Altium Vault Licensing

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Previous incarnations of Altium Vault Technologies saw support for several differing types of vault, each with its own dedicated installer. Altium Vault 2.0 is provided by Altium as a single design solution - a solution that offers far more than simply a vault. Its installation provides a service (the Vault itself), whilst also facilitating a platform through which other services and technologies are provided. Think of it as a vault-centric ensemble of features and services.

And while a single installation delivers the full spectrum of features and technologies in their entirety, the actual feature set available to you - at the organization level, as well as the user level - is determined and controlled through the specific licensing purchased.

The way in which the Altium Vault is licensed has changed with Altium Vault 2.6. The vault now provides a flexible 'self licensing' method for adding or acquiring Altium licenses, delivered through its Private License Server capabilities. For more information, see Vault Licensing.

Altium Vault Licensing Explained

Licensing for the Altium Vault essentially consists of the following two components, that together comprise a two-tiered licensing system:

  • Server License - this license determines which features and services of the Altium Vault installation are made available to the organization. Remember that the physical installation of the Altium Vault includes all features and services, so this license simply unlocks some or all of those features, depending on the type of server license purchased.
  • Client Access License - this license determines which features of the Altium Vault installation can be accessed by the users within an organization. While the server license unlocks a particular feature set for use by the organization, it is the Client Access License that determines which of those unlocked features and services can be accessed and used by the people within that organization.
Since the Client Access License controls the ability for individual users to connect to the Altium Vault, it is often referred to as a Connector License.
Server Licenses are perpetual, with the ability to purchase annual maintenance that ensures access to the latest updates to vault technologies, as well as software support (analgous to Altium Subscription for Altium Designer). Client Access Licenses are timed licenses, lasting 12 months. They must be renewed on an annual basis in order to provide continued access to the Altium Vault for the users in an organization. If there is a valid Server License, but no valid Client Access Licenses (no available connections), a single administrative connection is permitted for backup and configuration purposes.

Both Server and Client Access license types are available in three distinct license bundles - Component, Workgroup and Enterprise - with the Enterprise bundle in each case giving an organization, and its users, access to all installed vault technologies. The following table summarizes the features and services included in each bundle:

Features & Services Component Workgroup Enterprise

Standard

  • Backup & Restore

Component Management

  • Component Management
  • Supply Chain

Document Management

  • Integrated Version Control (SVN)
  • Design Document Management
  • Design Re-use
  • Release Management

Team Configuration Management

  • Team Configuration Center (TC2)
  • Network Installation Service

Collaboration

  • Managed Projects
  • Markup System (Document Commenting)
  • Concurrent Design
Note that while a Client Access License for a particular bundle allows a user to connect to the Altium Vault and use the features and services in that bundle, certain features or services will only be available to administrative users of the Altium Vault.

License Combinations

Typically, you would purchase a specific Server License bundle for your organization, and then purchase the required Client Access License, with enough seats to cover the number of users that need to simultaneously connect to your Altium Vault. However, not all users in an organization require access to the same set of features and services that are made available through the chosen Server License. So while purchasing the same feature bundle for both Server and Client Access licensing may suit one organization, it might prove less than desireable for another. And this may well be the case in larger organizations, where users responsible for component creation only, really do not need access to the Team Configuration Center!

And that's the beauty of having a two-tiered licensing system. An organization can choose the Server License it needs, to get the right set of features and services as a whole, then choose one or more types of Client Access License, with the requisite number of seats in each case, to essentially tailor the access to those features and services, in accordance with the needs of its different users.

The following table illustrates the level of access a user has, based on the Server License purchased by their organization, and the Client Access License used to connect them to the Altium Vault.

A user can only access the features determined by their Client Access License, and can not access features above those served by the organization's Server License.
Server License Client Access License Feature Bundle Accessible by User
Component Component Component
Workgroup Component Component
Workgroup Workgroup Workgroup
Enterprise Component Component
Enterprise Workgroup Workgroup
Enterprise Enterprise Enterprise

Client Access Management

By default, the seats of all Client Access Licenses - irrespective of feature bundle they associate to - are gathered into a floating license pool. In other words, one big bucket of potential vault connections. When a user within an organization attempts to connect to the Altium Vault, they will automatically be served a seat of the highest Client Access License available in the pool. This assignment continues for subsequent user access - so all seats of any Enterprise Client Access Licenses will be used first, then seats of any Workgroup Client Access Licenses, then seats of any Component Client Access Licenses.

While this automated client-access is streamlined, it does mean the seats of the Client Access License(s) are assigned and used on a first in, best dressed basis. If you have purchased more than enough seats of the relevant Client Access License type, then this would not be a worry to you. But if seats are limited within your organization, it could cause a traffic jam, with users not able to get at the features they need, because either:

  • There are no seats left, or
  • there are seats, but for a Client Access License that does not give access to higher-level features and services they need to use.
The same user can be accessing the Altium Vault concurrently in different ways (e.g. connected through Altium Designer AND signed-in through an external Browser) and it only counts as a single connection from the licensing perspective.

In answer to this, an Adminstrator of the Altium Vault can assign a user a seat of a specific type of Client Access License - effecting a 'named license' as it were. Doing so will remove a seat of that license type from the floating pool of Client Access Licenses. In this way, the user is always guaranteed access to the vault, and always at that feature level.

Assignment is performed from the Licensing page, part of the Users area of the Altium Vault's browser-based interface. This page presents information in three distinct areas:

  • Connection Management - how the users of the vault are currently connecting to that vault, either automatically, or by dedicated license assignment.
  • Licensed Features - the features and services available for each of the three different licensing bundles (Component, Workgroup, and Enterprise).
  • Licenses Status - a listing of the Client Access Licenses currently detected in the root installation folder for the Altium Vault. For each license, information is displayed regarding its name (Component, Workgroup, or Enterprise), the date it is valid to (it's expiry date), and how many connections (seats) it provides, and how many of those are still available.

The Altium Vault's browser interface features a page for Licensing. This page reflects the Client Access Licenses you have purchased, the features of the vault available in relation to level of license, and the ability to control how your users connect to the vault and its services through use of this licensing.

License Assignment

To assign a specific license type to a user - defining the type of connection they have to the vault - simply click on the Edit control () for the relevant user, or the current entry for that user's Connection. You will be presented with a drop-down listing from which to choose the required level of connection:

  • Component - choose this level of connection to ensure the user is assigned a seat of a Component-level Client Access License.
  • Workgroup - choose this level of connection to ensure the user is assigned a seat of a Workgroup-level Client Access License.
  • Enterprise - choose this level of connection to ensure the user is assigned a seat of an Enterprise-level Client Access License.
  • Auto - choose this entry to have the software automatically assign a seat of the highest available Client Access License.
The drop-down menu will only present a connection type if a corresponding Client Access License for that type is present in the root installation folder for the Altium Vault (the default for which is \Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault).
Only an administrative user of the Altium Vault can access the Licensing page, and manage the connections of the organization's users.

An Adminstrative user of the Altium Vault can assign a specific connection for a user. This means that user will be assigned a seat of the applicable Client Access License, and will always have access to that seat, and therefore the features applicable to that level of connector license.

The user will have guaranteed access to the vault at the level determined by the chosen connection type, only while the relevant Client Access License is valid. If the applicable Client Access License expires, or is not available for whatever reason, the user will essentially be without access to the vault and its services. The software will not automatically connect the user at an alternate level of connection, nor will the connection type fall back to Auto. An Administrator can of course resolve this issue by manually changing the connection type, but it is far better to simply renew the applicable Client Access Licenses to enjoy continued, uninterrupted access to the Altium Vault.

Obtaining License Files

The way in which the Altium Vault is licensed has changed with Altium Vault 2.6. The vault now provides a flexible 'self licensing' method for adding or acquiring Altium licenses, delivered through its Private License Server capabilities. For more information, see Vault Licensing.

Licensing for the Altium Vault is handled locally through license files (*.alf). Acquisition of the required license files is performed through the AltiumLive Dashboard (accessed using the DASHBOARD control at the top of the Altium website). From the Licenses tab, locate the applicable license (in the Server Applications grouping of licenses) then click through to the detailed license management page. Once there, click the Activate button to generate and download the associated license file.

Activate the applicable licenses to acquire the license files needed. In the image above, two licenses are being activated - the Server License (Altium Vault Enterprise) and Client Access License (Altium Vault Enterprise CAL).

The number of license files will depend on the needs of the organization, but a minimum of two files are required:

  • Altium Vault Server License - to determine the features and technologies that are available for use by the organization. The license obtained will depend on the feature set bundle and can be one of the following:
    • Altium Vault Enterprise License <LicenseActivationCode>.alf
    • Altium Vault Workgroup License <LicenseActivationCode>.alf
    • Altium Vault Component License <LicenseActivationCode>.alf
  • Altium Vault Client Access License (CAL) - to determines which of the features and services made available to the organization through the server license, can be accessed and used by the people within that organization. This license also determines how many users can simultaneously be connected to the vault. Although any number of users may be registered to access and use the vault, only that licensed number will be allowed to connect to it simultaneously. Each license provides a purchased number of seats, n, giving simultaneous connection to up to n different users. The license obtained will be named in accordance with the feature set available to the user, and corresponds to the same feature-set bundling as the server licensing:
    • Altium Vault Enterprise CAL_n License <LicenseActivationCode>.alf
    • Altium Vault Workgroup CAL_n License <LicenseActivationCode>.alf
    • Altium Vault Component CAL_n License <LicenseActivationCode>.alf

Once the license files are downloaded, drop them into the root installation folder for the Altium Vault (the default for which is \Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault).

Remember that a mixture of different Client Access Licenses can be purchased, allowing you to tailor connection of your users to the vault, depending on which features and services different users require. Additional licensing can also be purchased as needed, to allow a higher number of simultaneous connections to the Altium Vault. Simply purchase the relevant Client Access License with the number of additional seats required.
The software checks every hour for the presence of valid license files. Without a valid Server License, access to the Altium Vault will not be possible. If there is a valid Server License, but no valid Client Access Licenses (no available connections), a single administrative connection is permitted for backup and configuration purposes.

Exceeding the Licensing Limit for an Altium Vault

If you try to connect to/access an Altium Vault from within Altium Designer, or an external Web Browser, and the limit on the number of simultaneous connections – determined by the licensing – has already been reached, sign-in will fail. In this case, you will be presented with a dialog alerting you to this fact, stating how many users are currently (and concurrently) logged in, and listing those users by Username.

Example of a user trying to access the vault, but being denied. In this case, the license in use for the Altium Vault has a limit
of 5 simultaneous connections, and all those connections are currently being used by other users.

Through the vault's browser interface, an administrative user can kill the session for a user, to forcibly free up a connection. This can be performed from the Sessions page, within the Users area of the interface.

 

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