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Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

EcoStruxure Geo SCADA Expert Forum

Find out how SCADA systems and networks, like EcoStruxure Geo SCADA Expert, help industrial organizations maintaining efficiency, processing data for smarter decision making with IoT, RTU and PLC devices.

MikeForshock
Lieutenant JG
Lieutenant JG
0 Likes
6
585

Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

This may be more of a rant (possibly a suggestion) than a tech request.  (note: lots of sarcasm in this too)

Let's start with the basic journey:

  • Buy GSE Licenses and FIRST support (required... because SECOND is the first loser...)
  • Install GSE on machine
  • License GSE on machine (software key, via email ONLY)

Let's add the change in tempo:

  • Swap a hard drive (SSD had 3 years of wear on previous SCADA software, fresh start!)
  • Clone the drive (Acronis and/or Macrium works very well)

So the machine ID changes, kind of expected.  But there is a problem:

Tech support is closed for the day... Okay, well that sucks...

  • Copy machine ID,
  • Send to TRSS (now RO) for license replacement
  • Swap back to the older SSD for now

This next part is not so much SE fault: couldnt get back to customer site for a few weeks (scheduling is difficult during end of fiscal).

Start over.

  • Clone SSD (nearly a month of updates, changes, historics, etc.)
  • Image to the SAME SSD replacement 
  • Same mainboard, CPU, memory, drives, etc. NO Hardware differences

A new machine ID... The license file is invalid (original and replacement)

Start over again...

  • Contact SE support "The Geo SCADA guys left of the day." - Perfect
  • No one works tomorrow, it's a holiday (Happy Canada Day BTW) - Perfecter
  • It's the weekend after that, support is out - Perfectist
  • Holiday Monday (Happy Independence Day!) - Perfecterister!

So now what do we do, we've done the whole thing over again!

  • License files require manual process by SE

After some digging we discover that the ID (Disk Signature) on the drive changes when imaged, so we manual change the ID to match the previous machines drive.

Now the replacement license works!  Hurray we saved the weekend and our holidays!

(HyperV users with clusters and/or cloning, this may save your day!)

 

So what are our CURRENT options:

  • Buy a dongle license - Would probably be adequate for most situations, additional cost is minimal for most, may require adding a USB hub (module/server chassis has limits with UPS, keyboard, mouse, USB modem, external HDD/backup, etc.)
  • Upgrade to ZEROST support?! - Thats right, there is a special support level for 24/7 access to licensing, probably the most CORE, BASIC ITEM regarding the software.  (This is better than FIRST, how can that be?!)

How SE (AVEVA) could address this problem: do what nearly every software vendor does these days!

ONLINE ACTIVATION!

Modern technologies exist and have for nearly 20 years! Windows XP is super cutting edge these days with its online activation.

Hook up that 56k modem and activate away! Wait, Sentinel can do that?! Schweet!

Our previous primary HMI/SCADA software vendor (nameless, we left them... But they kinda left FIRST) has offered this function for NEARLY 20 YEARS!

 

Coming in FIRST!

Surely there is not a huge learning curve to using the Sentinel key gen software that a few support staff cant help with the process.  I am sure (hopeful?) there is some sort of auditing process within SE to ensure someone isn't randomly making keys for the warez sites, or do we not trust anyone but the ZEROST support people?

6 Replies 6
JChamberlain1
Ensign
Ensign

Re: Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

I think this is the kind of post where I should make it clear that I no longer represent SE.

 

The data used for machine ID generation should be in the DBStartup log. Look for the keyword "Hardware" and it should be there somewhere. This will give you an idea of what changes can affect the machine ID. This will let you plan your licensing needs so that you can do it when support is available or you have a dongle on hand to get you through.

 

In an emergency if you can't get on to the global team out of Canada, try the Australian team, they will help you out with a temp license. You'll have to go back and change it again before it expires, but will get you out of a spot.

 

Be careful with the USB hub if you go that route. Besides the extra point of failure, I've heard of USB ports with enough power to light up the LED but not enough to reliably run the key.

 

For what it's worth the key gen software is complicated enough that for people less experienced with Geo SCADA it does take a bit of training and doesn't hold your hand through a large amount of license options. I wouldn't expect a L1 generalist to be able to do it consistently enough that you wouldn't get just as frustrated going back and forth when it's incompatible or lacking features - they just wouldn't get the practice.

 

I expect the AVEVA licensing platform will be integrated eventually. Personally I'm not looking forward to it. The existing system is much much simpler, and a support engineer can turn around a temp license in a couple of minutes that won't rely on anything other than DBServer being able to read the file.

JChamberlain1
Ensign
Ensign

Re: Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

On reflection the above might be a bit harsh, I absolutely emphasise with you and you are far from alone on this frustration.

 

SE should absolutely to a better job of communicating how this kind of thing should be handled, internally and externally. I think it was raised at some point that there should be a fallback mode for previously valid licenses which I think was actually begun to be implemented.

MikeForshock
Lieutenant JG
Lieutenant JG
0 Likes
0
519

Re: Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

My thinking is that perhaps the FIRST Premium (ZEROST) probably does that exact thing, connect to the open region when closed.

 

Funny thing is though, we never were asked for a site id or any identifier before the person answered the phone.

MikeForshock
Lieutenant JG
Lieutenant JG
0 Likes
0
515

Re: Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

This is getting way to good, it's almost unbelievable...

 

Called tech support again today... At 1:50PM PST I called.  They had already left... 5PM Ontario time is closing time

 

This was to follow up to an email i sent (supportro...) for support request on 6/30/2022.

The case was instantly closed by the automated system as SPAM!

 

How can this possibly get less support?  I am back running the same unsupported, no resource options we had with our old software?! 

 

Premium support as it was just detailed to me involves possibly a different phone number, but only handles "immediate issues" like invalid license key, corrupt database, etc.  So software failing to start, invalid license keys are only available during business hours 9-5 Ontario (EST).  

MikeForshock
Lieutenant JG
Lieutenant JG
0 Likes
1
514

Re: Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

This is how Inductive will win this with ignition, its price for entry is quite high, but the support is stellar.

Even with having never purchased a license they offer phone support; the academy website is loaded with tutorials and much more.

 

sbeadle
Janeway Janeway
Janeway
0 Likes
0
479

Re: Customer FIRST: Frustration, Irritation, Ruffled, Stressed, Ticked (A trial of Licensing and Support)

Hi Mike,

our apologies for the poor experience. We will review this fully and get to the bottom of it.

In the mean time, please can you check that your new server has:

a) the default logging options

b) a server port which is not used by another server on the same PC

c) license file(s) which can be read by the system/admin user.

Thank you

Steve