OpenLM for Autodesk – A practical guide

Transition from network licenses to named-user subscriptions

Autodesk subscription offerings

Office employee doing remote work on computer

Autodesk licensing models in 2022


  • Introduced in 2015.
  • At first there were two options: single- and multi-user.
  • Multi-user subscriptions were discontinued.
  • All are now single-users, but not single computers. Autodesk allows up to three devices per user.
  • A subscription gives you access either to a specific product or a collection (software package for a specific industry, such as architecture, engineering and construction, which includes AutoCAD, Revit, Civil 3D, InfraWorks, and Navisworks)

Autodesk Flex

  • targeted at small and medium-size businesses
  • based on the disposable-token licensing model
  • hosted on the cloud
  • works strictly on a per-product basis
  • after the products are chosen, the customer purchases tokens to run them
  • flexible user allocation
  • expensive
  • good for occasional users

Network licenses

  • the best model for licensing
  • flexible 
  • enables organizations to get optimal usage of licenses
  • based on FLEXlm license manager
  • no longer supported


  • targeted at enterprise customers 
  • network-license model, hosted locally
  • licensing option based on actual usage
  • Token-Flex Licensing is a fixed-term contract 
  • works strictly on a per-product basis and does not include suites 
  • after the products are chosen, the customer purchases tokens to run them
  • two types of tokens:
    • annual tokens, which expire after 365 days if unused 
    • contract-based tokens, which last for the term of the contract 
    • Autodesk price based on 24 hours of use per user
    • based on FLEXlm license manager
    • no longer supported
Two software developers are using computers to work together wit

How much does an Autodesk subscription cost?

It depends on the product and the collection you purchase. You can have an Autodesk license by selecting from three terms:

  • monthly: no long-term commitment; easy for temporary product access in case the staff increases
  • annual: good for short-term projects; save 33 percent of the monthly subscription price
  • multi-year: have a fixed subscription price for three years; automatic product updates so your software is always up to date.

Example of a standard named-user subscription: 

AutoCAD license price

$235 monthly

$1865 annually

$5315 every three years


If you opt for Autodesk Flex, then AutoCAD’s price is seven tokens per day.

Computer developer working at office
OpenLM for Autodesk – A practical guide

Autodesk has three plans for its subscriptions:


  • designed for individuals and smaller companies
  • includes general product-usage reports
  • two-step verification


  • designed for medium and large teams
  • includes all the features of the standard subscription
  • SSO: the user can sign in using the preferred identity service
  • directory sync
  • product-usage reports with user details


  • designed for big organizations
  • includes all the features of the Premium plan
  • allows customers to add their own metadata
  • gives control to access downloads
  • managed success plan

What license to allocate to which user?

Before Autodesk moved to enforce its subscription licensing policy, OpenLM didn’t encourage organizations to allocate licenses to end users. The reasoning was very simple: when you allocate a network license to an employee, you turn a dynamic license into a static one. But as Autodesk has phased out network licenses, organizations have had to allocate the software they purchase to specific end users. 

That’s fine, but it has to be done right, based on data, so organizations can maximize ROI. So, what’s the best way to prepare for this? Open up your license monitoring and management tool (e.g. OpenLM) and generate reports to obtain the data you need to back up your named-user license procurement plan.

Does this mean that you should take the list of users from last month who actively consumed Autodesk licenses and get a named subscription for them? Is the Autodesk transition that simple? Of course not! You need a lot more information to make a decision.
Prepare for the Autodesk network license to named-user subscription transition with OpenLM

Autodesk is seeking to get companies that use multi-user licenses to switch to named-user licenses. The transition program started in May 2020. Since then, the vendor has repeatedly pushed back the end date, because it is becoming clear that this “minor” change is a huge challenge for organizations. 

Why? Because the switch to named licenses could do a lot of damage to an organization if it doesn’t know how its Autodesk software inventory is being used.

What are cascading Autodesk licenses?

The people in charge of managing licenses for Autodesk are very familiar with the idea of license cascading. It is the backbone of an optimal policy for using licenses and is especially important for large organizations with complicated plans for distributing licenses.

In a nutshell, the goal of cascading is to make sure that all users use the minimum number of licenses they need to do their jobs. When all of the lower-ranking licenses are used up, or when a user needs features that aren’t in the current product, the Autodesk license will move up to the next level. This makes the best use of licenses in terms of cost and availability.


Key metrics to check before the transition

Decide on the time span you want to look into, start applying filters to the database, and let OpenLM provide the data you need for the transition. In this case, the more you have OpenLM deployed, the better; however, if you have only (e.g.) two months’ data, that will be a good start to get an overview of how Autodesk licenses are consumed within your organization.

Next, you want to know how your licenses are being used. To see the big picture, you need to look into the key metrics:

  • the inventory of the license pool;
  • who is actually using it;
  • the user/license ratio.

Why are these important? Because you need to know how end users are using the Autodesk multi-user (floating) licenses. That’s the main question here: are we fully utilizing our licenses, or just 50 percent?

Autodesk license inventory and usage – example

Let’s say we have an organization with 100 users. Each has access to AutoCAD, because the organization has 30 network (multi-user) licenses, which covers their needs. Out of the hundred employees, there are at least three levels of users.

  • The first level consists of roughly 50 people, the designers, who use AutoCAD six hours per day. They use the application because they produce the drawings.
  • The second level consists of the managers of the designers, about 20 people. They use AutoCAD for one or two hours per day to check the drawings.
  • Then there is a third level, the top managers, about 10 people, who use AutoCAD only once a month to check what has actually been done, check a comment from a customer, or maybe add their signature to a drawing.

Finally, there are the remaining users, 30 people, who yet again occasionally launch AutoCAD to check where the project is heading to and communicate with customers. They use it only a couple times per year.

Why knowing the user-license ratio is critical

First things first. If you have, let’s say, 30 multi-user licenses, you must ask yourself if you are fully utilizing the licenses or maybe just 50 percent.

Second, you need to understand how many users the current licenses serve. This is important for understanding the actual rate. For example, if you have 30 licenses and serve 60 users, then everything is fine: you will get the licenses you need with the trade-in, and you can cover everything for the same cost. However, if you serve 90 or 100 users, then our critical parameter gives us a 3:1 result.


What is the user/license ratio?

The ratio between end users and license inventory is the most critical parameter determining the efficiency of an engineering network licensing system. You can get this number by dividing the number of users by the number of licenses. If the result is 4 – the magic number – then it means you are on the right path, but you can do better.


With a license optimization solution in place, this ratio can go up to 6:1 or more. This means that the actual trade-in offer an organization needs is a 6:1, not 2:1. If you accept it, you agree that Autodesk is offering only two named-user licenses in exchange for one network license. 

So, what can you do during the transition? Buy additional licenses for the rest of the end users who won’t be able to access Autodesk applications after the transition closes. But then you need to make a decision: do they really need a named-user license? Are they using the application that much?

What does Autodesk offer this organization?

Through its transition program, Autodesk is giving this organization 60 named-user licenses in exchange for 30 network licenses. By going with Autodesk’s offer, you give up the on-premise management of licenses in favor of cloud management: you create an Autodesk account for every user using their email address to give them access to install the application(s). 

The software on a single device restriction was lifted: end users can use the applications on up to three devices. They will continue to charge the same price for the licenses for the next couple of years. 

The applications users have access to are listed in your Autodesk account. To access license utilization reports you need to log into the portal. They need to enter the same email the SAM manager used to give them access to Autodesk apps. 

Why you cannot rely on Autodesk in preparing for the transition

But there’s a big problem with this offer. Up until now, this company’s workflow was based on concurrent licensing, so everyone could use AutoCAD whenever they needed to. Now, the organization’s SAM/license manager will have to choose 60 people to give AutoCAD access to. They can’t rely on Autodesk because it doesn’t have enough information about

  • who is using which application;
  • which feature(s) they’re using;
  • how long they’re using the software;
  • how many denials they encountered;
  • how many license managers they have, etc.

The vendor doesn’t know anything about how licenses are used. This is the information provided by license monitoring and management solutions, like OpenLM. The vendor just makes the company take the trade-in offer. 

Autodesk does not provide licenses for the remaining 40 people. This means that after the change, these people won’t be able to use AutoCAD unless the organization buys licenses for them. 

Simply put, this means a big hole in the budget and a challenge for the organization when planning the best way to switch from network/multi-user licenses to named-user licenses.

How to estimate the number of named-user subscriptions after the transition?

Even though the vendor says the change will be easy, it will be hard for organizations that use multi-user licenses, because SAM managers will have to make an educated guess (or a decision?) about how many named-user licenses they need to buy. Autodesk has pushed back the end of network licenses twice, which shows that the switch to named licenses is harder than was first thought. 

The main question for organizations that use multi-use licenses is how to figure out how many named users licenses they will need after the transition. 

The easy way

The change will be easy for organizations that use OpenLM to track how Autodesk licenses (and other licenses) are used. OpenLM gives you solid information that will help you make a plan for buying licenses before the two-for-one trade-in offer ends and Autodesk ends the transition program. 

You’ll be in charge of the negotiation process with the Autodesk representative after you’ve thought about these things. There is no room for guesswork when it comes to purchasing licenses. You will know exactly how many named-user licenses you need to keep operations running smoothly. OpenLM gives you the information you need, such as insights into how licenses are used and user-level reporting, so you can negotiate the optional Autodesk solution.

The data you need 

License usage 

You can look at three reports that OpenLM gives you to help you get ready for the Autodesk switch: license usage, license denials, and license activity. The information you’ll get is based on how the license was actually used.

The license usage report shows how many single- or multiple-feature licenses have been used out of the total number of licenses. It shows usage patterns over configurable time periods. The tabs in the display pane allow you to view this report in three different ways: as a table, a chart, or a heatmap diagram. 

License activity 

After you have the information above, you need to find out how many users are actually using an Autodesk network license, as mentioned in our example. This is different from the total number of users, and OpenLM’s license activity report can help you figure out the difference. 

Using the same license servers and time range, you can tell OpenLM to show you the total number of hours used. This will help you find the end users who have access to the Autodesk product but haven’t used it, so you can take them out of the procurement plan now that you know they don’t need a license. 

You can find out how many engineers you serve with that Autodesk multi-user-license pool by looking at the license activity report. It will also help you figure out the user-to-license ratio, which is an important part of the Autodesk transition we’ve been talking about.

OpenLM helps you decide on the right Autodesk offer for your organization

  • The Autodesk monitoring solution is limited to the named-user license models.
  • OpenLM maps all your software assets and monitors all of them:  Token-Flex licenses, network licenses, named-user licenses.
  • OpenLM captures the users’ license utilization data.
  • Our solution is also able to recommend which user should use which license based on the actual usage data. 

Once again, the question: Which license should you allocate to which user? 

To answer this question, you need to know exactly which of your end users are accessing Autodesk applications regularly, and which only occasionally. 

Every organization has different levels of users, so you can use OpenLM to learn how all active end users use licenses. We can break them down to two main categories:

  • power users; 
  • occasional users. 

You will be able to figure out what they are doing with the Autodesk license they check out using OpenLM. We suggest looking at the number of sessions to get a clear picture of what a user is doing. Click “Group by user,” and then choose the package you want to look at. 

If you filter by total usage time (in hours), OpenLM will show you the names of all the users who are using the license for that Autodesk software package. You can then finally tell who is using the software and who is not. If the chosen period is used for less than an hour, you don’t need to buy a license for that user. 

These are just the beginning steps of getting ready. 

OpenLM gives you the information you need so you can analyze it and make decisions that are well-informed and based on facts. So, you can make the switch from multi-user licenses to named-user subscriptions easier for Autodesk. 

Why pay a premium for something you can have for a fraction of the money?

In the table below, we compare the reporting features Autodesk provides for $300 per year per license to OpenLM, which costs only $24/year/user. 


Autodesk (premium plan required) $300/user/year

OpenLM ($24/user/year)

Total products/Inventory*



Usage details



Real-time usage



Session duration



Actual usage



Historical usage

max. 12 months

any time

Directory synchronization



Project usage



Group usage



Product name and version



Last-accessed date



Frequency of use



Users by product






Install the Agent



IMPORTANT: Autodesk’s reports are limited to its own applications. By comparison, if you use OpenLM, you can monitor any software asset your organization owns, regardless of its licensing model: network, named-user subscription, Token-Flex, dongle, etc.

Use OpenLM to map all your Autodesk licenses, and maintain/monitor/manage them. Be it any types of Licenses, such as Token-flex/ multi-user/  named-user licenses, cloud based licenses or network-based/floating licenses. OpenLM covers all. We capture user’s actual utilization data, session wise, activity wise details for all their licenses,  also group wise, project wise, department wise license usage so that you can predict how many licenses you’d actually require while procuring or renewing.

If you have any questions, please don’t wait to get in touch with us. Also, if you haven’t started keeping track of your Autodesk licenses yet, you can use OpenLM to get the data ready for analysis. 

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