Licensing requirements for multi-core processors and server virtualization

Multi-core processors and server virtualization advancements have left licensing doors open to interpretation by vendors. Know your licensing requirements and limitations.

Barb Goldworm
Changes in CPUs have stirred up many licensing issues, as has virtualization. In the past, software was generally licensed per processor or per CPU, which was often the same thing. Now with multi-core, the question is should software be licensed by the core or by the whole processor. Different vendors have responded to this issue differently, so it's important to check the licensing restrictions for each vendor and product.

From a hardware perspective, licensing multi-core processors as one processor would create incentive for users to move to multi-core, and save in licensing costs. But of course, this causes problems for software vendors, who would lose significant revenue.

Virtualization has many of the same issues. As users consolidate from multiple physical servers to one physical server with mulitple virtual machines, what happens to the licensing? Is the software licensed by physical server or number of virtual machines? Also, is the license tied to a physcial server? This becomes an issue for availablity and load balancing (as with VMware's High Availability (HA) and Dynamic Resource Scheduler (DRS) products), as guest virtual machines get moved (vmotioned) from one physical server to another. These licensing issues are currently being battled out, for example, between Microsoft and VMware.

Technology trends in processors and servers

 Home: Introduction
 1: Multi-core processor benefits and trends
 2: Going green in the data center
 3: Licensing for multi-core processors and virtualization

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Barb Goldworm
Barb Goldworm is President of Focus Consulting, a research, analyst and consulting firm focused on systems and storage. She has spent 30 years in technical, marketing, industry analyst and senior management positions with IBM, Novell, StorageTek, Enterprise Management Associates, and multiple successful startups. She chairs the Blades and Virtualization Summit conference on blades and virtualization, and has been one of the top three ranked analyst/knowledge expert speakers at Storage Networking World. Barb has authored numerous business and technical white papers and articles and has just finished a book, Blades Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs. Email Barb for more information.
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