About MecSoft

MecSoft Corporation is a developer of standalone, as well as integrated CAD/CAM software solutions for both the subtractive (CNC machining) and additive (3D printing) manufacturing industries. With a focus on developing easy, powerful, and affordable CAD/CAM software solutions, its goal is to continue to provide manufacturing professionals with the best price-to-performance CNC and 3D printing software.

Post Use Billing

Post Use Billing – an alternative to Subscription or Permanent License Grants

There are situations where it is impossible to anticipate the level of usage of a software package before it is actually used.  In cases like this, a fixed number of permanent licenses or subscriptions may not satisfy your customer’s needs.  Many ISVs and their customers prefer a licensing option which allows the software to be used in excess of some predetermined limit, and then invoiced after-the-fact for the actual usage which exceeds this limit. This type of license model has been referred to as Pay-Per-Use, or Metered or Post Use Billing.

Of course, your life is full of real-world examples of post use billing: your water bill, your electric bill, etc.  Why not adopt this common model to software as well?

RLM supports most flavors of this license model with a combination of metered licenses and an authenticated usage report log.

RLM supports metered, or pay-per-use licenses, with the METER keyword in the license line. When you create a METERed license, the license server maintains a number of meters each with an individual count. When your application runs, the license server decrements the meter after each successful license checkout, and (optionally) periodically while the application continues running.  To utilize this effectively, the license server needs to be under your control, ie. not installed on your customer’s network.  RLMCloud is perfect for this, since you control the servers and hence the meters.

Alternately, you can issue more floating licenses than your customer has purchased, then use the report log to determine usage in excess of the purchased licenses.  At the end of the month, for example, you would invoice your customer for the excess usage.   This is possible because RLM’s usage report logs are authenticated  so that you can verify that they haven’t been modified.  Even better, if the license servers are under your control in RLMCloud, you have continuous access to the report logs.

By using a Post Use Billing license model in addition to your normal permanent or subscription licenses, you can help your customers utilize your software more effectively as well as increase your revenues.

RLM and RLM Activation Pro – what’s the difference?

RLM and RLM Activation Pro – what’s the difference?

Sometimes people are a bit confused by the Reprise product line, in particular, wondering about the difference between RLM and RLM Activation Pro. The two products work together, and both products involve a server component, so that’s the basis for the confusion.

Let’s start with a couple of definitions:

  • RLM (the Reprise License Manager) is a software license manager. You (a software publisher) integrate RLM into your product, and RLM keeps track at runtime who is using your product licenses. RLM can do this entirely within the client library (linked into your application), or, more commonly, your application makes a request of the RLM License Server to “check out” a license. The license server runs either on computers in your customer’s network, or in the cloud if you are using our RLMCloud service. Your application uses RLM every time it runs to verify that the license rights are still present, thus enabling use. RLM, however, never gets involved in the issuing of the actual license files to your customers.
  • RLM Activation Pro, on the other hand, is a Software Activation product. Software Activation’s purpose in life is to generate and dispense the license files for your product to your customers with minimum fuss. Activation Pro also has a server component which we call the activation server. Your application contacts the activation server and supplies a short text activation key, and in exchange, the activation server returns the license which enables your product. Generally, this is done once, right after your customer purchases your software, not every time your software is invoked.

So in summary, RLM provides runtime checking that your application is licensed to run and that the current usage of your application is within the limits you have set, every time your application runs. Activation Pro is used once at the time your customer purchases your software in order to retrieve the license file which is specific to that customer.

HighQSoft Moves to RLM

HighQSoft Moves to RLM and Introduces Licensing.

Previously, at HighQSoft, (server-side) software solutions were either distributed without Highqsoft Moves to RLMlicensing for trusted customers or with hard-coded user limits. Although this resulted in wide utilization of the software, it also risked a potential loss of revenue. While upgrading the products to include new and market relevant features, the decision was also made to introduce licensing.

Protecting the products and thereby increasing sales were only part of the idea. HighQSoft’s OEM customers demanded a transparent licensing process for them to adhere to internal purchase and compliance requirements. “Introducing a transparent license management solution was not only a benefit to us as a company but was also welcomed by our clients,” according to Dr. Ralf Nörenberg, HighQSoft’s Assistant Director.  As another benefit, the confidence to introduce the products to emerging markets , e.g. Asia was strengthened.

Introducing RLM licensing into HighQSoft’s products was quite seamless but also had its challenges due to server-side aspects and target environments of customers usually being cut off from their intranet. Licensing has improved the relationship with customers as well as increased their general satisfaction. The utilization of RLM through Activation Pro works well and is frequently updated by Reprise.

About HighQSoft

For over 25 years, HighQSoft GmbH is an independent and premium partner for the development of measurement data management systems. For our clients, who mostly are from the automotive industries and adjacent branches, we develop complex infrastructure solutions to manage generated test data from engine test stands, wind tunnels, crash test and even self-driving vehicles.

Our leading products are utilized world-wide to be the backbone of quality assurance to have vehicle innovations become high quality series products. We are specialized in the development of software server applications to preprocess, store and manage, access and analyze measurement or test data. Next to distributing our software products, we offer a variety of IT consultancy to our customers in the main markets of Germany, USA and Japan.

Our customers value our consequent focus on the domain of Technical Computing (CAD).

101 License Models – Unrestricted License Models

Unrestricted License Models

A while ago, we wrote a blog post titled 101 license models.  In this post, we will explore the first set of license models described in that post – the Unrestricted License Models.  To review, the Unrestricted License Models we talked about are these:

  • any
  • customer name
  • demo
  • expiring
  • license type (beta, demo, eval)
  • maintenance-thru-date
  • options
  • permanent
  • serial number
  • software version
  • user-locked

These licenses are not locked to any machine or license server.  In other words, they work anywhere.  So, given that a customer can use as many of these licenses as they want, why would you ever want to use one of these?

One reason may be that you want to restrict how a license is used, as opposed to how many copies of that license can be used.  At Reprise, we license RLM to an ISV, but we do not restrict how many develpers can use the development kit, nor do we restrict how many copies of their application that can be used.   We do this by using an unrestricted license model – we lock the RLM license to the ISV’s short name (what we call the ISV name).  Once “out in the world”, a customer can only have software from one ISV of a particular name, so multiple companies would not use the same ISV name to license their software.  This provides sufficient licensing protection for our software.  A customer who has purchased an RLM license would get a permanent license with this ISV name, whereas a demo customer would get an expiring license with an ISV name of “demo”.

Another Reprise product that is licensed in this way is our Activation Pro product.  This is a server-based product, and the real value comes from having a single server that activates the licenses for an ISV’s customer, but we allow our ISVs to run multiple copies of this server, primarily so that they can do testing on a second installation.

Similarily, a product could display a customer’s name in a splash-screen.  Most legitimate businesses would not want another company using software that was licensed to them by name.

Frequently, our customers use user-locked licenses, which are locked to an operating system’s notion of the user name.  While it is possible to have multiple humans logged in as the same user name, this becomes inconvenient.

Also, ISVs might license their main program using floating or node-locked lienses, while some ancillary program or utility uses one of these unrestricted license models so that there is some amount of control, but provides convenience to their customers.

We will explore the other main License Model categories in future blog posts.

Engineering Technology Associates (ETA) Upgrades to the Reprise License Manager (RLM)

ETA switches to RLM

ETA switches to RLM

ETA had used an in-house proprietary license solution for many years. With a growing customer base and increasing complexity of its product portfolio, there is new demand for a more flexible and more reliable license system.

After evaluating several licensing products, ETA found that RLM met all of its requirements:

  • Cross platform (Windows, LINUX/UNIX and Mac OS)
  • Advanced network license server (failover, roaming and token)
  • Convenient tool for users to manage the license server
  • Flexible license policy to fit various users

The integration of RLM into ETA’s software products went smoothly. With an extensive API and a very responsive support team, ETA streamlined its licensing system with RLM quickly and easily. Several helpful new licensing features were added to ETA’s newest releases using RLM’s enriched functions.

About ETA

Advanced product development engineers working as structural analysts for the world’s largest automotive manufacturers established Engineering Technology Associates, Inc. (ETA) in 1983. ETA’s expertise in the areas of vehicle durability, NVH, metal forming, crashworthiness, occupant safety and product design have provided an intimate knowledge of the challenges and needs of the product development engineer. Proactive in the creation and implementation of new analysis methods and solutions, ETA is also the developer of the Inventium Suite, PreSys, VPG and DYNAFORM software solutions.

Using a License Manager as a Load Balancer

(or, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail)

Introduction – The Problem

At Reprise Software, our main product, the Reprise License Manager (RLM) runs on many different platforms (19 at last count). Since our product is a client-server product with an API, we have a set of regression tests that we run both during development and at each release.

One issue of testing a license manager is the desirability to run tests that both succeed in checking out licenses from a license server as well as tests that fail. Given that our product (RLM) is inherently a network-based product, and also given that clients can broadcast to discover a license server, our experience is that running regression tests on multiple machines on the same network at the same time will result in some number of checkouts succeeding that should have failed.

In the past, we have worked around this problem by timing the starts of our regression tests suites so that the individual tests would not overlap each other and yield incorrect results (in this case, incorrect results from the test environment, not from software faults). While this works fine in a development environment, it is extremely awkward during a release cycle when the goal is to build and test many platforms simultaneously.

The Solution – License Management

Since the regression tests are primarily run by a single user, the solution was to create a set of licenses, one per test, then use the License Manager as a Load Balancer to serve them with a single instance per license, nodelocked to the username of the person running the test. Each test checks out it’s own license, and if the license request is queued, the test waits until granted. Now, the tests synchronize across all platforms with the same test never running on multiple platforms at the same time. Different sets of licenses are served for different network segments.

We serve the licenses using RLMCloud, so that the license server is always available, even when development machines go down.  An extra benefit is that our normal regression tests also test the RLMCloud servers at the same time. Win win.

Remembering Daniel Birns

Daniel Steven Birns, Jan 18, 1954 – July 28, 2016

It is with great sadness that we have to say goodbye to our dear friend, Daniel.Remembering Daniel Birns

Some of you may know Daniel as “the FLEXlm support guy”.  Others may know him as the lead FLEXlm developer.  Many more (outside of GLOBEtrotter and Reprise) know him as an extremely talented musician, one who never seemed to find an instrument that he couldn’t master quickly.

We knew him as a dedicated, enthusiastic co-worker, a good friend, and a dedicated husband and dad.

I first met Daniel in 1993, when we were porting FLEXlm to the 88k processor.  Daniel worked for 88open, the industry consortium, and when I contacted them for help with the port, he said “I’ll just come over and help you”.   Well, he did, we went to lunch, and during lunch I realized that I needed to hire him to support FLEXlm.

Within 3 weeks of Daniel’s arrival, it was clear that it was a waste to have him only supporting the product, so I made him the lead developer, and the 2 of us continued to support FLEXlm.  Daniel remained the lead developer from 1993 until 2000.  During this time we had many, many good-natured knock-down, drag-out fights over the direction of the product, but the result in every case was an improved product.  When we sold GLOBEtrotter to Macrovision in 2000, Daniel remained lead developer for a year or two, at which point, he left to spend more time with his music.

While Daniel never worked at Reprise, we always stayed in touch and of course, many of us saw him at several of the GLOBEtrotter reunions.

Daniel, we’ll always love you and miss you, and we hope you are in a better place.

Matt Christiano