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Actian Zen v14 Licensing Primer

The licensing for the Actian Zen database engine (formerly Actian PSQL) can get VERY confusing for certain configurations, so we have put together this description of how Actian licenses their product.

Please read this information carefully! Actian does NOT allow product returns on their software once it is delivered! If you order the wrong product, you may need to order the correct version and have no recourse for returns. Goldstar Software is the premier reseller in the United States, but we must still work within the rules provided by Actian. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us or Actian Corporation directly at 800-BTRIEVE *before* you place your order!

If you want to see the end user license agreement before purchase, you can find the license documents here.

Single Machine Licenses

With the exception of the Active-Passive Cluster (APC) Licenses, each Zen engine license purchased may be used on ONE computer only, so if you have two computers hosting database files, you'll need two licenses. If you have multiple users sharing access to the same set of database files, then you would purchase one license (to go on the computer with the data) with a proper user count or size for your environment.

Definition of a "User"

In the Zen engine license model, a "user" is considered a unique network address that is accessing the database engine. The number of users is limited by the engine type and license purchased. For example, if I have applications running on 3 workstations and accessing the same database engine on a remote server, I need a minimum of 3 user licenses. If I have applications running on 8 workstations AND a service running on the database server that is also accessing the database, then I need a minimum of 9 user licenses.

Note that Terminal Services and Citrix sessions are counted as separate users. So, If I have one Terminal Server which is hosting 18 concurrent user logon sessions, each running a database application, then I must have a minimum of 18 user licenses.

The user count is concurrent -- this means that I can have 50 workstations installed and configured in my environment, but if I have only 20 that will access the database applications at the same time, then I only need 20 user licenses. Any users attempting to access the database above the licensed maximium will get a Status 161 (Too Many Users) error code. It is up to the application to trap and report that error properly.

License Types

Your first goal in selecting the right Zen license for your environment is to determine which engine type you need. The Zen database can be purchased in five different license types, namely the Workgroup Engine, the Enterprise Server Engine, the Cloud Server Engine, formerly known as Vx Server, the Edge Server engine, and the Core compiled library. Let's look at the differences briefly here:

Workgroup Engine

The Workgroup Engine is designed for stand-alone machines, machines accessing local database files (like in a POS system), and for small networks of less than 5 concurrent users. You can NOT build a multi-user Workgroup system for more than 5 users at the same time! If you think you will expand to more than 5 users at some point, we recommend purchasing one of the other license types instead.

Enterprise Server Engine

The Enterprise Server Engine is designed for larger, multi-user environments of 6 concurrent users or more. It leverages the same concurrent-user license model as the Workgroup Engine, but it supports many more users, as well as offering a number of additional features that pertain mainly to performance and scalability, including:

  • Operating System Security: The Server Engine enforces user access rights to database files. With the Workgroup Engine, if you know where the file resides, you can access it. If security is paramount to your operation, you should avoid the Workgroup Engine.
  • Asynchronous I/O Disk Writes: The Server Engines use this method of writing data to the disk in order to obtain increased performance over the Workgroup Engine. Workgroup environments are usually smaller, and may not benefit as much from this extra feature.
  • 64-Bit Capability: The Workgroup Engine is available in 32-bit model only. The Server Engines can leverage all of the improvements offered by the 64-bit memory model, providing substantially better performance for larger environments.
  • Improved Backup Capability: The Server Engine includes access to the VSS Writer, as well as a free license for the Backup Agent.

Standalone Server Engine

The Standalone Server Engine uses the same core code as the Enterprise Server Engine, but it is limited at only ONE user (and it is NOT expandable). This option is suitable for someone who needs only a single-user system (common for developers and testing configurations) but also needs the benefits of the full-blown Enterprise Server engine, noted above.

Zen Cloud Server Engine

The Zen Cloud Server Engine, which was formerly called the Zen Vx Server engine, uses the same core database engine (and thus the same core features) as the normal Server Engine, but it uses a different licensing model based on data size instead of user count. The differences in the licensing models are shown here:

  • SaaS License: If you are installing into a hosted environment for multiple companies, you are implementing the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In this case, you must use the Zen Cloud Server licensing model for your environment.
  • Multiplexing License: If you are utilizing a middleware software layer (often called a "thin client" solution) that is providing database access for multiple users in other environments, including web servers, you must use the Zen Cloud Server licensing model for your environment.
  • Capacity-Based Licensing: Unlike the Workgroup and Server engines, which track users by unique network address, the Zen Cloud Server license is based on the database engine capacity, which is the size of the database files currently in use in GB. Licenses are available in several sizes, including Small (20GB), Medium (100GB, Large (200GB), and SuperSize (Unlimited), with data size increases of 10GB also available. Note that this license model ONLY tracks data file size -- it allows for an UNLIMITED number of users or sessions, whcih can make it an ideal solution for small databases with many users!

Zen Edge Server

The Zen Edge Server Engine, formerly known as Zen IoT Server, scales down the Zen environment to run on smaller IoT hardware. This engine is not directly purchased by end users, but rather is purchased by developers in a special Deployment Pack (100, 250, or 1000 licenses) that provides the ability use Actian's web-based Deployment Portal to generate the necessary license keys for deployment of an IoT solution or similar environment. The Edge engine can be configured from 1 to 10 concurrent users, just like a regular Zen Enterprise Server Engine, though we expect the most common deployment size to be a 2-User license, offering local data collection from the Edge device while also supporting a remote user retrieving data for further analytics.

Zen Core

The Zen Core Library for iOS and Android takes scalability one step further by providing a compiled library for tablet and smartphone platforms, bringing the memory requirements for the engine to under 2MB! This single-user solution is available as a FREE license, ready for use.

License Platforms

The Workgroup Engine is available only for a 32-bit Windows environment.

The two server-based engines, Enterprise Server and Zen Cloud Server are available for four distinct platforms:

  • Windows 32-bit
  • Windows 64-bit
  • Linux 64-bit (Note: Linux systems MUST be 64-bit to run v14.)
  • MAC OSX 64-bit

The Actian Zen Edge Server engine is available for the following platforms:

  • Raspberry Pi (Raspbian Linux) on an ARM CPU
  • Windows IoT Core on an Intel CPU
  • Windows IoT Core on an ARM CPU

The Actian Zen Core library is available for the following platforms:

  • Android
  • iOS

All Zen family licenses are platform-agnostic, which means that your purchased license will work on ANY platform of Zen v14 that you install. Further, it is possible to run the 32-bit Windows Workgroup engine on a 64-bit operating system -- it will just run in 32-bit mode with all the capabilities and limitations that mode offers.

Workgroup Engine Base and User Count Increase Licenses

The Workgroup Engine, as previously stated, supports a maximum of 5 concurrent users. It should be licensed for the number of concurrent workstations that will be accessing the database engine simultaneously. The current "base" licenses available are 1U, 3U, and 5U.

If you purchase a smaller user count, then you can increase the user count by adding a User Count Increase (UCI) in quantities of +1U or +2U. Note that you cannot go over 5 concurrent users -- this is an inherent maximum for the WGE. Thus, buying a 5U license and trying to add +2U will result in an error.

Server Engine Base and User Count Increase Licenses

The Server Engine can be licensed for a number of users starting at 6U and going up from there. The current "base" licenses available are 6U, 10U, 20U, 35U, 50U, 100U, 250U, and 500-User. However, you can have only ONE base license installed on a server at a time.

If you purchase a smaller user count, then you can increase the user count by adding a User Count Increase (UCI) in quantities of 6U, 10U, 20U, 35U, 50U, 100U, 250U and 500U. Thus, it is possible to build a 12U, 16U, 18U, 22U, 24U or other intermediate user counts. However, economies of scale will kick in due to the reduced pricing of the Server Engine for the larger user counts, so this seldom makes sense. In many cases, it may be cheaper to simply over-size the license to the next user count and avoid using UCI's, which can save you money on future upgrades as well. As such, we recommend checking all of your options carefully to identify the price points of every eligible configuration before purchasing.

Zen Cloud Server Base and Data Size Increase Licenses

Zen Cloud Server licenses are available in 4 base data sizes, including 20GB, 100GB, 200GB, and Unlimited. Like the Server Engine, the Zen Cloud Server engine can grow to accomodate your increasing data needs. This can be done via a Size Upgrade (moving from one size to a larger size) or via a Data Size Increase. Size Upgrades are usually the better deal, because this makes you eligible for a upgrade pricing on a future version at the larger size. However, the 10GB Data Size Increases (available in permanent or 60-day temporary keys) may sometimes be a more cost effective way to add data size to your engine license.

Server Engine Upgrades

If you are upgrading from an older version of Zen/PSQL Server or Zen/PSQL Vx Server, you may be eligible for an upgrade discount. (Upgrades are not generally available for the Workgroup Engines, or from PSQL v12 or older, but some old SKU's may still be available if you look carefully.) You are eligible to upgrade to the SAME base license count you have today, or to the NEXT USER COUNT HIGHER.

However, you can ONLY upgrade to the "base" licenses of 6U, 10U, 20U, 35U, 50U, 100U, 250U and 500U. You cannot use an upgrade discount from or towards a UCI. While you cannot upgrade your user count increases, moving to the next higher size allows you to up-size your engine when you upgrade, often for a substantial savings.

Note that Zen Cloud Server 14 upgrades are allowable from Zen Cloud Server 14, Zen v14, and Zen v13 and Vx Server 13 licenses. When upgrading from the "mainline" products, only specific upgrade combinations are allowed. For example, a 6U or 10U license can only upgrade to a Small license. Please check the pricing pages for more details on allowable upgrade configurations.

Sample Workgroup Engine License Configurations

Let's review a few common examples in configuring the Workgroup Engine:

Single, Stand-Alone Machine: Simply purchase a 1-User WGE (Z14WGE1).

Four Users Accessing Shared Data on a Windows Server with Processes Running on the Server: If something will be running on the desktop or server that accesses the database, like an automated data transfer application, then you will really have 5 computers total accessing the system, and you'll need 5 licenses. Purchase a 5U WGE, install it to the server, and place the Zen Client on the other 4 workstations. This is the best configuration for performance and stability. (Z14WGE5)

Four Users Accessing Shared Data on a Windows Server with NO Processes Running on the Server: With the server not running any Zen applications, you don't need to include it in your user count. Like the above, you would need to license ONE machine, the database server,but you only need 4 licenses. If you never expect to install a fifth computer, you can buy a 3U base license and a +1U UCI (for a total of 4 users). Install these licenses to the server and put the Zen Client on the others. (Z14WGE3, Z14WGE+1)

Four Users Accessing Shared Data on a Windows Server AND Accessing Local Database Files: This configuration is common for POS applications or other such environments where the machines need to work standalone or otherwise store files locally. This is actually a combination of the above scenario and the stand-alone scenario. For this configuration, the server (or primary gateway machine) must be licensed for at least 4 users, so you'll either need 5U or 3U+1U for the "main" machine. Each POS system will then need a local engine for accessing its own local files, so the other three computers will each need a 1U WGE. (Z14WGE5 and three Z14WGE1)

Four Users Accessing Shared Data on a non-Windows Server with NO Processes Running on the Server: With the server not running any Zen applications, you can even leverage a NAS device for storage of the database files (though we do not recommend this configuration for performance and stability reasons). You would purchase a WGE with licenses for 4 users (3U, +1UCI) and install it to the fastest machine. Unfortunately, the current Zen Client cannot handle this configuration correctly, so you must ALSO install and license the Workgroup Engine on each machine. Each of these can be a 1U Workgroup Engine (Z14WGE1). Note that for this to work properly, you will need to use the Gateway Locator tool to lock down the gateway for the database directory to the machine with the database engine.

If you have other Workgroup Engine configurations that you would like clarification on, please let us know!

Sample Server Engine License Configurations

Let's review a few examples in configuring the Server Engine:

Windows 32-bit Server with a Maximum of 10 Concurrent Users: Purchase a 10U Server Engine for the server, and install the Zen Client to each workstation. (Z14S010)

Windows 64-bit Server with a Maximum of 30 Concurrent Users: You could purchase a 20U Server Engine and a +10U UCI to hit the 30-User license. However, Because of the lower per-user pricing on the higher user counts, the 35-User license may make more financial sense, and leave you with room for 5 more users. (Z14S020 and Z14S010UCI, or just Z14S035)

Linux 64-bit Server with 18 Concurrent Users, and Three Laptops that Can Store Local Copies of the Data: The server side is easy -- get a 20U Server Engine and install the Zen Client to each workstation. However, for the three laptops which will be able to take data "on the road", get three additional 1U WGE licenses. (Z14S020 and three Z14WGE1)

Note that the above recommendations assume that you are not implementing SaaS, web, or multiplexing environments. So, let's look at a few more configurations:

Windows 64-bit Server with a Maximum of 150 Local Users and 100 concurrent Web Sessions, Accessing a Database of 40GB: With the use of a web server, you must get into the Zen Cloud Server license model. With 40GB of data, you can either purchase a Medium (100GB) license and have room for growth, or you can get a Small (20GB) and then add two +10GB DSI licenses to get to 40GB total. The 100GB solution (ZC14M) is a bit more expensive than the 40GB solution (ZC14S, ZC14+10, ZC14+10), but will likely save money if the data grows over 40GB in the future.

Windows 64-bit Server with a Maximum of 400 Concurrent Users, Accessing a Database of 8GB: Without SaaS or other requirement to use to the Zen Cloud Server license model, one would normally gravitate to the Zen Enterprise Server v14 user-based license model. However, the high cost of the 500-User Server Engine license makes it clear that the capacity-based Cloud Server Small (20GB) license is your much better option. (ZC14S)

Finding the Right Solution For Product Upgrades

Upgrades increase the confusion a bit, and it may be challenging to find the cheapest option. Avoid the confusion, and let us help you determine what is needed! Contact us with the following information, and we can determine the best way to make your upgrade happen:

  • Original Zen/PSQL Engine Version
  • Original Zen/PSQL Engine User Counts
  • Desired Zen Engine Version and Platform
  • Desired Zen Engine User Count
  • Desired Zen Database Size
  • Use of SaaS, Web, or Middleware Environments

Be sure to do this for EACH server that you have, and we will help ensure that we find you the right licensing in the end!

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