RG00D – Automation Manager Licensing 101

By Max Ranzau


This article is a breakdown of the way the RES Automation Manager licensing works. There are other fine documents out there describing it, but due to popular demand, here is a RESguru pitch at it. Just for your convenience, a license calculator sheet has been thrown into the bottom of the article for good measure.

Notice: As of November 7th, this article has been updated to take license changes in Automation Manager 2011 into account. The calculator has also been updated:

First of all, RES Automation Manager is licensed by what may be described as agent+type. Besides those, if you want access to certain new tasks in Automation Manager 2011, you must allocate a certain number of licenes to enable it. These are known as Connectors. The rules are as follows:

  • You put licenses into a common pool. You have to purchase min. 5 at a time.
  • A certain amount of licenses will be deducted from the pool for each agent installed, depending on what type of windows computer it is running on
  • Connectors cost licenses. A certain amount of licenses will be deducted for each instance of a given connector type you enable.
  • Any time you delete a Automation Manager agent or connector, the licenses it used will return to the license pool.

So, let’s have a look at the basic rules.

  • 0.5 Automation Manager license will be required by an agent installed on a workstation OS (Windows 2000 Pro, XP or Vista). This is regardless of the underlying hardware, if it’s a regular pc, laptop or even running inside a VM. This used to be one, so if you’re in a workstation/laptop environment, you essentially get two-for-one now. The licenses for workstations are however not rounded down, so 3 workstations would charge you 2 licenses.
  • 4 Automation Manager licenses will be reqired by an agent installed on a server OS (Windows 200X any server edition). Again the underlying hardware virtual or not, does not matter. The server in this case is typically a fileserver, printserver, etc.
  • 8 Automation Manager licenses will be required by an agent installed on a Windows server with Terminal Services enabled in Application mode. Installing Citrix Xenapp on top or not, does not affect this.

Back in the old RES Wisdom 3.0 days it was 1, 2 and 4, then in version 4 it became 1, 3 and 6 and now it’s changed again?? Yes, but those of you who upgrade from Wisdom 3 to 4 will know that RES Automation Manager automagically throws in a bag of SA incentive licenses, meaning that you don’t have to go purchase additional licenses to keep your existing Automation Manager environment running. The same goes when you upgrade to AM2011: Your PC/Workstation/laptop licensing requirements will automatically be cut in half. The operating keyword here for all this is ofcourse SA (Subscription Advantage). In order to be eligeble for the upgrade,  you must have an active SA.. ahem.

The above scenario should be fairly easy to deal with. So what about them connectors we talked about earlier? Well, they’re quite simple too. Out of the box, with just the licenses mentioned above, you can do a ton of nice stuff with Automation Manager, but RES has added specific new tasks beyond the standard set, keyed to specific environments. Examples are:

  • Executing SQL scripts up against a DBMS
  • Provisioning virtual machines on ESX
  • Running SSH scripts
  • Provisioning mailboxes on Exchange
  • Provisioning objects (users, groups, ou’s, etc) in AD

Scr, Wisdom, ConnectorsNow, if you have no use for those types of tasks, fine – even though they are inside the Automation Manager product, they will remain locked and won’t cost you a dime extra. However, if you want to utilize them, you will have to unlock them by configuring a so called Connector in the Automation Manager console. You do that by going to the Infrastructure | Datastore | Setup | Connectors, as shown here on the right ->

When you add your connector, a number of  licenses will automatically be deducted from your license pool. We’ll cover how many for what a bit further ahead. The result in the list of connectors will look like this:

Scr, Wisdom, connectors

So what does this configuration set draw from the license pool then? Let’s take a look at how the licenses are affected. The screenshot below is from the Automation Manager console in the Infrastructure | Datastore | Setup | Licensing node.

New license overviewFrom the connector overview here on the left, we see that a SQL server (no matter if it’s MSSQL, Oracle, MySql or IBMdb2),  will draw 1 license from the pool.

The license charge applies to any SSH host, meaning any piece of router equipment, switch, server, toasteroven, whatever – as long as it can speak SSH, Automation Manager can tell  it what to do. In Automation Manager 2011 there is even a cool feature to upload dynamic scripts too.

If you want to talk to a virtualization host (currently Automation Manager 2011 only supports VMware ESX), you add the Virtualization Hosts connector for the cost of 4 licenses This enables you to use the ESX server provisioning task. Below is an exerpt from the Automation Manager console which may indicate of what it is capable of doing for you:

Scr, Wisdom, ESX tasks

If you select the Create option on the VMware ESX Virtual Machine task, Automation Manager will give you this  dialog box to configure.

Scr, Wisdom, VMesx provisioning

This may give you a good idea of the power behind Automation Manager, all for the measly price of 4 more licenses, and not one single damn script either, thank you.

There are 3 more connectors to discuss. They will however not be covered in great detail here. We’ll leave that for a future article. The point to be made is that you have a connector for MS Exchange (version does not matter), Microsoft Active Directory and Small Business Server.

The Exchange connector charges 16 licenses from your pool. The Active Directory connector charges 32 licenses. Now, before you cough up your skull, thinking that sounds expensive just for one additional feature, think again. What these guys have put in here is a enterprise scaleable Active Directory management solution which can be combined with all the rest of the Runbook automation you need. Take a look at all the cool functionality you get:

Scr, Wisdom, AD provisioning tasks

Here’s an idea: Take the license retail price and multiply it by 32, then go compare how many scriptless management solutions are out there which will allow you to build intuitive, reusable RunBooks, like you saw with the VMware example above. Those tasks are worth every cent. Another thing, if you worry that because you’ve got 10 domain controllers in your organization domain thay you’d need 320 licenses – nope! Relax – after all, your DC’s are configured to replicate to one another, so for Automation Manager to manipulate your worldwide domain, you’d actually only need one connector.

The last connector type, which was introduced in Automation Manager 2011, is a Small Business Server connector. This connector will allow you to manage a Domain Controller, a DBMS and an Exchange server, but they have to be running on the same box. For this 33 licenses are charged. If you think about it, that is 16 licenses saved (32+16+1 – 33). SBS connectors also work great for demo/lab rigs. Note, you don’t actually have to install the Small Business Server per say. This connector just allows you to combine the SQL+AD+Exchange connectors on one box.

Beyond the connectors, Automation Manager 2011 now supports Service Orchestration out of the AM datastore. Where Service Orchestration was a stand-alone product with it’s own seperate database to begin with, it now shares the datastore of Automation Manager 2011. It also shares licenses. The way it works is like this: If you use Service Orchestration to deliver a service (like a managed app or any other business workflow flow) to a user, Automation Manager charges 0,5 licenses for this. Once all services have been returned by a user (apps have been uninstalled, etc) then the 0,5 license is returned to the pool. Service Orchestration license requirements are always rounded down in your favor, meaning 11 serviced users would only require 5 licenses.

Finally, let’s make sure we all understand this: If you have a SQL, Exchange, Domain Controller or ESX, you do NOT need a Connector on it to do regular Automation Manager tasks, such as rebooting it or installing software. The connectors only unlock the Automation Manager tasks specific to those mentioned systems.

Okay so let’s get down to dollars and sense. The calculator below will help you figure out how many Automation Manager licenses you will need for your environment. Remember to use the Click to Edit button below:

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