All Replicated instances are installed with a single license file. The license file is connected to a release channel, and the installation will receive updates when a new release is promoted to that channel. This process has worked pretty well so far and continues to be the best option for most installations.
But there are some customers that choose to install two different instances, one for production and one as a canary server. Before they install any updates on the production server, large enterprise customers will often want to install it on a test instance so they can verify it and prepare for the upgrade. This is a requirement for some customers who have well-defined change management processes. Before multi-channel licenses, this process was complex for both the software vendor and the enterprise IT administor because it involved managing two separate licenses.
Additionally, another use case of multi-channel licenses is to enable a software vendor who wants to offer multiple release cadences to their customers. Using this feature, a single license can be created in a quarterly and a monthly release channel, and the enterprise IT administrator can select the cadence that best meets their requirements.
We've introduced a new feature in Replicated 2.9.0 that allows a single license to be assigned to multiple release channels. If you visit the Vendor Portal and select a customer to manage, the "Channel" dropdown has been replaced with a "Channels" item. You can still select a single channel for the license and there will be no changes to the end customer installation experience. But the ability to select more than one channel does change the installation experience a little:
Clicking the Edit button will open a modal allowing the license to be assigned to as many channels as you'd like:
When assigning a license to multiple channels, you are required to pick a default channel. This will be automatically selected when your application is installed and also will be used when installing on older versions of Replicated that do not support the multi-channel license feature.
Admin Console Installation
When an on-prem instance is installed using a license that belongs to more than one channel, a new screen will be displayed immediately after the license is uploaded:
The Admin Console will show the available channels for the license. It's now possible to edit the description of the release channel to write something useful here.
Once a channel is selected, all updates that are shipped to that channel will be installed on this server.
The customer can visit the License page of the Admin Console to change the channel later. If the new release channel is at an older release than the original channel, Replicated will not downgrade the instance, but will wait for a newer release to be available. Our documentation has more details about how the change channel feature works in different scenarios.