Improvements to the Activated Licensing System

Introduction:

With the launch of System Platform and InTouch 2017, a new licensing system was introduced to allow centralized license management, remove the need for dongles, and increase license security by use of Activated licenses.   Since the original release, several field scenarios were brought to our attention that required changes in the licensing system. The below improvements affect licensing for InTouch, InTouch Web Client, Application Server, Historian Server, Historian Clients, OI Server, Alarm Adviser, and Recipe Manager Plus.

This document provides a summary of the licensing process to help you form a good understanding of the recent license improvements in 2017 Update 1 and Update 2.  After the summary of the licensing process, the license improvements are described.

License Creation and Activation:

A license is created and delivered as an XML file.  The XML file contains one to many Activation IDs, one ID for each license purchased.  Distributors forward the XML file to the customer who activates the XML file by connecting their local License Server to the FNO in the Cloud by using the License Manager application installed on their local License Server.   The License is locked to the License Server when the activation process takes place.  During this Activation process, the local License Server is typically connected to the Internet, however, after Activation is complete, connection of License Server to the FNO in the Cloud is no longer necessary.

Please note that should the local License Server not have access to the Internet, there is an offline process to activate licenses.  See the Licensing Guide for details. The License Manager application allows management of the licenses across the network.

License Use:

Once activated and using the License Manager application, licenses can be ‘reserved’ to a particular node or left unreserved (floating) to be acquired by a software product on the network.  A License Server can be located on the SCADA network as a centralized License Server serving and managing all licenses across the network or the License Server can be the same node running the product software.

Once a license is acquired by product software, the license cannot be used by another product until the license is released back to the License Server.  The release of the license occurs when the product goes through a proper shutdown or when the License Server Administrator manually releases the license.

License System Handles Network Outages:

When a license is acquired, a ‘borrowed time’ counter starts counting down. This ‘borrowed time’ is periodically reset by contacting the License Server. For most company SCADA networks, the licensed nodes will be in permanent contact with the License Server over the SCADA network.  The node running the software and the centralized License Server are in ‘heart beat’ communication. However, sometimes the network may be down/disconnected for a period of time. The system was originally designed so that when a disconnect occurs, the product software that acquired the license would stop running after the borrowed time was exceeded.  (Note:  this behavior has been modified, see below stated enhancements). Additionally, when the borrowed time is exceeded, the acquired license is then automatically released by the License Server making it available for use.

If a node has successfully acquired a license and is running, it will continue to run even if connection to the License Server is not available.  However, if the product software continues to be disconnected from the License Server and is stopped and restarted, it will not be able to acquire a license.

Off-line Activation:

When a License Server is not directly connected to the Internet, an off-line license activation process is available.  Please see the License Help files for details.

When Machines fail:

If the software is not gracefully shut down or the device fails, then the license is not released back to the License Sever.  Therefore, the license is not available for another node or the same node.  So the product software will not be able to start again until a license is available and acquired.  The License Administrator has two choices:  Either wait for the borrowed time to end, thus releasing the license, or manually release the license from the License Server (one of the enhancements described below).

 

License Improvements:

After the release of 2017, several field scenarios were brought to our attention that required changes in the licensing system. Multiple improvements have been made to address them. Following is a list of these enhancements.

IMPROVED LICENSE MANAGEMENT:  ALLOW FORCING THE RELEASE OF A LICENSE VIA THE LICENSE MANAGER

Q: One of my computers was physically damaged while various components of the Wonderware System Platform software were running. Licenses had been acquired by the product software. My understanding is that the licenses are released automatically at the end of “borrowed time” which in some cases is 20 minutes and in others 14 days but I cannot wait that long. Is there a way I can force the release of a license using the License Manager?

A: Yes.

In previous versions, forcing the release of an acquired license involved a multi-step process that included a call to our Global Customer Service (GCS) team. Starting with 2017 Update 2, the License Administrator can force the release of a license by simply selecting it in the License Manager, deactivating and reactivating it. This requires fewer steps and eliminates the need to contact GCS (Global Customer Services). Note: If your system has no connection to the Internet, you need to do the deactivation /reactivation using the offline procedure.

 

SOFTWARE PERSISTENCE:  PRODUCT DOES NOT SHUTDOWN AT THE END OF BORROWED TIME

Q: If the node running product software with an activated license lost connection to the License Server it was forced to shut down at the end of borrowed time.  Has this been addressed?

A: Yes,

Starting with 2017 Update 1, products are no longer forced to shut down at the end of borrowed time if the connection to the License Server is lost.

IMPROVED LICENSE RELEASE:  AWARENESS OF OS SHUTDOWN EVENTS

Q: There are many customers using InTouch in an RDS environment who configure the Microsoft RDS server to automatically end disconnected sessions after a preconfigured timeout period. We noticed this would not give InTouch the opportunity to do a graceful shutdown and therefore release the license back to the License Server and the licenses could then not be used by other nodes requesting a license. Has this been addressed?

A: Yes.

In Update 2, InTouch WindowViewer is now aware of OS Shutdown events. When it detects the OS initiating the end of a session, it requests the OS to wait and uses this time to release the license back to the License Server and start an orderly shutdown. Note: This particular improvement is available as Hot Fix for 2017 Update 1, contact GCS.

 

CONSISTENCY FROM PREVIOUS VERSIONS:  FAILOVER LICENSES REINTRODUCED

Q: How many licenses do I need for failover functionality? I thought with the new activated licensing system failover did not require a second set.
A: FLB (Failover/Load Balance) licenses are required.

Initial testing of the new Activated Licensing system seemed to indicate that FLB licenses would not be needed with this new system. However, further testing and received field input determined that FLB licenses are still needed for common implementations in the field. Hence, FLB (Failover/ Load Balance) licenses have been reintroduced to address this need. For more details, see the following Sales Brief posted on Oct 24, 2017:

https://team.schneider-electric.com/TeamDocs/Sales%20Brief_InTouch%20and%20Supervisory%20Client%202017%20Failover_Load%20Balance%20Licenses_1017.pdf

IMPROVED RDS FAILOVER:  MULTIPLE REMOTE DESKTOP SESSIONS FROM A SINGLE CLIENT

Q: In an architecture where multiple InTouch RD client sessions were launched from a single client node and successfully acquired licenses, if the primary RDS server failed and an attempt was made to connect the same client node to a secondary RDS server and launch the same number of InTouch RD client sessions, sessions beyond the first one could not run. Has this been addressed?

A: Yes.

In the initial release, session IDs for multiple sessions from a single client node beyond the first session were tied to the name of the RDS server they were initially connected to.  The License Server keeps track of the acquired licenses using these device IDs. When connecting through a secondary RDS server, the IDs would no longer match. The ID structure has been changed and now IDs for multiple sessions from the same node are keyed off the name of the client node and not the RDS server, addressing this issue.

 

IMPROVED LICENSE RESERVATION:  SUPERVISORY CLIENT AND INTOUCH WEB CLIENT LICENSE RESERVATIONS

Q: InTouch stand-alone licenses can be reserved to a device. However, reserving Supervisory Client licenses and InTouch Web Client licenses to a node does not seem to work. Has this been addressed?

A: Yes.

This has been corrected. A fix was introduced in 2017 Update 2 to address this issue. Supervisory Client and InTouch Web Client licenses can now be reserved to a specific machine. Note: The License Manager pull down list displays an option to reserve a license to a User. This functionality is not implemented. For more details, see the following Sales Brief posted on May 14, 2018:

https://team.schneider-electric.com/TeamDocs/Sales%20Brief_LicenseReservationsFix_0518.pdf

LICENSE SERVER SUPPORT FOR WORKGROUPS.

Q: Are License Servers supported in a Workgroup environment?

A: Yes.

The new licensing system was enhanced in Update 1 to support Workgroups.

IMPROVED LICENSE SERVER REDUNDANCY

Q: When pairing two License Server machines to configure License Server redundancy, if one of the paired machines is renamed, will they stop communicating with each other?

A: Not anymore.

Enhancements have been made so the License Server ID is retained addressing this scenario.

Q: I paired License Servers in two machines to configure License Server redundancy. If one of the machines is damaged and is no longer available can I unpair it?

A: Yes.

Starting with 2017 Update 2, it is possible to unpair a license server from a paired server that is no longer available.

REMOVAL OF LICENSE SERVER REDUNDANCY TIME LIMIT

Our R&D department is currently working to remove the 3 day operational limit on License Server Redundancy.  In the coming weeks it will be made available as a standalone install of a new version of the licensing components. This install will be posted for download from our GCS site.   This will be an “out of bounds” install of the licensing components, meaning the products do not have to be upgraded themselves. Please stay tuned for the announcement.  We expect this to be downloadable in July. For details on the issue, please refer to Tech Alert TA358.