Virtualisation is cheap - you're kidding

I raised the question about virtualisation in production a few daya ago because I’ve been researching an article for Computer Weekly about licensing following a podcast interview I conducted with Gartner’s Alexa Bona.

I’m sure there are people running products like VMWare and Xen in production. But, I’ve heard from a number of readers that software licensing can be a deal breaker.

Why? Well, some companies like Oracle don’t recognise software partitions:

soft partitioning is not permitted as a means to determine or limit the number of software licenses required for any given server.

If you decide that it would be a good idea to buy an eight-way server then use VMWare to deploy the Oracle 10g database server on two of those processor, Oracle will charge you for all eight. Your licence fee is four times as much.

It’s not just Oracle. Look at how IBM licences Lotus Domino:

Sub-capacity licensing is currently not offered for Lotus Domino software except for Lotus Domino for the IBM z/OS operating system

IBM uses the term processor value units to describe its processor-based licensing.

Lotus Domino server licensing is determined by the processor value units associated with the physically available and active capacity of each machine on which the Lotus Domino software is deployed

Both Oracle and IBM’s licensing seem to reduce the value of server consolidation and virtualisation. Sure you reduce on hardware costs and improve server efficiency. But you end up paying through the nose in licence fees too. So I wonder how the people running VMWare or Xen in production handle such licensing?

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What I'd find useful is some names of software companies who DO recognise software partitioning; going the virtualisation route may be economic (though not always practicable, of course) if changes are made to apps or DBs. Or (apart from the open-source guys) do they all charge the same way?

Good point Michael. This is worth looking into. When I last checked, and that was a week ago, our friends at Microsoft offered a tiered licensing scheme for Windows 2003 Server.

Enterprise Edition allows you to run, at any one time, one instance of the server software in a physical OS environment and up to four instances of the server software in virtual OS environments on a particular server.

Datacenter Edition allows unlimited number of virtual instances.

Now it would be good to find out what other software companies offer in the way of licensing on soft partitions.

Microsoft's second class support for virtualisation Microsoft must support third-party virtualisation. For a virtual server to be treated the same way as physical hardware, it needs to be certified, just as Dell, IBM and HP machines are certified for Windows Server.
Tackle green IT, make virtualisation affordable Virtualisation is a way to make IT green. I hope IBM, Microsoft and Oracle change their server virtualisation policies to encourage wider adoption, rather than see it as a quick win to tax users
VMWare London Symposia: let's tackle the issues We need results. And until the biggest names in the software business are on board, server virtualisation is going to be marginalised.
In regards to Cliff Saran's post on virtualisation and software licensing, this might be of interest.

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