License Server
ThingsBoard Documentation
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What is ThingsBoard License Server?

The ThingsBoard License Server is a proprietary billing solution that allows ThingsBoard Professional Edition (TB PE) customers to easily purchase license keys online. The online payment processing is secured by Stripe, which allows both credit cards and wire transfer.

You may already know that TB PE supports pay-as-you-go subscriptions and perpetual license models. The License Server was introduced in mid-2019, based on our experience of billing first 500 TB PE clients, to bring improvements in the following areas:

  • Deploy anywhere. Before License Server, the pay-as-you-go subscription was available only on few marketplaces like AWS and Azure. It was not technically possible to deploy a pay-as-you-go subscription on premises or any other clouds, like Digital Ocean or Alibaba Cloud, although it was highly demanded from our customers. Now, you can launch your TB PE instance anywhere you like.

  • Simple upgrades. Migration between subscription plans was possible, but not as easy and straightforward as it should be. This process involved manual reconfiguration, DB backup/restore and obviously caused downtime. With License Server, this is done with just a few clicks and no downtime at all.

  • Smooth purchase process. We’ve added a possibility to pay with credit/debit card. Now you can easily purchase a yearly license online, without manual paperwork. This allows launching your instance in minutes. All invoices are automatically generated and available for download in the license portal in a PDF form.

  • Customer experience. Some cloud marketplaces are greedy for the customer’s data. So, it was hard for us to improve the customer satisfaction rate without direct communication with the client. Now we can have real-life feedback and, based on that info, make our products as customer-friendly as possible.

  • Cluster setup. With a modern microservices deployment approach, we added the ability to set up a single license key per all nodes in the ThingsBoard cluster. This minimizes efforts for cluster management and removes manual work required to add/remove nodes in the cluster. Now you can launch several cluster nodes in a floating mode and actual ThingsBoard processes are not related to physical hardware.

  • Distributors and Channel Partners. For ThingsBoard partners License server simplifies management of their clients. It is a new step toward deeper cooperation and trust. Each partner has dedicated coupon codes to track sales and provide benefits to end-users.
    With close-hand ability to order new licenses for end-users, the delivery time of a solution is reduced — extra expenses decrease respectively.

The License Server product is designed to be generic and may be used to sell any software products with the pay-as-you-go or perpetual license models. If you are interested to use it for selling your software, please contact us.

Product features

  • Pay-as-you-go subscriptions

License Server allows purchasing monthly or yearly subscriptions for ThingsBoard. See pricing for more details about available subscriptions. Once you purchase a subscription, you can flexibly upgrade or downgrade your subscription plan. By default, the subscription covers single ThingsBoard PE instance (server process). However, you can add more instances to the same subscription. This allows launching multiple instances that use same subscription credentials in one server cluster. This feature is very useful for container-based setups.

Pay-as-you-go subscriptions are convenient for small companies and start-ups that are getting started with the platform and would like to minimize upfront licensing costs. Most of the subscriptions are limited by the number of devices and/or assets you can create.

  • Perpetual fallback licenses

License Server allows purchasing perpetual fallback licenses. A perpetual fallback license is a license that allows you to use a specific version of the software without an active subscription for it. When purchasing a perpetual fallback license, you get one year of software updates included. After one year, you can continue using the platform. You can purchase software updates for the subsequent years for additional fee, typically 40% of the initial license cost.

A single perpetual fallback license covers a single ThingsBoard PE instance (server process). For example, if you like to run ThingsBoard PE in an HA mode, you will need at least two licenses.

  • Secure online payments via Stripe

License Server is collecting Payments via Stripe. This means we use best practices in terms of security and processing of transactions provided by the most popular online payment platform. ThingsBoard has no access to your credit card data. You can cancel your subscription at any time. ThingsBoard also provides the ability to download digital copies copy of the invoices.

  • Coupons

License Server allows the administrator to provision coupons. These coupons may be used by partners, distributors and for marketing campaigns.

  • Hardware agnostic licensing

License Server does not generate license keys based on hardware or VM parameters. License Server client issues periodic license check requests to the License Server. These requests validate that the subscription / perpetual license is valid and the number of launched instances does not exceed subscription threshold. See Architecture for more details.

Prerequisites

The License Server Client (e.g. your ThingsBoard PE instance) requires an internet connection to the host: license.thingsboard.io to issue license check requests. In case internet connection to the host is not available for more than 24 hours, License Server Client may shutdown ThingsBoard instance.

Architecture

The License Server provides REST API for the License Server clients to activate and check licenses.

  • Instance Activation flow

During the first launch of ThingsBoard PE, built-in License Server Client generates an “Activate Instance Request” to the License Server. This request contains the license key and version info about the current platform installation. License Server lookup the subscription info based on the license key and replies with the instance id, subscription plan data, and some magic bytes. License Client stores this information locally and uses instance id and some magic bytes for the next license check requests.

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License Client issues periodic license check requests to the License Server. If those requests are not successful for a configurable period of time (typically 24 hours), the license client will shut down the ThingsBoard PE instance. In case of a successful request, the client may receive an update to the subscription plan data. This may be caused by the update of the subscription plan.

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User Guide

  • Launching TB PE using pay-as-you-go subscription

  • Launching TB PE using perpetual license

  • Migrating from AWS IoT Marketplace

  • Upgrading your TB PE subscription

  • Moving ThingsBoard to another hardware instance