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Thread: Distributed License Server

  1.    #1
    Member anthonyB's Avatar
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    Distributed License Server

    To help serve up licenses in the order we would like, we are considering setting up a Distributed License Server with two nominal servers in a single physical box in our one office. @ServerA and @ServerB.

    Unless I can't find it, there does not seem to be much chat about this topic on this forum or elsewhere.

    Do you have any experience with distributed license servers? Do you see any advantages or disadvantages with this system? Are there any issues to be aware of if we move from our current single license server to this new system? Can these two license servers physically reside in the same box?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Anthony

  2.    #2
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    Single License Server Model
    The single license server model is the most basic configuration available. The Network License Manager is installed on only one server, which means all license management and activity is restricted to one single location. A single license file represents the total number of licenses available on the server.

    Advantages
    Because all license management takes place on one server, you have just one point of administration and one point of failure.
    Of the three license server models, this configuration requires the least amount of maintenance.

    Disadvantages
    If this single server license fails, the Autodesk product(s) cannot run until the server is back online.

    Distributed License Server Model
    In the distributed license server model, your software licenses are divided across more than one server. Each server contains a unique license file, representing a portion of your total number of licenses. The Network License Manager is installed on each server so all license activity and management is distributed among the number of servers that best suits your needs. The group of servers that make up your distributed network is called the “server pool.”

    Advantages
    Servers can be distributed across a wide area network (WAN) and do not need to exist on the same subnet.
    If one server in the distributed server pool fails, the licenses on the remaining servers are still available.
    If you need to replace a server in the distributed server pool, you do not need to rebuild the entire pool.
    Server replacement is easier than in a redundant server pool, where you must reactivate the entire pool.

    Disadvantages
    If a server in the distributed server pool fails, the licenses on that server are unavailable.
    This model can require more time for setup and maintenance than other models.

    Redundant License Server Model
    In the redundant license server model, all of your software licenses are configured on three different servers. Each server contains the same license file so all of your software licenses are available on each server. The Network License Manager is installed on each server and can monitor and issue licenses as long as at least two of your three servers are functional. In the redundant license server model, all three servers must be located on the same subnet and have consistent network communications.

    Advantages
    If one of the three servers fails, all licenses that are managed in the server pool are still available.

    Disadvantages
    If more than one server fails, no licenses are available.
    All three servers must reside on the same subnet and have reliable network communications. The redundant server pool does not provide network fault tolerance.
    If one of the three servers is replaced, the complete redundant server pool must be rebuilt.
    Last edited by Karalon10; June 6th, 2019 at 10:43 AM.
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    Moderator DaveP's Avatar
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    We tried the "Redundant" model once upon a time.
    Our experience was that, rather than providing a fail-back system, having three servers TRIPLED our chances of it going down.
    We found that if any ONE of the servers went down, it took the whole thing down.
    Bear in mind, this was probably ten years ago, but we quickly switched over to the Single Server model and haven't had (hardly) any issues since.

    I'm not sure what advantage there would be to having Distributed licenses on the same device, though. I guess you could take down one virtual server for maintenance & leave the other one running, but then you only have half you licenses available.
    The primary advantage I see with Distributed is if you have multiple locations. That way if your WAN is disrupted, they can still get a license from a local server.

    But, these days, generally, if your office internet is down, you're in a world of hurt for lots more reasons than your Revit license.
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    The Moderator with No Imagination MPwuzhere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveP View Post
    But, these days, generally, if your office internet is down, you're in a world of hurt for lots more reasons than your Revit license.
    We are backed up offsite...but yeah, before I started here they got hit by ransomware that affected the server, most of the workstations and even another backup server. Dropbox is now off-limits too as that is where it originated.
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    Forum Co-Founder Twiceroadsfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MPwuzhere View Post
    We are backed up offsite...but yeah, before I started here they got hit by ransomware that affected the server, most of the workstations and even another backup server. Dropbox is now off-limits too as that is where it originated.

    Whats funny about this, is a lot of people think im crazy when i tell them that no bidirectional syncing software is allowed on our machines. Or, at least, i wont use them on mine. Dropbox, Box Sync, Sharefile Sync, Desktop Connector, etc. There is no way im allowing someone else to put a file on my machine that im not intentionally copying there. Its way to easy to get ransomware, a cryptolocker, or a good ol virus, even copying stuff manually. I dont need osme group think folder loading **** on my computer. Yikes.

    I now have FIVE clients that have all been hit. One lost everything, and is still suffering through rebuilding (not retrieving). The other 4 were varying levels of salvageable.

    Ive done Redundant, and we do Single Server for licenses, now. But again, we only use the FlexLM licenses for a couple of machines. Distributed makes sense if you have offices in NY and LA, and the backend connection is laggy as heck. Opening and getting a license across a wide WAN with a mediocre connection, sucks. But i wouldnt do it if i didnt have to.

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    Moderator DaveP's Avatar
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    We got hit with a ransomware a few years ago. Someone clicked on a link they shouldn't have.
    Luckily our anti-virus notified us right away and we immediately shut down the source computer.
    But by that time it had started crawling through our server files.
    All of our projects numbers are sorted by date, so the crawler started with the oldest files first.
    The four us us back in IT were frantically deleting project folder until we caught up with it and killed it after only a few dozen projects got hit.
    Since these were all older projects we could bring them back from backups and didn't lose anything.
    But it was a pretty nervous half-hour watching projects disappear from the server.
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    The Moderator with No Imagination MPwuzhere's Avatar
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    Network Drive Discovery has been disabled too.

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    Member anthonyB's Avatar
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    Thank you for your input.

    We have a mixed pool of 5 AEC IC and 6 Revit Only licenses. It used to be that if a user consumed an IC license and then subsequently opened another application within the collection, that it would not take another license. Now I see (and Autodesk confirms) that if there is a lower value license available in the pool (in our case Revit only) then it will consume that as well. So a single user could quickly take three licenses if they had Autocad plus two Revit versions running concurrently.

    I tried using an Options file with the FlexNet server to:
    * For any user that has consumed an IC license, to subsequently exclude them from taking a Revit Only license.
    * A defined group of users (those who we know are working on numerous projects across Revit versions, or those who may want other IC applications) should always attempt to open an IC license first, but if one is not available to then go for a Revit Only license.

    This cannot be achieved with the Options file features. It would need If/Else statements and interactions with the server that the system does not seem set up to do.

    The suggested work-around was to:
    * Use a Distributed License Server model with our IC licenses on one server and the Revit Only license on the other.
    * Define the environment variable ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE set to @ServerA;@ServerB on each computer.
    This would seem to give us the outcome we want: user group A to go for ServerA licenses and user group B to go for ServerB licenses. If those licenses run out the system will then look on the other server. Plus, users that have consumed an IC license will not consume a Revit Only license when they fire up another application.

    This would also make it easy to move users/computers in and out of the IC users group by redefining the env var via a desktop or remote batch file or similar. (Much easier than editing the Options file and having it ReRead into the FlexNet server application.)

    Does this seem a reasonable way to go?

    How are other firms managing this situation?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Anthony

  9.    #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyB View Post
    The suggested work-around was to:
    * Use a Distributed License Server model with our IC licenses on one server and the Revit Only license on the other.
    * Define the environment variable ADSKFLEX_LICENSE_FILE set to @ServerA;@ServerB on each computer.
    This would seem to give us the outcome we want: user group A to go for ServerA licenses and user group B to go for ServerB licenses. If those licenses run out the system will then look on the other server. Plus, users that have consumed an IC license will not consume a Revit Only license when they fire up another application.

    This would also make it easy to move users/computers in and out of the IC users group by redefining the env var via a desktop or remote batch file or similar. (Much easier than editing the Options file and having it ReRead into the FlexNet server application.)

    Does this seem a reasonable way to go?

    How are other firms managing this situation?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Anthony
    So I think that the problem you are referring to was to do with the BDS (old building design suite) model?
    Where someone could actually take multiple licences off the server, and therefore block other users? This was a fairly common occurance in an office where I worked years back - you could open revit then autocad in that order and take only 1 licence, but if you opened autocad and then revit you could consume 2 licences?

    I think this has been resolved in some ways now by the user management system, where you can grant access to products and assuming this was managed properly and proper care was taken to assign users to the correct package (either from the AEC collection or the single product licences) then this should no longer be a problem...

    Then again Im not at the grass roots level in IT where I see if this is still an issue or not, maybe you can let me know if the double up on licences is still an issue regardless of the user management system?

  10.    #10
    Forum Addict sdbrownaia's Avatar
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    So this got me thinking have any of your offices created a "BIM 360 Disaster Protocol" . I'm thinking its only a matter of time before amazon or autodesk services goes down for a substantial period of time, lets say a week. What do we do? We know we could get the files out of the Cache and re-assemble them on a local server, but they are all nasty names. So I'm thinking I should put together some procedures teams should be following to ensure they can go "old school" quickly if needed. Any thoughts?

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