What Is NI Volume License Manager?

Publish Date: Jun 10, 2013 | 5 Ratings | 3.40 out of 5 | Print

Overview

National Instruments provides NI Volume License Manager (NI VLM) for free to members of the NI Volume License Program. This white paper provides the benefits of NI VLM, how it works, and how it is different from FlexNet Publisher.

Table of Contents

  1. Why use NI VLM?
  2. How does NI VLM work?
  3. How is NI VLM different from FlexNet Publisher?
  4. Additional Resources

1. Why use NI VLM?

With NI VLM, you can properly track and manage your NI software licenses to save your company money. You can store all of your licenses in a single utility designed to help you track the licenses you own, prevent your licenses from being lost, and maximize the use of your existing licenses. For example, if someone with a license managed by NI VLM stops using the software, the license does not get lost. You can easily transfer that license to a new user. If you had not tracked the license with NI VLM and it was lost, you would have to purchase a new license for a new user.

In addition to transferring licenses to maximize the use of your software purchases, you can use NI VLM and a combination of NI licensing options to optimize your existing licenses. For example, if you have one person who uses up to three computers, you may want to switch from a computer-based license to a named-user license. Or if you have a lab where people share computers, you may want to switch from named-user licenses to computer-based licenses.

NI VLM ensures that you stay in compliance with NI software policies. If your company has strict requirements or conducts internal audits, this can be very important.  

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2. How does NI VLM work?

NI VLM is hosted by a server on your company’s internal network. It contains an agreement license file from NI that lists the software licenses on your company’s NI Volume License Agreement (NI VLA). NI software is installed on client computers that are connected over an internal network to the NI VLM server. The client computers request permission for licenses from NI VLM. You have the option to accept or reject every permission request coming in, or NI VLM can automatically accept permission requests for you. When the NI software starts on the client computer, it asks NI VLM if it has permission to run. Figure 1 shows how NI VLM manages NI software over an internal network.

Figure 1. NI VLM Server Managing Client Computers with NI Software

Many companies have computers that are not on the internal network. Computers in labs or laptops that do not stay connected to the internal network can use disconnected licenses in NI VLM to give permissions for NI software. A disconnected license is a text file that you can easily transfer to a client computer through USB key, e-mail, or other means. It is created for a specific user or computer. See the NI VLM Help for steps in creating disconnected licenses.

All of the software in your NI VLA is maintained in a single location through NI VLM. The recommended configuration for NI VLM includes asking the users of the client computers complete specific information for you. By doing this, you can see who is using the same software in the NI VLA. You can tell the users about other users working with the same software, and they can meet to discuss best practices and learn from each other's work on similar projects. Because you have end user information for each license, you can also divide the costs of the renewal based on who is using each software license.

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3. How is NI VLM different from FlexNet Publisher?

FlexNet Publisher (formerly FLEXlm) was created by Flexera Software for license management. NI VLM is built on the FlexNet Publisher architecture. It is designed to be easier to work with because you can use your mouse to implement actions instead of typing everything into a command prompt. Figure 2 shows the NI VLM interface.

Figure 2. NI VLM Interface

NI VLM has the same architecture as FlexNet Publisher, but it includes additional features to help simplify license management: volume license installers, overdraft, disconnected licenses, and a built-in reporting interface. Volume license installers modify NI software installers and incorporate additional functions. They also configure the software connected to NI VLM for licensing, request permissions for a group of licenses, send end user information to NI VLM, set the default install state based on the client's permissions, and display the NI VLA administrator information. In FlexNet Publisher, you have to manually set everything that is done automatically for you by NI VLM volume license installers. 

With overdraft, you can use more licenses than the agreement allows and pay for them later. This is beneficial for NI VLAs with long purchase order approval processes or expensive internal costs for purchase orders. Disconnected licenses give permissions for computers not on the internal network connected to NI VLM and are a feature unique to NI VLM. While FlexNet Publisher does have a similar feature called BORROW, the computer has to be connected to the network at some point. This gets to be a problem for accounts with different security levels or labs that are not on the network. Computers with NI VLM disconnected licenses never need to be connected to the network.

Finally, you can use NI VLM to gather in-depth information on how licenses are being used in your company with the reporting interface in NI VLM. Seven different reports allow you to gather information on license and client activity and even determine the amount to bill out for usage based on department, manager, cost center or other custom fields of your choosing.

Volume license administrators have the option to use NI VLM or FlexNet Publisher. National Instruments strongly recommends NI VLM if you are not already using FlexNet Publisher. If you are using FlexNet Publisher to manage other software and do not need the features specific to NI VLM, National Instruments recommends using FlexNet Publisher to manage NI software.

To learn how to set up NI VLM, view the NI VLM videos or NI VLM Help.

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4. Additional Resources

NI Volume License Program Overview

The mark LabWindows is used under a license from Microsoft Corporation. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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