With virtualization, software licensing is really complicated

Many a times licensing of software are overlooked in virtualization infrastructure. Virtualization actually complicate the licensing, accordingly CIOs and System Administrators should have some strategy or exercise to make sure that the organization has redeem the correct software licensing.

There are varieties of issues that can make licensing difficult in virtualized environment. One of the most common licensing issues is buying or purchasing several different license types in order to remain compliant. Few of the required license types are:
  • Hypervisor licenses, 
  • Management Server licenses, 
  • Managed server licenses, 
  • Guest OS Server licenses, 
  • Guest OS Client licenses, 
  • Application licenses, 
  • Application client licenses, etc.

A complicated licensing issue occurs when a Guest OS VM created on a host and immediately migrated to another host. In the same ways, new VMs can be created on a whim by anyone who has permissions. So, how CIOs and System Admins can keep up with the licensing requirements?

All the software vendors have their own unique way of licensing requirements. So it is CIO’s duty to make sure that you adhere to requirements of the software rather than following the set of guidelines. There are a few general strategies too that usually work.

Always pay attention socket-specific license requirements. It is common now that maximum of the hypervisor vendors base their licensing requirements as per-physical socket for hypervisor and management server.

If an Operating System vendor requires licensing for every user who accesses the server, that requirement doesn’t usually go away just because the server is running on virtual hardware. Whereas, vendors provide choices to purchase the client access licensing on either a per-user or per-device basis. Previously, companies use to purchase licensing on per-device basis, as that was a little less expensive. But today, with every user using multiple devices having user based licensing is a cost effective option.

If VMs are running free open source OS, otherwise the Guest OS on your VM must be licensed. Guest OS licensing policies vary widely so it is important to check with the vendor to examine the specific requirements.

Windows Server 2012 R2 licensing applies only to the host not on the VM. This host-level license applies to the VMs running on the host. For example: if an organization is running Windows Server 2012 R2 on VMware. Company obviously licenses the VMware Hypervisor, but company also has to purchase Windows Server License. This license will apply to the Windows VMs running on the VMware server. If a VM is migrated to a different VMware server, then the destination Windows Server licensed will apply to the VM. In other words, Windows Server VMs do not take their licensing with them while migrating from one host to another.

Virtualization management servers typically require licenses for each server that is being managed. For example if a company plan to use Microsoft System Center VMM (Virtual Machine Manager), then company will need a licenses for each host server they are planning to manage.

Mostly licensing is complicated in virtualized environments. CIOs should review the licensing periodically and make sure to check the requirements for library servers to ensure if there are any licenses required for software installed within an image that is used to create new VMs.

The Public Cloud Trust Deficit – What can CIO do to bridge it?

Public Cloud the power of accessing files from anywhere and on any device brings more scalability & effectiveness among employees or peers at very low cost. Public Cloud services include services like file sharing, e-mail, server hosting, and online office applications. Public Cloud services are basically for those who don’t really require a high level of infrastructure. But this doesn’t stop SMEs and big enterprises to use Public Cloud for their professional or official use. In fact some of the organizations are using public cloud services to make their daily operations more efficient.

Maximum CIOs says that security and controlling of public cloud is a big concern for them. Security factor is actually different for each company. For example a Government organization who handles individual’s documentation may have different sets of security protocols from Petroleum Company. So the decision of outsourcing the IT services to cloud provider is very crucial for a CIO. Because what works for an organization may not necessarily work the same for another. While considering the public cloud services the potential benefits are important but it is almost important to keep security objectives in mind.

But Public Cloud may provide some of the secure and scalable benefits, such as:

  • Department wise:
    CIO can easily avail public cloud services as per the department’s need. As public cloud / hybrid cloud services are offered as the way you use them and how much you use them. So easy to get ownership department wise.

  • Platform:
    Cloud computing is much more different from the traditional way of computing. Cloud as a platform enables a lot of automation and ease in your work. CIOs need to worry about managing the configuration control, security patches, system maintenance & fault management etc.

  • Resources Availability:
    With ultimate recovery and backups procedures cloud will never let your application down. Due to no geographical restriction, it becomes more robust. So, it’s more reliable where you want 0% downtime.

  • Mobility:
    Public cloud structure is actually designed in a way that you can use it from anywhere and on any device. You can log in from a smartphone and from your office PC too

These benefits also requires more monitoring and controlling for your data. As CIO is unaware from where he is accessing his file or where the image or backup of a VM is lying. There are a few recommended activates which you can perform with your public / hybrid:

  • CIOs should refer or check SLAs first before adopting public cloud. Even though Public Cloud SLAs have many term which are non-negotiable, leads to very less visibility and increase more security constraints.

  • To enhance the security, control and backup there are few third party tools available. Which CIOs can deploy in their hybrid/public cloud to get everything in single pane solution.