Server virtualization necessitates a change in licensing perceptions

When it comes to virtual server environment, licensing misconceptions still prevail within the Indian CIO community. Ganesh Mahabala, the regional director for VMware India and SAARC region feels that the scenario is changing. What are the licensing issues associated with virtualization solutions from an Indian context?
There are many perceptions related to software licensing when it comes to the transition from a physical to virtual environment. When you migrate to a virtual environment, people have a perception that the licensing will change.

For example, the general perception is that there is a reduction in number of licenses if you virtualize and constrain your servers. While this may be true in some cases, it may not be valid for others. The licensing model might have to be changed in such cases. Hence awareness levels within the CIO community still need to increase. In a virtual environment, you need not have the need to add more licenses than in an equivalent physical environment — it can be equal or lower.

There is a general perception that there is a reduction in number of licenses if you virtualize and constrain your servers. While this may be true in some cases, it may not be valid for others.
, Are there any common applications (or platforms) which create licensing issues when used in a virtualized server environment?
In a virtualized server environment, the first user expectation is about how licensing works on an operating system. For example, Microsoft earlier used to work on the one license per server licensing model. Now the company has changed its licensing policies to accommodate virtual environments. If an organization has a virtual environment and an enterprise edition, it can run a single license for up to four virtual machines.

Now the interesting aspect to note here is that the buyer should be aware of these pricing models. This means that if an organization is moving from a physical to virtual environment, it should assess all its applications. Then the business should consult its application vendors to evaluate licensing models for virtual environments. This is a very critical aspect that can bring down licensing costs and drastically change dynamics. What are the other aspects to be remembered on licensing front when devising a server virtualization strategy?
Plan, architect and deploy the virtualized environment very carefully. Look at each component separately, just as you will assess for determining server architecture or physical server deployment architecture. Have the architecture and implementation master plan ready before you transform everything to a virtual datacenter.

Another pre-stage approach used by us is known as "explore, expand and standardize". During the explore stage, you deploy licensing on non mission-critical applications. So you essentially move such applications to the virtual environment to understand how server virtualization operates. After this phase, it's time to virtualize mid-tier applications. After this is over, standardize to the mission-critical applications.

So the important step is to classify your non mission-critical and mission-critical applications. Once this is over, look at how different licensing policies work and how you can best optimize them. Get into the deployment mode after determining these aspects.

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