RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

Feb 29 2008   12:50PM GMT

VMworld Europe 2008: Day Three: Breakout Session: Software Licensing Exposed

MikeLaverick MikeLaverick Profile: MikeLaverick

I attended this session mainly to meet two guys Chris Wolf (Burton Group) and Mike Dipetrillo (VMware). I’ve had email exchanges with Mike concerning various issue of external support, licensing and so on with other vendors. I’m hoping Mike will run an eye across a presentation I will be delivering for a UG in Charlotte, Carolina in April. I see Chris’s name all over the net presenting topics related to virtualization – I figured he was a personality on the virtualization circuit with whom I should be acquainted. Anyway, Mike did the scene setting but it was basically Chris is gig telling us all what’s nasty and bad about licensing in the world of virtualization. It certainly was an eye-opener for me – as someone who doesn’t really get that involved with the purchase and licensing of software. It was precisely because of this lack of exposure that I attended this session, so I could soak up the benefit of Chris’s impressive vendor-wide knowledge. I don’t know how he does it – as he said himself if you have insomnia problems, a 60-page licensing summary from a vendor is a great cure. 

What was interesting about this session is how 4-5 years on from when I first looked at VMware the software industry hasn’t really got to grips with this darn thing called virtualization especially our friends Microsoft. Expect a complete route and branch reshaping of the licensing policies from M$ with the release of Hyper-V. Not because M$ are going to make substantial cheaper to run their software products to run in a M$ VM, but to make it substantially simpler [well, we live in hope]. These changes should make it better for all customers regardless of what vPlatform you choose to adopt in your datacenter.  What was missing in this session was an assessment of VMware’s own per-socket licensing model, and how sockets based model has specific implications for ESX customers because of the VMotion CPU requirements. I’ve heard of some crazy stuff in the field because of this – like people removing factory fitted CPUs (because they don’t need the horse power right now) so they don’t have to license a socket they aren’t using. BUT, at the same keeping hold of them when they need them – for fear of introducing a CPU incompatibility by a later upgrade. Sounds a little crazy, and depending on your HW procurement model it shouldn’t be necessary.

Anyway, for products like SQL and Exchange MS 90-day movement prohibition with licensing is a number of things. Firstly, directly in conflict with principle of liberating yourself from your hardware with features like VMotion and Citrix Migrate (or even M$ own “Quick” migrate). Secondly, expensive if you foolish follow the letter of the law/EULA and lastly unenforceable.  Just in the legal world an unenforceable EULA is just an extra piece of unneeded legislation that benefits no-one. At this point Chris conceded that if he wasn’t careful he could be accused of promoting customers lying to Microsoft. I piped up to say that in the meantime – until M$ tidy up the mess they have created for themselves and their customers, that lying was both moral and legally indefensible – but being “economical with the truth” (a very British phrase) shouldn’t be a problem.

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