Parent page: System Installation, Licensing & Management
For electronics companies that operate a substantial number of software installations on multiple workstations, there is an need for managing the deployment, configuration and licensing of those installations at an enterprise level. To provide a solution for centralized management of company design software, Altium has developed the Altium Infrastructure Server (AIS) – a free, server-based Altium software management solution built on Altium’s Server Foundation platform.
When installed on a local company network, the new server provides centralized control of the offline installation, licensing and updating of Altium Software, along with the management of the software’s users and the roles (user groups) they belong to.
The Altium technology services provided by the Infrastructure Server include:
The Altium Infrastructure Server (AIS) is available as a free downloadable installation file from Altium, and is compatible with PCs running the Windows 7 (or later) Operating System (OS). Note that it cannot be installed on systems running a basic version of the Windows OS (Core, Home, Starter, Base), or on PCs using the legacy Windows XP OS.
Activate the installation process by extracting (from the source
Altium_Infrastructure_Server_[version].zip file) and running the Infrastructure Server installation executable –
Altium Infrastructure Server <version number>.exe. The sequential setup dialogs presented by the installation wizard will guide you through the process.
Progress through the subsequent wizard setup dialogs to confirm or edit the installation locations and web server access ports.
With the server's setup and configuration established, the installation can proceed. The finial wizard dialog shows the server web address on the local PC, for both standard (
http) and secure (
The Infrastructure Server requires Altium Licenses to activate its features and allow network connections. The required licenses files are available within the downloaded zip file as discrete license files (
*.alf), and are activated by registering them with the server via its browser interface, which is accessed via the web addresses (based on the host PC's name) shown in the install wizard's completion dialog, as shown above.
When initially accessing the Infrastructure Server, use the default
admin/admin sign in credentials. As soon as it's convenient, these should be changed to restrict administrator access to the designated server administrator.
When signed in, an unlicensed server is indicated by the message at the top of the interface Home page. Select the associated Add License link to open the Infrastructure Server's License Manager page, then choose the type of license, and therefore its source, from the button drop down menu. The options are:
Select the From file option to import the license files for the Infrastructure Server, such as those included in the downloaded installation zip file. Browse and locate the applicable license files (
*.alf) and upload these to the Server. The server requires two license types for full functionality:
The imported licenses will then be listed and registered in the Infrastructure Server's License Manager page. To active the server's full range of functions, sign out and then sign in again.
– See Browser-based Access & Management for an overview of the AIS interface and its features.
The Altium Infrastructure Server includes Altium’s Private License Service (PLS), which is used to acquire, configure and assign license ‘seats’ to company Users or groups of Users (Roles). It provides control of license leasing mode, license Roaming, license usage logging, and User (LDAP) synchronization and live notifications – plus more.
The first step to managing and distributing Altium software licenses to workstations on the network is acquiring those licenses from Altium's cloud-based License Server, via the AltiumLive portal. This is performed through the server's License Manager page, from the From Cloud option of the button menu.
A valid AltiumLive user account is required to access and acquire licenses from the Cloud. To establish the initial connection to the AltiumLive License Server, enter your account credentials in the AltiumLive Sign In dialog and complete the sign in. The assumption here is that the Infrastructure Server has access to the internet.
All licenses available to your company will be listed in the Add Licenses dialog once the connection has been made to the remote Altium License Server. If need be, use the Product Name filter field to restrict the listing to the license type of interest.
Select the licenses to be acquired by the server by checking their associated Selection boxes. To download the nominated licenses, close the Add Licenses dialog with the button. The acquired licenses will then be listed and available in the Infrastructure Server's License Manager page.
Note that newly acquired licenses will be assigned to
All Users by default, and therefore accessible by any Altium software workstation that connects to its User account in the Infrastructure Server – see Private License Service options for how to disable this default.
The ability of the Altium Infrastructure Server (AIS) to deploy, license and update Altium software products on specific network PCs is constrained by assigned User credentials and/or user Roles. The Server connects with remote PCs on a software permission basis, rather than directly to the machine hardware. This allows full control of which AIS resources (software and licenses) are available to connected PCs, based on their matching AIS User account.
User name details and sign in credentials are listed and defined in the User Management page (under the Users tab) of the Server’s browser interface. User entries that are listed in the User Management page are of different types, and are automatically or manually created as follows:
– See Managing Users (and its sub pages) for more information on working with AIS User accounts .
Two important entry fields in the Add User (and Edit User) dialog are:
Administrator, by entering the Role name in this field. The field will dynamically search for an existing Role that matches the first letter(s) you have typed. By default, Users are not included in a Role group – see below for information on creating user Roles.
An automatically generated User profile is dynamically created by the AIS License Service when a connection is made from an Altium software workstation, or when a user signs in to the AIS.
A connection is normally made to the AIS by virtue of the internal PLS connection feature available in Altium design software. The license connection feature is manually configured in the software's Private License Server Setup dialog, which is opened from the Setup private license server link in the License Management page – accessed by selecting the License Management option from the Account drop down menu (upper right). Only the AIS server name (in practice, the host PC's name) and its active port are required.
When a connection is established by the software workstation to the Infrastructure Server, the AIS creates a profile with a User Name that matches the workstation's Windows User Account name. The created AIS User profile has a First Name entry that also matches the workstation User Account name, and a Second Name entry that matches the workstation Computer Name.
In the example screen image shown below, a remote workstation PC named
ENGINEERING-2 with an active Windows User Account Name of
Bruce has connected to the AIS, which has caused the automatic creation of the highlighted User profile.
These User profiles, which will be generated as all workstations connect to the AIS, can be made members of specific Roles (groups of Users) to control which licenses are made available to Altium software workstations – see below for information on Roles.
If a user signs in to the AIS, either via its browser interface or from Altium software (the Sign in option on the Account menu), the PLS will automatically create a new, full server account name. The generated User name is a compound of the AIS name and the user account name that was used to sign in –
In the example screen image shown below, a user has signed in to the AIS
Barry account, which triggered the PLS to generate a new server-specific User profile:
SYDPC016:Barry. Here, the network name of the AIS (derived from its host PC name) is
SYDPC016, which is also applied as the Last Name in the new User profile.
Users are normally grouped into Roles so that conditions applied by the Server, such as the range of available software licenses, may be set for specific collections of Users (Roles) that have common requirements. For example, an Engineering department would need licenses for Altium NEXUS, whereas Engineering Management may require Altium Designer licenses – in this case, Engineering and Management roles would be created, and appropriate User profiles added to those Roles.
Roles are listed, created and edited in the Infrastructure Server’s Roles page. Select the button to add a new Role in the Add Role dialog, or the icon associated with an existing Role to edit is Name and assigned Members (Users) – the New Members field will dynamically search for existing User Names that contain the first letter(s) you have typed.
– See Managing Users in the Infrastructure Server for more detailed information on server User profiles and Role groups.
The Altium Infrastructure Server (AIS) includes Altium’s Private License Service (PLS), which is used to acquire, configure and assign license ‘seats’ to company Users or groups of Users (Roles). It provides control of license leasing mode, license Roaming, license usage logging, and User (LDAP) synchronization and live notifications – plus more.
Licenses acquired by the Infrastructure Server are converted to Private Licenses for localized access, were they are ‘served’ by the PLS (once configured) to remote software installations over the network.
Licenses for other Altium software products are acquired through the Server’s License Management page, as outlined in the Acquire Licenses section above. When connecting to the online Altium License Service (via its portal) for example, the Add Licenses dialog list will include all licenses that are available to your company, which depending on the licenses needed, can be selected via their associated check boxes and added (downloaded) to the AIS.
When an aquired license is 'assigned' to a Role, only Users that are a member of that Role will have access to that license. In the Infrastructure Server’s Licenses list page (as shown above), select a license entry’s icon to view its details and current assignment.
To edit the current assignment settings select the icon in the License assignments column – note that acquired licenses are set to
All Users by default, as set by the related Private License Service option.
The Edit Assignment dialog allows the configuration of license Role assignment, Leasing Options, Roaming settings and User notifications. In the below example, the License has been assigned to the
Engineering Role, and set for the automatic leasing of 15 of the available 50 license seats. Both license Roaming and Notifications are disabled here.
The license assignment options include:
The Altium Infrastructure Server’s Private License Service (PLS) serves its hosted licenses over the network to Altium software workstations, as determined by the license Role assignments and seat availability. Note that the AIS also offers the potential to serve suitable licenses to Altium Servers that exist on the network, such as offline servers located in different departments.
The majority of situations will call for software licenses to be served to multiple PCs on the network, based on the AIS Role (user group) that they belong to. In short, workstations are identified by their registered User profile (Windows Account Name and Computer Name), and these are made members of a Role that has a license assigned to it.
Alternatively, if a license is set to
All Users (rather than a group Role), any workstation with a registered User profile will have access to that license – Roles are effectively ignored.
The PLS offers a number of options that are configured through the Server's ADMIN » SETTINGS page, under License Manager section.
The options, which are set to suitable settings by default, are:
All Usersgroup. The served license will be accessible to all workstations that connect to the AIS, regardless of any Role group a workstation's User profile is assigned to. Note that license assignments may be edited, as described above. When the option is unchecked, an acquired license is not assigned to any user group and therefore not accessible over the network.
The Infrastructure Server PLS will make licenses available on a Role basis for workstations that connected to the server. Taking the example shown here, if Altium NEXUS on the ENGINEERING-2 computer and the
Bruce Windows User account connects via its Private License Server interface to the AIS, the license that is assigned to the
Engineering Role (of which
Bruce is a member) is leased by Altium NEXUS.
Note that in this example the Altium license was assigned to the
Engineering Role with the Automatic leasing mode selected – see above. When that option is not enabled in the AIS license assignment, the License Management page in Altium NEXUS will simply list the license under Available Licenses, and require you to select its entry and then the Use link to lease (use) the license.
When the license has been leased, by either of the above auto/manual approaches, the Licensing page in the Infrastructure Server will indicate that one seat of the License is in use. The license is immediately released if workstation
Bruce/ENGINEERING-2 disconnects from the PLS or the user closes Altium NEXUS.
– See Private License Service for more information on working with the server's License Manager (PLS).
The Infrastructure Server’s Network Installation Service (NIS) provides a sophisticated, offline method of deploying and managing company-wide installations of Altium software. The service allows administrators to perform automated installations and updates over the local network, and enables centralized control of software availability, configuration and its capabilities.
In practice, an Infrastructure Server administrator uses the NIS capabilities to acquire software product files from Altium, and then assemble these into a configurable software deployment package. The locally stored package can then be deployed to networked workstations as a software installer executable (
*.msi), or as a direct installation using Microsoft’s Active Directory Group Policy.
– See Network Installation Service for more information on working with the server's NIS.
The Server’s Network Installation Service is accessed from the NIS Console (ADMIN » INSTALLATIONS). When opened, the listing under the Product & Extensions tab will be populated with the Altium Products and Extensions that are available to your company. The listing is sourced from the Altium Cloud Vault and requires that your AltiumLive credentials (username and password) are registered with the Infrastructure Server – if not, go to ADMIN » SETTINGS and enter those details in the General – Altium Live Credentials section.
To acquire a product for assembly into a deployment package, first nominate both the product and desired extensions in their respective lists. Select a version of the product/extension from its expanded sub-listing, or just nominate the product itself (top level check box) to acquire the latest version.
Select the button to activate the software acquisition process, which will download the selected products and extensions to the Infrastructure Server’s own storage, ready for assembly into a deployment package. Alternatively, the collection of installation files may be downloaded ( as a
zip file) directly to the local hard drive () – at a later date, the collection can be imported into the NIS (uploaded), or any other server's NIS, to be assembled into a software deployment package.
Depending on server load and your internet download speed, the files make take some time to download. You can monitor the aquisition (download) status under the Tasks tab, which lists and logs NIS operations – you may need to refresh the page (
F5) or change between tabs to update the status.
When product and extension have been acquired (the download State is
finished), the Server Storage tab listing will show the files as stored in the Infrastructure Server.
In the server storage page, select the required products and extensions for the package, and then click the button to start the deployment package generation process. This will open the Deployment Package dialog, where the package itself is configured prior to being generated.
In the example deployment package configuration shown above, the entries in the Deployment Package dialog are arranged to create an installer for Altium Designer 16.1 that will include one file importer (Altium PCB) and the Draftsman extension. The install paths are set to typical locations on the target hard disk, and access to the product files in the Infrastructure Server is gained with the sign in credentials of
User2. An uploaded Altium Designer Preferences file is also included to automatically configure Altium Designer, once installed.
The Deployment Package dialog option fields are outlined as follows:
*.DXPPref) can be uploaded to the Server for use, or any Preferences entry that already exists in the Server selected from the associated drop-down list.
Select in the dialog to generate the new deployment package, which will subsequently be listed under the Server’s Deployment Packages tab. Note that an existing package may be edited and then recreated via the entry's associated button.
The generated deployment package is then available to be downloaded to the local hard disk (), to the browser’s default download location, and distributed accordingly. In the example shown here, the resulting installer package is
The functions under the Infrastructure Server’s Updates tab provide a manual or automated way to keep acquired software and extensions up to date. In practice, the Server will automatically detect and list the latest updates that are available for products/extensions that have been added to the Server’s local storage – as listed under the Server Storage tab.
To manually update a listed entry under Updates select its associated button, or check its Automatic Update box to allow to Server to automatically acquire the latest version, when available. The automated update check and acquisition process will occur at the interval specified under Network Installation in the ADMIN » SETTINGS page. In the example shown here where only Altium Designer 16.1 has been acquired, the Updates list will show the latest available version of Altium Designer and the latest compatible version of the Draftsman extension.
The Updates tab provides additional functions that are particularly useful where a large number of products and extensions are listed – that is, where many products/extensions have been acquired and stored in the Server:
Note that when acquired software has been updated, any Deployment Packages that were previously generated from those software files will be out of date. Deployment Packages may be edited to accommodate the new updates, however creating a new, suitably named Deployment Package may be the preferred approach.
The Network Installation Service (NIS) in the Infrastructure Sever supports remote software installations using installer package (
*.msi) distribution, or with a centralized approach that uses mass Group Policy Installation in a Microsoft Active Directory domain. In both cases, the Infrastructure Server acts as the networked source for the installation files that are retrieved by a deployed installer.
For direct software deployment to an individual workstation, make the generated deployment package (as outline above) available to that machine via a network share, or by copying it directly to the PC. Then simply run the installer.
The software package is installed on the machine in compliance with the configuration settings (paths, software versions, etc) that were applied when the deployment package was created in the Infrastructure Server. The install files are sourced, over the network, from the Infrastructure Server’s storage.
When installed, the deployed software can be licensed from the Private License Service in the Infrastructure Server. When a license acquired by the Infrastructure Server has been set for automatic leasing and assigned to a Role the User is a member of, all the user needs to do is sign in to the Infrastructure Server to license the newly installed software.
In the example case shown here,
User2 is a member of the
Engineering role, which has been assigned
15 seats of an Altium Designer license – one of which will be automatically leased when
User2 signs in to the Infrastructure Server from Altium Designer.
If required, software updates can be installed via the deployed software’s in-application update engine, or by simply creating a new, updated deployment package (
*.msi) for distribution, or by configuring ‘push‘ updates using Group Policy in an Active Directory domain network structure.
To source Altium Designer software updates directly from the Infrastructure Server, for example, ensure that the Local Installation service option is selected in the System – Installation page of the Preferences dialog (DXP » Preferences) – this should be the case automatically, if you have signed in to a local Infrastructure Server from freshly installed software.
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