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arivis software products and Virtual Machines

considerations when installing and using arivis products with virtual machines.

Introduction

Virtual machines are a convenient way to create environments for software utilization that are unmoored from physical hardware and can be easily reset, copied, or transferred to new machines. However, these same abilities affect several aspects of how the software is licensed and operated.

Licensing

arivis software products are protected from unauthorized use by a licensing system provided by a third-party provider. This licensing system allows institutions who purchase licenses to protect their asset, and us as software vendors from the illegal distribution of our products. Licensing works by locking the software to a specific piece of hardware, typically a computer or dongle.

In the case of a hard key, the license is effectively located on a USB dongle, and whichever machine has the key plugged in is able to read the license and make it available to users. 

In the case of soft licenses, the key is activated on a computer by making a digital fingerprint of the machine on which it is activated and locking the activation to this fingerprint.

This is important when using a virtual machine. If you have a dongle, the dongle must be visible to the virtual machine. If you are using a soft key, changes to the virtual machine, such as copying it to a new computer, will change the VM's fingerprint and irreversibly invalidate the license. Therefore, if you activate a soft license on a VM, you MUST deactivate the license prior to making any changes to the VM and reactivate once the changes are completed. Failure to do this will invalidate the license and support related to License invalidation due to VM changes are not covered by warranty or maintenance and may be chargeable.

Please see this article on license activation to find out more about activating and transferring licenses.

Graphics cards

The 4D viewer in Vision4D and the VR viewer in VisionVR are both highly dependent on access to the graphics hardware to perform. However, graphics support on VMs is somewhat patchy, with different virtualization platforms having a variety of support levels for a variety of device drivers. Problems with 3D rendering on VMs are therefore difficult to pin down and fix and are mostly dependent not on arivis support, but on the specific vendors for your GPU and virtualization software. If you are experiencing problems with GPUs on VMs arivis will try and support you as far as we can, but note that we may be limited in our ability to help by the the specific configuration of your system.

Data access

Vision4D and VisionVR both make extensive use of just-in-time loading to enable the software to be RAM independent. This means that for efficient processing the data should, as much as possible, be located as close the RAM and CPU as possible. VMs add an additional layer of separation between the physical hardware on which the data is stored and where it is processed and may therefore slow down read and write operations. The same holds for network storage.

Conclusions

VMs are, of course, very handy in a range of scenarios. Indeed, the arivis development team does use VMs extensively for testing in-house for these very reasons. However, users should be aware of the distinct differences in how VMs operate to ensure that they have a great user experience. arivis is keen to support users in whatever environment they find most useful to them, and making users aware of the consequences of running in such an environment is part of what the support team can do to ensure a great user experience. 

The arivis support team will always try to help users if they are experiencing issues linked to VMs, but you should be aware that our ability to support will be limited by your configuration, and issues caused by user error may not be covered by maintenance agreements and may therefore be chargeable.