Citrix License Server 7.11 Phones Home Until you Stop It

Late last night Citrix dropped the bits for XenDesktop 7.11.  There are a ton of great features in this release and I will discuss them over the next few weeks but there’s a gotcha you need to be aware of buried in the new 7.11 license server.  Let’s talk about the Citrix License Manager Service.  First, check out this article:  http://docs.citrix.com/en-us/licensing/11-14/technical-overview.html

Here’s what Citrix says about this service:

Citrix License Management Service

The License Management Service enables better capacity planning and license management. This service also helps you avoid prohibited practices:

  • Duplication of licenses outside a Disaster Recovery (DR) environment
  • Use of legacy licenses for new product versions
  • Use of rescinded licenses

This service further alerts the administrator in Citrix Insight Services about duplicate licenses in a Disaster Recovery (DR) environment. For more information about Citrix Insight Services, see Citrix Insight Services.

The License Management Service uses product telemetry, built into the License Server, to send data to Citrix Insight Services. The first upload occurs one week after the License Server first starts and subsequent uploads occur every week thereafter. The schedule resets if you reinstall the License Server. If an upload fails, another attempt is made in 24 hours. This continues indefinitely until either the upload succeeds or you disable the License Management Service. Citrix may use uploads to help you understand and support your license environment. See Use the command line to disable or enable the License Management Service.”

So here’s the gotcha… many Citrix administrators with a large environment have a DR.  Citrix has never provided a decent DR for the license server, choosing instead to give you a grace period to reestablish one in the case of failure.  So what many of us tend to do is run a second license server at the DR site with the same license files.  Please note, this IS an allowed strategy as long as you aren’t using the same licenses for different users.  With this new service (on by default) you now phone home your license server data to Citrix Insight Service and it WILL start to warn you that you are running the same licenses on multiple license servers.  Does a warning matter?  Not yet.  And in many cases the license servers can’t reach the Internet anyway.  But I’m a paranoid old admin, and I see where that road could lead.  So with that said, Citrix does provide you a way to disable this service:

From a command line –

Syntax:

ctx_license_management_service.exe (-enable|-disable|-query)

where:

-enable enables license management. The first upload to Citrix occurs seven days after you install the License Server.

-disable disables license management. We recommend you use the License Management Service to manage your licensing environment.

-query  Displays the current configuration.

I haven’t had a way to try this, but I suspect license server upgrades may re-enable this service.  So make sure when you go to say 7.12 you check for this.  And if you don’t care about this at all, then feel free to ignore this paranoid post 🙂

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