Anyone that has been involved with software license enforcement over the last 20 years will almost certainly have heard of floating licenses. The concept of a centralized license manager serving licenses out to waiting applications on a first come first served basis is pretty well known and understood. But as soon as you start thinking about that deployment model, you will probably start thinking about failure: failure of the license manager, failure of the network, failure of the software. When you have license manager providing centralized license control, you have a single point of installation, a single point of administration and a single point of failure. One crash, and hundreds, maybe even thousands of innocent workstations can’t get a license anymore. Work grinds to a halt. It sounds serious, right? Yet this is one of the most commonly ignored gremlins in software licensing.
From my experience, many software vendors remain unconcerned about high availability until their own customers start to talk about it. I can understand this position in many ways. I often hear the question “Why would I want to add further complexity to the deployment of my software? Hasn’t adding license enforcement to my applications added enough complexity already?”
The added administrative overhead of managing multiple license managers is enough to ensure that the idea of license manager redundancy becomes a hot potato, always becoming something for someone else to worry about. The point I’m making is that redundancy is almost always driven by the end customer. Software vendors rarely come to us asking for redundancy because they’ve decided they should do it all by themselves. They come to us asking about it because their customers have been asking about it and usually it’s their largest and most influential customers.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Redundancy is a topic to be savoured, and not one to only be considered when under the firing line. If you are under pressure to quickly provide a redundancy solution, you need to be prepared in advance. This is even more important when you consider that there are numerous options available today. The traditional concept is redundant license managers; multiple license managers, working together and backing each other up. It’s well understood and reliable and when done properly, your customers might not even be aware when something breaks. But there are other options today, like local cached “grace licenses”; a self-contained local backup that will be there even if the entire network goes away. Even the Cloud is being leveraged today. Major mobile OS providers are using Cloud; where a backup of your phone or tablet is maintained in the cloud, ready to restore a lost or broken device at the drop of a hat.
My takeaway in this is, think about redundancy. Think about it today and think about how you would make it work for you, don’t wait and be caught off-guard.