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About Managing Network Licenses

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Network License Manager (NLM) runs on one or more servers in your network to control the distribution of licenses from the available pool. When a user starts a product, NLM requests a license from the license server. If a license is available, NLM assigns it to the requesting user. This assigned license is subtracted from the number of available licenses on the license server. When the user exits the product, NLM makes the license available again.


NLM uses a process called cascading, in which NLM automatically switches or substitutes licenses according to a ranking hierarchy. Lower-ranking licenses are used whenever possible. Higher-ranking licenses are used only when necessary. For example, they are necessary when a user is running two or more suite products, or when all lower-ranking licenses are in use. During this process, NLM surveys license usage every two minutes. As it surveys, it redistributes licenses among users and retrieves licenses that have been unused for longer than the allowed timeout period.

Licenses are consumed in this order:

  1. First, multi-user licenses for a product
  2. Perpetual and maintenance licenses
  3. Licenses for industry collections that include the product
  4. Finally, licenses for design and creation suites that include the product

License cascading is most effective in a large user group when NLM has a pool of different license types available for distribution. For example, suppose that the pool includes product-specific licenses for several products, licenses for an industry collection, and licenses for a suite. In this case, NLM has many options for determining the most efficient way to manage the licenses. If a user runs multiple products, NLM can assign single-product licenses as individual products start up and replace them with an industry collection or suite license.

You can disable cascading for product releases of 2016 and later. You do so by setting the value of the environment variable ADSK_CASCADING_OVERRIDE to 0 (a setting of 1 enables cascading). This setting applies across all products.

Important: Cascading is essential for suite licensing. Don’t disable cascading for suites.
Note: Cascading is automatically disabled for Autodesk Enterprise Token Flex (product code 535H1) regardless of the setting.

Options File

Although an options file is not required, you can use one to further control how NLM manages your network licenses. The options file is a simple text file in which you code parameters to control timeout periods, licensing borrowing, and other license-distribution factors.

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