Licensing 101 - Altium License Types and Functions

Created: June 1, 2017
Updated: January 27, 2021

Altium Designer provides a streamlined licensing system that enables you to get licensed and up and running with your Altium Designer software in a timely and efficient manner. The licensing system supports a variety of license usage models to suit the asset management needs of the individual or corporate infrastructure.

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This document outlines the details of the licenses types and their use case. At the conclusion of this document there is a table showing the various features supported by each license type and will aid the reader in determining which license type supports the environment in which the asset will be utilized.

LICENSING STRUCTURE

Licensing Altium Designer is integrated into an intricate and robust system of license file management, sharing, and usage. Altium Designer license files are shared with users in three Altium license types, each with its advantages and intended uses. A Standalone license file is intended for single users or single computers. Private Server licenses are intended for multiple users on a network, where each user can access the Altium Infrastructure Server, using the license on an “as needed” basis. On-Demand licenses, by far the most popular, support a large number of environments, from a single user to multiple users, across all platforms and environments.

Let’s take a look at the features and benefits of each license type. Note: For a quick cheat sheet, you may browse to the end of the document for a summary of the license types and the configurations they support.

On-Demand License

On-Demand (previously known as “global floating”) licenses are by far the most popular license type due to the features and options made available to the user and license manager.  They are also popular as they support multiple users in multiple environment types. On-Demand licensing is available anywhere an Internet connection is available. However, if the user is going to be disconnected temporarily, for traveling purposes or security reasons, the license can be roamed. When the license is roamed, the user sets the length of time that the license will be roamed, and the license seat will be unavailable to other users until the period has ended or the license has been manually returned from “roam” status. If the license contains multiple seats, all other seats will remain available to other users.

On-Demand license types require an AltiumLive user account. AltiumLive user accounts are added to the company account by the company group administrator. On-Demand licenses are activated through the Altium License Management view shown in Figure 1. Once you have an active AltiumLive account, your login is linked to the company licenses and you can access them on any machine that has access to the Internet. If access is removed, be sure to roam the license before disconnecting from the Internet.

Figure 1: An example of On-Demand licenses listed in Altium Designer. Unlicensed indicates the license has not yet been put into use.

On-Demand licenses support groups and group assignments. The group administrator can set up groups within AltiumLive and assign licenses to each group. The administrator can allocate seats to different groups, further managing how licenses may be shared between users. As an example, a license with ten seats may have five allocated to users that work on the schematic portion of the design and another five seats allocated to users for the PCB design.

Private Server License

For organizations that require their Altium software installations to remain offline – isolated from the internet – the convenience and flexibility of On-Demand software licensing can be provided by a localized Altium Infrastructure Server (AIS), rather than from the internet-based Altium Licensing Service. The freely downloadable AIS provides a Private License Service (PLS) that becomes accessible over the local or company-wide network system.

The private license server files are set up and managed by an administrator, usually an IT administrator, on a local server. The Altium Infrastructure Server is downloaded from the Altium Product Download page and run on the server located behind the corporate firewall: https://www.altium.com/products/downloads. License files are added to the Altium Infrastructure Server and are accessed through the Altium License Management view just as an On-Demand license would be accessed.The Altium Infrastructure Server is accessed through a web browser interface to the corporate server where the Altium Infrastructure Server resides.

Figure 2: The web based interface to the Altium Infrastructure Server.

On-Demand licenses support groups and group assignments. The group administrator can set up groups within AltiumLive and assign licenses to each group. The administrator can allocate seats to different groups, further managing how licenses may be shared between users. As an example, a license with ten seats may have five allocated to users that work on the schematic portion of the design and another five seats allocated to users for the PCB design.

Real-Time Usage Statistics

On-Demand and Private License Server licensing have another advantage over the other license type by providing real-time usage statistics.

The usage statistics for an On-Demand license are viewed through the Altium Dashboard which is available to the Altium License Group Administrators.

Figure 3: Real-Time Usage Statistics and Reporting for On-Demand licenses on the Altium Dashboard.

The usage statistics for a Private License Server license are viewed through the Altium Infrastructure Server web interface.

Figure 4: Real-Time Usage Statistics and Reporting for Private Server licenses on the Altium Infrastructure Server.

As a group administrator, the real-time usage statistics put a number of tools and options available at your fingertips. Understanding and knowing the license usage and trends are just the beginning. Utilizing this function, you can put in place alerts to make you aware of peak Altium Designer usage times, user and group usage, and knowing when available licenses are becoming dangerously low. Real-time usage statistics make license management much easier and more efficient.

Standalone License

Standalone licenses are available for situations where a single PC or user will utilize Altium Designer for product design. Standalone licenses are installed locally onto the computer by activating the license through the user’s AltiumLive account, or downloading the *.alf license file from the AltiumLive Dashboard and adding it in the License Management view in Altium Designer. Standalone licenses are limited to the single site license type and can only be used by one user or PC. Altium does allow a temporary install of the standalone license file on a laptop or home computer for temporary usage. There are no license usage statics available for the Standalone license type.

GEOGRAPHICAL ASSIGNMENTS

Each license has a geographic site assignment. This determines the location(s) that the license and software can operate without violating the End-User License Agreement (EULA). There are three types available; Single Site, Continental, and Global.

Single Site

The most common assignment, this license type is used within one geographical location and allows for usage of that license at the site of the company shipping address. Altium does allow for using this license type in more than one location. Provided the same user uses it for temporary purposes, the software may be used for product design in a home office or, while traveling with a laptop computer.

Continental

As the name implies, this license type allows the same license to be used on a given continent. This is useful for companies that have multiple sites and locations across a continent. As an example, an On-Demand license that has Continental permissions may be used by one person to do the schematic design at the office in Massachusetts and then pass the work over to another board designer or engineer in the Printed Circuit Board PCB division located in California. Seat counts still apply, so if they are sharing a license, the license must be used and released accordingly.

Global

Global licenses can be used anywhere in the world. Used with On-Demand license types, this geographical assignment allows a company that has locations around the world to share a license or seats of a license. Taking the same scenario as above, the engineers and designers would be able to accomplish the same scenario, with the exception that they would be in different offices in different continental locations. Another benefit to this license type is if the user needs to travel to a facility or office in another country, they only need to be able to access the license, whether through a VPN for Private Server, or online for On-Demand.

ROLE OF ALTIUMLIVE ACCOUNTS AND GROUP ADMINISTRATORS

Altium license management is administered through the AltiumLive platform. This platform allows for account, user, and license management. Each company will have an AltiumLive account with at least one group administrator assigned upon initial purchase of the license. The group administrator is usually identified during the purchase process as the person responsible for license and account management.

Group administrators can add users, manage groups (On-Demand and Private Server licenses), and track license usage and needs. For a standard user to be able to view, access, and use a license, they should be added as a user of AltiumLive. A Private Server license does not require that a user is added to the account, but it is still recommended they be added for technical support purposes. The platform, a group administrator accesses to manage these items is the dashboard shown in Figure 5, only available to group administrators.


Figure 5: AltiumLive Dashboard – Available to Group Administrators for managing users and licenses.

License Types and Supported Environments

Use the chart below to identify the best license type quickly for your current needs.

User Class

On-Demand

Private Server

Standalone

Single User/PC

X

X

X

Multiple Users

X

X

 

Single Site

X

X

 

Multi-Site (Continental/Global)

X

X

 

Internet Always Available

X

X

 

No Internet Connection (Tools operate offline)

X

X

X

Real Time License Usage Statistics

X

X

 

Global Access

X

   

On-Demand can be roamed before disconnecting from the internet to be used temporarily offline.

Summary

Altium’s licensing system is robust and filled with options for every user and environment type. In today’s EDA world, electrical engineers and board designers could potentially work in a plethora of situations, and sometimes the user will encounter different scenarios within the scope of their job as engineers. You can rest assured that Altium Designer will be fully supported in any environment that you need. Using the guidelines and information provided in this document, be sure to select the license type and the number of seats that will make your company the most productive. If you have users that are waiting for a license to become available, this is lost productivity time, and we here at Altium want to be sure you have every opportunity to get your products to market on time and efficiently. This begins with a correct and efficient licensing configuration for your company.

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