ESRI ArcGIS and the License Manager

Our company has grown much in GIS in the 3 years I’ve been here and in doing so we’ve eliminated every stand alone ArcGIS installation in favor of concurrent licenses. While this enables us to save money over all the stand alone ArcView and ArcEditor licenses we’d need, we’ve begun to run into the problem I’ve heard from many GIS road warriors, you can’t check a license out for work in the field.

I’m actually writing this on an airplane on my way to visit a client to talk to them about improving their GIS system and I’ll do so without a copy of ArcGIS that will run. Sure, I know I can install a copy of stand alone ArcView/ArcEditor on my laptop, but that would not be cost effective for our small company. At past ESRI User Conferences I’ve heard ESRI explain that they can’t let ArcGIS check out licenses because the license manager (FLEXlm) isn’t a secure as they’d like. When I used to work for a very large A&E years ago, we could check out AutoCAD license out of FLEXlm without any issue. The GIS portion wasn’t a big issue because we all had ArcView 2.x/3.x on our laptops which didn’t use the license manager and I didn’t mind not having ArcInfo 6/7 as most of the time on the road I wasn’t doing complex analysis.

While in the hotel room I can use our VPN network to connect to the license manager, but most of the time I’m off the network, unable to use the VPN. I’m going to try and raise this issue again with ESRI at the User Conference, but I don’t expect any movement on their part. GIS has become much more mobile since the days I used old Sun workstations and I think it is time for ESRI to start allowing us to check out ArcGIS licenses (including extensions) for use in the field. I’ve seen the demos on the User Conference stage with the Tablet PC being used by utility companies in the field, but why should we have to tie a stand alone license to every computer that leaves the office? If FLEXlm isn’t good enough to do this, then ESRI should move to another license manager as soon as possible.

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