Utilizing dynamic licensing in Thinkbox Deadline (Version Deadline 10 or later)
Guest post by Ryan Russell, Manager, Software Development, AWS Thinkbox
Prior to Thinkbox Deadline 10, a render node could be configured to use either Usage Based Licensing (UBL) or traditional floating licenses. While this gave you full control over how your render nodes were licensed, it wasn’t exactly the most flexible system when you were mixing the two licensing models.
Deadline 10 introduced a new Dynamic Licensing Mode to address this flexibility problem, but before we start talking about this new feature, let’s jump into an example of how licensing configuration worked prior to Deadline 10.
WAIT, WHAT IS USAGE BASED LICENSING?
Ah, good question! This blog entry assumes you have some knowledge of what Usage Based Licensing (UBL) is, and that Deadline is already configured to use it. Check out the Usage Based Licensing documentation for information on what UBL is, how to purchase it from the Thinkbox Marketplace, and how to configure Deadline to use it.
Now that you’re familiar with UBL, let’s jump into that example.
Let’s say you have 20 floating licenses, 10 on-premises render nodes, and you want to launch 20 additional render nodes in AWS (perhaps by using the new AWS Portal feature in Deadline 10). Let’s also assume that your 10 on-premises render nodes are always configured to use floating licensing. This means you’ll need to configure half of your AWS render nodes to use floating licensing and the other half to use UBL. It requires some manual configuration, but once it’s done, it’s done, right?
Not exactly. Now let’s say you need to stop 15 of your AWS render nodes. You want to ensure the remaining 5 are using your floating licenses, so you need to be careful about which AWS render nodes you shut down. Again, this requires some manual work, but it’s not a big deal. However, a few hours later, you need more render power again, and start up 10 AWS render nodes. Of those 10, now you need to configure half to use floating licenses and the other half to use UBL.
Over time, this manual process starts to become tedious, especially if you are scaling your render farm up and down on a regular basis. Why can’t the render nodes just switch to UBL if all your floating licenses are already in use? This is the exact problem that Deadline 10 addresses with its new Dynamic Licensing Mode!
HOW DOES DYNAMIC LICENSING WORK?
The concept of Dynamic Licensing is very straightforward. The Deadline render nodes will first try to get a floating license, and if that fails, they will then try to use UBL. That’s it! In other words, when this mode is enabled, Deadline will always use your floating licenses if they are available, and will only use UBL if there are no floating licenses left.
ENABLING DYNAMIC LICENSING
Enabling Dynamic Licensing is easy. This can be done from the Deadline Monitor while in Super User Mode by selecting Tools -> Configure Repository Options. Select Usage Based Licensing from the list on the left, and then check the Use Dynamic Licensing Mode option.
Once enabled, there are a few additional options that need to be configured to get the most out of Dynamic Licensing. The Standard Threshold is the minimum number of Deadline render nodes that must be using floating licenses before Deadline can start using UBL. Typically, you’ll want to set this to the number of floating licenses you have, which is 20 if we’re continuing to use our example from above. Once all 20 floating licenses are in use, then the remaining render nodes can start using UBL.
However, there is a good reason why you might want to leave this at 0. For example, let’s say you need to take your floating license server machine offline for a few hours for maintenance. In this case, none of the Deadline render nodes will be able to get a floating license, and your farm will sit idle. If the Standard Threshold was set to 0, then all of your render nodes would be able to fall back to UBL when they fail to get a floating license. This allows your farm to keep rendering during scheduled outages like this, and it also keeps it rendering during unscheduled outages as well!
The next setting is the UBL Limit. This is simply a cap on the number of Deadline render nodes that can use UBL simultaneously. If you leave this at 0, then no render nodes will be able to use UBL, even if there are no floating licenses available. Continuing the example from above, you might want to set this to 10, since this plus your 20 floating licenses covers you up to 30 render nodes.
However, if you were to start more than 20 AWS render nodes, you would need to remember to bump up the UBL Limit. Another option is to simply check the Unlimited UBL option and not use a cap at all. This way, you can start up as many AWS render nodes as you need, and not worry about licensing (providing you have purchased enough render time from the Thinkbox Marketplace).
Finally, if you were to set the Standard Threshold to 0 and enable Unlimited UBL, you can ensure that your farm is always rendering at full capacity, even if your floating license server goes offline (again, providing that you have purchased enough render time).
With Dynamic Licensing enabled, there is one less thing to worry about as you scale your render farm up and down, which allows you to focus on simply finishing your renders. As always, if you have any feedback on this new feature, or any of the other new features in Deadline 10, we’d love to hear from you on the Thinkbox Forums.
If you would like to get your hands on Thinkbox Deadline 10, it can be downloaded from the Thinkbox Downloads Website. Simply log in with your existing AWS account to access the downloads, or create a new account.
If you are upgrading to Deadline 10, or you want to give it a test run, please contact Thinkbox Sales.