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VMware Brings Flexibility to Virtual Server Licensing

Of all the news in VMware's vSphere-related announcements this week, the one item that may have the biggest long-term customer impact is VMware's move to per-VM licensing for vCenter management products. We applaud this move, as we believe that virtual servers deserve a licensing model that provides users with the same kind of agility and flexibility that is delivered by the technology itself.

Applications running on virtual servers are tied not to the underlying hardware, but to the virtual machine (VM) they run on. As the industry moves towards a cloud computing model, applications will become even less dependent on physical hardware. Indeed, users running applications on VMs at a remote location (whether in the cloud or not) will seldom have visibility to the physical server(s) on which they are hosted. It is for this reason that we believe that a per-cpu (or per-core) licensing model is no longer suitable for VM-based applications.

We believe that the VM itself - including guest operating system and applications - is a much better unit of measure of the value that a user receives when running solutions on a virtual server. And as the platform of choice for many cloud-based applications, a VM can be tied to a specific business service, which will allow service providers to track and measure the delivery of user-specific services to specific VM deployments.

But a VM-driven licensing model has other advantages as well. For example, users can more easily forecast the average and peak number of VMs they will run in any given time period, than they can predict the number of underlying processor cores those VMs will require. VMs can be fired up when needed and shut down when they're not, meaning that users can theoretically (assuming the licensing model accommodates this) pay only for the true utility they receive by running certain VMs only part of the time. VMware's approach of licensing based on the "average maximum" number of VMs for any given time period should make this theory a reality.

We realize that most major software vendors have long operated on a hardware-based licensing model for their products, and that many vendors and end users will be resistant to change. But this particular change makes too much sense to resist any longer. We therefore believe that VMware's shift to a per-VM licensing model - even if only for vCenter management products initially - is a huge step in the right direction. We hope that major software players in VMware's ecosystem will follow suit, and strongly consider a per-VM licensing model for their products. In the long run, both the user and the virtualization industry can only benefit.

  • Premiered: 07/13/10
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): Licensing Server Virtualization virtual machines VMWare


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