Unlocking the Mystery: How to Tell if Your License Dongle Is in Use


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One of the key responsibilities of a hardware asset manager is to keep track of the licenses that are used in the organization. When it comes to license dongles (or, in other terminology, security keys) that’s a really challenging task. These dongles are small hardware devices supplied by software vendors such as Autodesk or Siemens to ensure that their protected software are used only by the customers who have paid the hefty price for a license. 

The trend is to move to the cloud, but license dongles are still prevalent

It may seem like a bolt from the blue, but hardware keys still exist, and the end users of your organizations may be still using them, despite the overall market trend of shifting from hardware to cloud-based licensing. The shift is fast-paced, according to Gartner. The market research firm foresees that more than half of enterprises will have shifted from traditional solutions to the cloud by 2025. The cloud’s popularity is not new, but the significant adoption is driven by cloud-native applications that emerged in 2015, and they have been rapidly growing ever since.

Still, hardware-based licensing and such license dongles are prevalent and in high demand in areas where maximum security is required or network access is restricted, says OpenLM’s Mikhail Chucklomin, business development manager of Guardant. “Last year set a record for the number of hardware keys sold, software licenses and overall revenue for the business in general. We expect that in three years, more than 50% of revenue will come from software,” he adds. 

How do you know whether license dongles are being used?

In the light of the above statement, you may want to check again whether the hardware keys the organization paid for are being used by the engineers. Knowing whether a license dongle is being used is pivotal, as it can help you avoid overpaying for licenses or running into compliance issues. So, how can you tell whether the USB dongles are in use or not? Here are some basic steps you can do: 

Check the dongle status using the software provided by the vendor

Most software publishers provide an application that allows you to check the status of a specific license dongle. This software will typically tell you if the dongle is connected to the USB port of the workstation, the software is running, and whether the license is active. If the dongle is not connected to the computer or you don’t see any active license usage, the dongle is likely not in use.

Physically check the dongle

If you don’t have any software supplied by the vendor, you can physically check the hardware key. This means a visit to the end user’s workstation to check whether the dongle is connected to it. That’s easy to do if you are in the same building with the end user but hard to fulfill if you are elsewhere, or if they are located in another city or country across the globe. Then, your options are limited to mail or phone. 

Monitor license usage

Another way to determine whether a license dongle is being used is to monitor license usage. A centralized software license management system such as OpenLM’s will give you the right data about actual license consumption so you can tell whether the licenses are in use or not.

Keep track of license dongles

The best way to keep track and monitor license dongle usage is to have a centralized register of all hardware keys. This creates common ground for license dongle usage tracking, as you can monitor any type of token, regardless of the software vendor. 

This is what OpenLM’s Dongle Monitoring solution provides. It doesn’t matter whether your license dongle was provided by Guardant, Keylok, Microcosm, or SecuTech. Dongle Monitoring builds a bridge between all these platforms and gives you the high-level management tools for all the license dongles the organization has, including the management of lost of stolen dongles. 

Just add any type of dongle you want to track into the system, and you will always know when the token was connected to the end user’s workstation, for how much time, and who has used it. OpenLM’s Dongle Monitoring solution gives you immediate access to real-time or historical reports about dongle usage, so you can rest assured that the organization is using the tokens in compliance with vendor requirements. 

Do you know whether your license dongles are in use or not? Try OpenLM’s Dongle Monitoring solution now!

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