Dear software vendors: Please stop the network license expiry nagging

August 21st, 2012 | Categories: applications | Tags:

I work for a very large UK University and am part of a team who is responsible for the network licenses of dozens of software applications serving thousands of clients.  Many of these licenses need to be replaced annually.  From a technical point of view this is usually fairly trivial but there are various management and administrative considerations that need to be made to ensure that user-side disruption is kept as low as possible.

Each software vendor has its own process for managing the license renewal process..some of them do it very well and some of them seem to work to make our life as difficult as possible but there is one problem that is shared by many software applications.

In a misguided attempt to be helpful to the user, many network licensed applications will display a launch-time message if the network license is set to expire ‘soon’ (where ‘soon’ might be as much as 90 days in the future’) .  The user sees something like

‘Your license for this software will expire in X days.  Please contact your administrator for more information’

Can you guess what happens when several hundred users see that message?  Yep, we get snowed under in panic queries for a ‘problem’ that does not exist.  The license upgrade is scheduled and will happen behind the scenes without the user ever needing to know anything about it. all software vendors whose applications do this for network licenses….PLEASE SHUT UP!

  1. August 21st, 2012 at 13:16
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Seconded – like Mike, I also have to handle panic calls every so often on just this topic. It may be reasonable for node-locked licences to warn, but not network ones.

  2. Steve L
    August 21st, 2012 at 14:23
    Reply | Quote | #2

    For an individual user who may not remember that their license is going to expire, this message is intended to prevent the “Oh $#!*” factor when the license expires the day before $MAJOR_PROJECT is due. [Damn Murphy and his law!] But I can see how it may be annoying or counterproductive in a network license situation.

    The ability to control this message seems like a reasonable enhancement for MATLAB; I’ll enter it into the enhancement database. One way to deal with this for now would be for you to modify the matlabrc.m that your network installation uses to display a “We’re on it” message like:

    disp(‘The administrators are aware that the license will expire. The renewal is scheduled for $DATE’)

    That is one of the stated purposes for MATLABRC:

    “On multiuser or networked systems, system administrators can put any messages, definitions, or other code that applies to all users in their matlabrc.m file.”

    For the rest of the “all software vendors” that do this, you may want to contact them directly.

  3. August 21st, 2012 at 15:06
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Thanks for that Steve. We don’t have a problem with MATLAB since our network licenses for that are perpetual…we only need to update our licenses when we update the MATLAB version. The users usually never notice a thing..exactly as network licensing should be.

  4. Matthew Bellringer
    August 22nd, 2012 at 09:56
    Reply | Quote | #4

    I agree. There are some applications that make this warning very intrusive, too, requiring the user to acknowledge a warning message each time they run the application. Whilst I’m sure it’s occasionally useful in small organisations, the majority of license server customers are likely to be large and have properly managed software. I’d be happy if we could switch such messages off license server-side with an option like “don’t warn clients about this license expiring” in the license manager.

  5. Martin Sapsed
    August 28th, 2012 at 14:09
    Reply | Quote | #5

    I’ve looked after software for a medium UK Uni for nigh on 20 years. I’ll try to stay on topic as there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to see software vendors do that would make our lives easier. Many vendors have an option at install time or in a config file that will prevent these messages – if some do it, they all can. The issue wouldn’t be as bad if vendors released updated licence codes to institutions *before* these messages kick in. As it is, we have to hassle a lot of them right up to the date the old licence expires.