Understanding, Monitoring and Managing Usage

Recently, we have received a lot of questions about how license usage is calculated and how to limit license usage on SELECTserver. Many of the answers to these questions are already available on Bentley.com and Be Communities, but it can be difficult to piece together the various tidbits of information to get a good look at the big picture.

How Usage Is Calculated
Bentley's Licensing Program Manager Steven DeVoll posted a great article on what usage is and how it's calculated which is the best place to start. To summarize, SELECT usage for an application is calculated by looking at how many machines it is used on during each hour of the day; Bentley then looks at the highest hourly usage for each day to determine daily peak usage.

As noted in the first question of our Application and Usage Reporting FAQ, usage reporting is historic, not live, for most Bentley applications. When a Bentley application is launched, it transmits its recent usage logs to SELECTserver if it is able. If it is not able to communicate with SELECTserver, the application will work in Disconnected Mode for thirty days or until communication with SELECTserver is reestablished; while in Disconnected Mode, usage is still recorded and will be reported to SELECTserver the next time communication is established between the client application and SELECTserver. If Disconnected Mode or an Evaluation/Trial Period is exceeded and your product is disabled, you may still be able to use it in fifteen minute increments; this usage is still reported to SELECTserver, even if you do not own a license for the product.

Applications which utilize the IEG License Service (RAM, STAAD, AutoPIPE, SACS, MaxSurf and Multiframe) are currently exceptions to this rule; information on how to see who is using one of these applications in real time can be found in this wiki article. Although these applications restrict concurrency, their usage is still calculated hourly as described above.

How to Monitor Usage and Why It's Important 
Another great blog post from Steven DeVoll explains why usage reports are important. SELECTserver offers several usage reports which will allow you to examine your usage, track patterns of usage and determine where you can reduce your usage. For a full list of available usage reports, check out the Help link on your SELECTserver Administration Site or read the following Quick Start Guide. If you are receiving overusage notifications, the Trusted Usage report will be of particular interest to you. This report will show you how your daily peak usage compared against your owned licenses. The usage shown in blue indicates normal usage. Orange indicates trusted usage which exceeds your owned licenses. Green indicates checked out licenses; while a license is checked out, usage is recorded for every hour of every day until either it is checked back in or its expiration date is exceeded. Once you have determined which days show trusted usage, you can then run a Machine Usage by Hour report to see who used the license when to determine if there are ways in which that trusted usage can be prevented in the future.

How to Manage Usage
While SELECTserver cannot restrict usage, as noted in answer to the first question in the License Behavior FAQ, there are several ways in which you can manage and reduce your license usage.

  1. Restrict the number of computers on which the application is installed. Site administrators can manage which users have permission to download from Bentley's website by editing User Permissions on SELECTservices. For more information on how to manage user permissions, click here.
  2. Assure that your users are using the appropriate application for the job they are doing. For instance, if a user only needs to view a drawing, try using Bentley View. Bentley Navigator, which uses a Bentley Passport license, may also be a good alternative for viewing and analyzing drawings.
  3. Close your Bentley applications when you are not actively using them. Usage is reported for the full duration that the application is open, whether you are actively using it or not, so make sure to close the program before you step away from your computer or move on to do something else.
  4. Be aware of checked out licenses and their effect on your license usage. When a license is checked out, it reports usage for every hour for every day until either it is checked back in or its expiration date is exceeded. This can very easily lead to overusage. For many applications, our Product Activation Wizard presents an option to check out a license when activating. In most cases, you should skip this step. Checking out a license is most useful when you know you will not have connection to your SELECTserver for more than thirty days, but you will still need to access your application, such as when traveling to a work site with limited or no network access.
  5. Utilize Custom Activation Groups to ensure that users only have access to the license for the product that you want them to access.

Common Problems and Misconceptions
When discussing usage with users, I find there are a few particular questions and concerns which come up frequently.

  • Can SELECTserver force users to check out a license or restrict concurrency?
    While you can restrict usage to only checked out licenses by modifying a Site Setting on SELECTserver, thereby restricting concurrent usage, this is not a good means of limiting overusage. Bentley calculates license usage hourly, as noted above, not by concurrency, which means it is still possible to overuse even if your concurrent usage never exceeds your owned licenses. For example, if you have one license of MicroStation which is checked out on one computer at 8:00am and checked in by 8:30am, then MicroStation is used, or a license for MicroStation is checked out, on another computer at 8:45am, a second usage is recorded for that hour, resulting in trusted usage, even though there was no overlap or concurrent usage. Also remember that a checked out license reports constant usage for every hour while the license is checked out; if a user does not remember to check the license back in, continuous usage is reported for that application on that machine, which can skew your usage reports so that you are not seeing an accurate picture of how your licensed applications are being used.
  • Will disabling SELECTserver prevent overusage?
    No. Most Bentley applications include a 30-day disconnected mode. Even if they are unable to communicate with SELECTserver, usage is recorded and then reported when communication is reestablished. This assures that your users will be able to work in the event of a server, network or internet outage.
  • Is usage recorded for applications even if the license is not included on my site or in my custom activation group?
    Yes. Every Bentley application reports usage back to SELECTserver, even if you do not own the license or the license is not included in the site activation key you are using, even if that key is for a Custom Activation Group. Most products will work in Disconnected Mode which allows full functionality for 30 days before entering a Disabled Mode which limits use of the product; usage is recorded for products even when they are working in Disconnected Mode or Disabled Mode.
  • Are node-locked licenses still an option?
    No. All Bentley licensing is currently server-based, even for non-SELECT users. The closest equivalent to a node-locked license currently available is a checked out license. As noted above, checking out a license is not a reliable method of limiting license usage.

It's important to keep in mind that usage is calculated hourly and is not reported live. Bentley does not look at concurrency when determining trusted usage.

Additional Information
I highly recommend reading the blog posts and wiki articles linked above. You can find additional information on license usage and trust licensing here as well:
Trust Licensing FAQ
SELECT Licensing Program
Bentley CONNECT SELECTservices (Formerly SELECTserver) Quick Start Guide

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