Impact of Group Assignments on Compliance Calculations

FlexNet Manager Suite 2021 R1 (On-Premises)

The setting for Groups are at risk in the Group assignment tab of the license properties either enforces, or turns off, group assignments for compliance calculations. In this topic, we examine the possible impact of group assignments on the overall compliance calculations.

Turning Off Group Assignments

When the Groups are at risk setting is set to Never, group assignment calculations are turned off. With this setting, group assignments are simply ignored during compliance calculations. (You may be tracking group assignments for other purposes, such as planning license recovery, calculating charge backs, and so on.)

Turning On Group Assignments Affects Compliance Calculations

With any other setting for Groups are at risk, your group assignments (either from purchases or local assignments) are considered in license compliance calculations, and are given second priority after allocations to individual users or computers. This means they have higher priority than other compliance considerations, such as license priorities set on an application, or the normal matching of applications to the most appropriate license. This change of priorities may affect compliance calculations in ways you did not expect, as discussed below.

Tip: Keep in mind that having any groups at risk is a totally separate issue (a management issue) from your overall compliance (a legal requirement in your license agreement with the software publisher).

In most cases, group assignments have no visible impact on compliance calculations. Group assignments simply determine which license gets consumed by a given group. This is most obviously the case when you use group assignments to "portion out" the entitlements from a single license for local management.

Example: Group Assignments May Override Availability

However, in the complex calculations of license consumption, it is possible for group assignments to have a significant effect on overall compliance. In the worst case, it may even show a license as over-used, even when, with group assignments turned off, there are plenty of entitlements and no over-use. (Individual allocations, wrongly used, could have a similar impact.) It works like this:

Suppose a license for MyApp version 6 allows downgrade rights. Therefore, it can cover (be consumed by) installations of both MyApp 6 and MyApp 5. It has 10 entitlements available.

Now imagine that (for some reason) you have another license, without upgrade rights, that covers only MyApp 5. This also has 10 entitlements available.
License Purchased
MyApp 6 (with downgrade rights) 10
MyApp 5 (but no upgrade rights) 10

Now suppose you have two locations, London and Paris. For simplicity, imagine London consumes 10 installations of MyApp 5, and Paris consumes 10 installations of MyApp 6.

When group assignment is turned off, license priorities route the correct installations to the correct license, and this is what happens in compliance calculation.

License Purchased Consumed Paris / MyApp 6 Consumed London / MyApp 5
MyApp 6 (with downgrade) 10 10 zero
MyApp 5 10 zero 10

Everything is balanced.

Now, suppose an operator makes some group assignments. She wants to ensure that the installations in London are covered. Noticing only the MyApp 6 license and its downgrade rights, she realizes that this is able to cover the installation in London and uses group assignments to make it so.

In the compliance calculations:
  1. Individual allocations are processed first. There are none in this example.
  2. Group assignments are processed second. The operator's assignments are honored, and 10 entitlements from the MyApp 6 license are consumed by the MyApp 5 installations in London.
  3. In the third phase of the compliance calculations, there are now no remaining MyApp 6 license entitlements to cover the installations in Paris.

The result is this:

License Purchased Consumed Paris / MyApp 6 Consumed London / MyApp 5
MyApp 6 (with downgrade) 10 None available - OVER-USED 10 by group assignment
MyApp 5 10 Zero (license not applicable) Zero (all installations covered)
The symptoms of this underlying problem will be:
  • No group at risk in this case (group assignments were made only to London, and all the installations in London are covered)
  • Compliance on the MyApp 6 license will turn on and off as follows:
    • When group assignments are turned on, the MyApp 6 license correctly shows that it is over-used (at risk of breaching the license terms) in the circumstances
    • When group assignments are turned off, the MyApp 6 license correctly shows that it is fully compliant in these changed circumstances.

Another operator might easily spot the fact that there are plenty of entitlements available for all the installations (without over-use). The apparent over-use when group assignments are turned on is the clue that something is amiss in the assignments that have been made. You can lower the risk of such problems with the following best practices.

Best Practices

Each of the following principles can be applied independently:
  • Only turn on (enforce) group assignments as a deliberate decision to give the highest possible priority to your selected groups to consume from a license. Keep in mind that your assignments will be honored, and so may affect the overall compliance calculation as above. If your goal is just to observe the consumption of a license by groups (without deliberate impact), leave the Groups are at risk setting as Never, and use reports to monitor group consumption against either local purchases or assignments.
  • Where possible, use a single license across multiple versions of a product. (In the example above, if all 20 purchases were linked to a single license for the latest version, with downgrade rights for earlier versions, turning group assignments on and off would make no difference to compliance.)
  • Where conditions force the use of separate licenses across versions, make group assignments from the lowest version matching license. (In the example above, if the group assignments for MyApp 5 had been made from the MyApp 5 license, there would be no problem.)
  • Where licenses must be separated across versions, keep in mind that you can make group assignments from multiple licenses into a single group. (To extend the previous example, if New York used a 60:40 mixture of MyApp 5:MyApp 6, you can give New York a mixture of group assignments both a MyApp 5 and a MyApp 6 license.)

FlexNet Manager Suite (On-Premises)

2021 R1