In the age of DRM and Securerom in the consumer world it seems the only people being inconvenienced by licensing platforms are the genuine customers who are forking out for the licensed product. After all the torrenters of this world simply run keygens or cracked exe’s – and never worry about it again.

It should then come as no surprise that the same is true for the corporate world. At Splash Damage we have committed many hours to dealing with Autodesk, so much so that it almost becomes significant when considering staffing levels :)

Autodesk use a system called flexlm (formerly macrovision now acresso soft.) to handle their content protection for both the single user environment and network licencing type deployments.

The Pitfalls of Node Locked Licensing

In this case a license key is generated for a specific machine, and can only be used on that machine. Should that machine breakdown, be upgraded or replaced you need to fill in a “Software Removal” form and fax it back to Autodesk EMEA reading something along the lines of “I do solemnly swear that I uninstalled the software”. After which they will generate a key file for the new machine. 

This isn’t an automated process in fact it’s very hands on and involves sending multiple emails and making multiple calls while struggling to make your self understood and even worse struggling to understand the babelfish style responses you receive.

Vista 64 Caveat (isn’t there always)

The node locked license is actually a network license where there is a single seat, and the license server runs on the same machine. This presents problems as the license server service is not a compatible Vista 64 bit service -  FUN !

Network Licences and Support Contracts

Network licencing offers just as much entertainment if you choose to take out either standard or gold subscription or happen to purchase your licences at different time.

  • Autodesk will not merge licences that have different support contract end dates (fair enough)
  • Autodesk will not merge contracts that have different support levels (gold/standard)
  • Autodesk will not activate more than one license for the same product on the same server (despite flexlm supporting multiple services /ports)

So if you have two contract one for 20 licences and one for 10 you are forced to run two license servers on two difference machines and modify the end users license files to point to one or the other. This presents considerable overhead in terms of maintaining lists of which users are assigned to which network licences – and prevents you from taking advantage of a 30 seat pool across the whole company diminishing the value of the network license (for which you paid extra).

It’s east to get annoyed by this kind of hassle when I’m spending £10 on an Album or £40 on a game – but when your spending £3/4000 you expect a more efficient licensing experience. Well at least the vendors are willing to assist and often it is them who navigate the minefield that is Autodesks Licensing support and thank the flying spaghetti monster for temp licences !!