Tech Tuesday: FlexNet Licensing, Part 3

Joe Belland

Howdy, folks. It’s about time we wrapped up our three part series on the FlexNet Publisher licensing system used by Isograph’s products. As we saw in part 1, the latest version of FlexNet allows for online activation and easy re-hosting of a license. In part 2, we looked at different methods of configuring a license server. Today, we’ll look at one of the most common errors encountered while configuring a FlexNet server license, and how to correct it.

So, you’ve just purchased or upgraded Isograph’s Availability Workbench, Reliability Workbench, or Hazop+ tools, and you’re ready to dive in and get to work. But then when you start the program, you receive an error:

No connection could be made to FlexNet license server and no valid features are defined in local trusted storage.

What does it mean? How do we work around it? Well, don’t fret; we can help.

Breaking down the error, we see two parts to it. The first “No connection could be made to the FlexNet license server” means that the program couldn’t talk to the license server. The second part “and no valid features are defined in local trusted storage.” means that the program couldn’t find a license on the local computer either. Combined, they mean the program can’t find a license and will run in demo mode—without the ability to save or print.

There are a few likely causes for this error:

  1. The client requires a newer version of FlexNet than what is running on the server.
  2. The server information is not entered correctly into the client.
  3. The FlexNet license server is not running, or is improperly configured.
  4. A firewall, or other internet security software, is blocking the client from connecting to the server.

The first one is usually the easiest to figure out. This occurs, for instance, if you were previously running AWB 2.0 on your client machine and you upgrade to AWB 2.1.1. You might get this error message. This is because AWB 2.1.1 requires newer versions of FlexNet than what was provided in the AWB 2.0 installation. As we saw in part 2, the server version of FlexNet must be greater than or equal to the client version. If you install an upgrade on the client only, without updating the server, you’ll probably get this error.

The second possible cause is sort of a dummy error, but still worth a check: if the server information is entered incorrectly into the client, you’ll probably get this error. If this is the problem, don’t feel bad; you’re not the first person to contact Isograph support due to fat-fingering an IP address.

Item 3 can be a little trickier to diagnose. The server administrator will usually need to get involved. Sometimes this one involves looking over log files to find any mention of problem. But sometimes this one has an easy-to-fix cause. If the installation was never completed on the server, then this error will occur. For instance, sometimes the server administrator will install the FlexNet activation utility, and activate a license, but then forget to take the follow-up step of configuring the license manager (LMTOOLS or LMADMIN, as we saw in part 2). If you see the “No connection” error, make sure that you’ve followed the directions outlined in the installation guide for configuring the license server manager.

Item 4—firewall issues—is the one we can provide the least help on. We can tell you if a firewall is blocking connection, but we can’t tell you how to reconfigure it so that it’s not. For that, you’d have to refer to your firewall hardware or software manual. The way we usually tell if a firewall is at fault is by using the TELNET command. This command, which is typed into a command prompt, will attempt to connect to a computer on a given port. If a firewall is blocking the connection, it gives an error indicating so. The format of the command is:

telnet <computer name or IP> <port>

So for example:

telnet 10.0.0.250 27000

…will try to connect to the server at IP address 10.0.0.250 on port 27000. When TELNET is run from the client to try to connect to the server, on the port used by the FlexNet manager, it will help you figure out if a firewall is blocking the connection.

telnet failed

One more thing you can keep in mind when diagnosing this error: does it occur on all client computers or on just one? This helps narrow down the cause. If it’s just one, then there’s likely an issue with that particular computer. Either there’s a version incompatibility or maybe the server information has been entered incorrectly into the software. If all users are experiencing the error, then the issue is most likely with the license server. Either it has been configured incorrectly or its firewall is not permitting access.

If you do encounter this error, don’t feel that you have to solve it on your own. Please contact Isograph technical support: support@isograph.com, +1 949 502 5749 (North America) or +44 1925 437 002 (rest of the world). We have a lot of experience working this one out and can help you find the problem and fix it.

Well, that just about wraps up everything you wanted to know about FlexNet licensing. Join us next time for a completely different topic!

Tech Tuesday: FlexNet Licensing, Part 2

Joe Belland

Howdy, folks, and welcome back for another Tech Tuesday! Last week, we talked a little about FlexNet Publisher, the copy control method used in Isograph’s software. The discussion focused on basic license activation. Now, this makes sens for standalone, or node-locked, licenses. With this licensing type, the license is hosted and used on a single computer, such as a desktop computer. But for license servers, there’s another piece to the puzzle.

Let me back up a bit. Isograph’s software can be licensed as standalone or floating. Floating licensing allows you to share a limited number of licenses among many users. So, for instance, you could have two licenses for Reliability Workbench, but have five people who all have access to the software. This type of licensing can be more cost-effective; since licenses can be shared, the total number of licenses needed can be reduced. When one person isn’t using a license, someone else can.

 

When Availability Workbench is started on a client machine, this is the dialog that is displayed, allowing the user to select which modules to use.
When Availability Workbench is started on a client machine, this is the dialog that is displayed, allowing the user to select which modules to use. It also informs users how many licenses are available.

Now, in order to set this up, the floating license must be activated on a host computer, typically a network server. This computer will then become the license server, and automatically manage the licenses. Many companies have a FlexNet license server already configured, but even in these cases, there are a few things to keep in mind when configuring a license server for Isograph’s software.

Firstly, even if a FlexNet license server has already been installed and configured for other FlexNet-enabled products, you will still need to run the installer for the Isograph product, and choose to install the FlexNet license server components. For legacy products, such as AttackTree+, NAP, FaultTree+ 11, and AvSim+ 10, this is necessary in order to find out the composite host ID, which you’ll remember from last time is what the license certificate is based on. For newer products, such as Availability Workbench, Reliability Workbench 11, and Hazop+ 2013, it’s necessary to install the license activation utility, which is where you plug in the activation ID for online activation. For all products, installing the Isograph license server component is required to install the Isograph vendor daemon, which is one of the necessary components of FlexNet licensing.

The custom installation options for Availability Workbench 2.1. If using on a license server, you MUST choose to install the FlexNet License Server component to the local hard drive.
The custom installation options for Availability Workbench 2.1. If using on a license server, you MUST choose to install the FlexNet License Server component to the local hard drive.

The second thing you’ll need is the FlexNet license manager. Most server administrators who’ve worked with FlexNet before are familiar with LMTOOLS, the License Manager toolkit used to configure the licensing service. However, according to Flexera™, the company that develops FlexNet Publisher, LMTOOLS is at end-of-life. This means they’ve stopped future development on it. Their new, preferred tool for configuring a license server is called LMADMIN.

Isograph, going forward, is still supporting both LMTOOLS and LMADMIN. We recommend LMADMIN for users who are configuring a FlexNet license server for the first time. For any users still using LMTOOLS, however, I tend to recommend sticking with it, rather than upgrading. This is particularly the case since LMTOOLS and LMADMIN are incompatible with each other. A license server cannot run both at the same time. That means, if you want to upgrade to LMADMIN for one of your FlexNet-enabled products, all FlexNet-enabled products must be switched over to the new license manager.

The LMTOOLS service configuration page.
The LMTOOLS service configuration page.

My personal opinion is that LMADMIN is a much more feature-rich tool for configuring a license service. LMTOOLS was nice for its simplicity. No installation was required; you could simply drop the lmtools.exe onto your server, run it, and have the license service configured and running inside 30 seconds, if you knew what you were doing. LMADMIN requires a bit more setup; it has it’s own installation, and it acts like a web service: you access the LMADMIN interface through a web browser. This means there’s more overhead (and more opportunities for things to go wrong!) during setup, but once it’s going, it’s a very powerful utility for configuring license services. As I mentioned, it uses a web service interface, so you can remotely access it; you no longer have to edit license files to set things like what port numbers should be used; and the user interface provides much more information about the service, versions, and ports in use. I suppose from that, you can tell why I like it more. In my primary job providing technical support, when I’m assisting a user to configure a license server, it’s much easier for me to collect information and diagnose errors if the user is on LMADMIN.

The LMADMIN vendor daemon configuration page.
The LMADMIN vendor daemon configuration page.

Either way, both of these license manager packages are supported by Isograph and can be used to configure your floating licenses. Once the license server is configured, you’re free to install the Isograph software package on any client machines. The clients will connect to the server to access a license.

One last thing to keep in mind; all these components—the license manager utility, the license manager service (LMGRD), the vendor daemon, and the client software—all have their own files and versions. Flexera™ has defined a hierarchy for version numbers:

  • Version of LMTOOLS must be ≥
  • Version of LMADMIN/LMGRD, which must be ≥
  • Version of the Isograph.exe vendor daemon, which must be ≥
  • Version of FlexNet used by the client application, which must be ≥
  • Version of the activation utility.

Isograph’s latest products, Availability Workbench 2.1.1 and Reliability Workbench 11.1.1, both use version 11.11.1.1 of the FlexNet Publisher. What this means is that if you have an existing license server running, say, version 11.2 of LMTOOLS, you will need to upgrade the version of LMTOOLS on your license server in order to use the latest versions of those products. Isograph has download packages for version 11.11.1.1 of both LMADMIN and LMTOOLS available on our website. Please contact us to get either of these packages.

I realize I got a bit techy here, but that’s the name of the column. Join me next week when we conclude this series. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the more common issues that we’ve encountered while helping users with license servers.