back to article Microsoft slackens VM licensing rules

Microsoft will relax its virtual machine licensing policy to make it easier for businesses to move a VM freely about physical servers. The widely expected change will be implemented at the start of next month. It will apply to 41 server applications on the MS roster, including the enterprise version of SQL Server 2008, …


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  1. Mike

    Too Little Too Late

    Virtualization is just the latest buzzword for business, right along with green computing. However, most of the players who have opted to go down this road are realizing the the benefits do not outweigh the costs, and a great number of them are shelving their virtualization and green computing plans and are going back to work.

    At my company we started down that road, then realized that we would never reach our stated virtualization goals, with software products on top of x86 systems. There are however two places in my company where virtualization is done properly. One is that big ass mainframe in the back room that I have been trying to get rid of for 5 years, and the other is our AIX server farm. I don't have many nice things to say about either AIX or IBM, but on this subject they are the only real player. Just a really obnoxious buy-in to play in their game.....

  2. yeah, right.


    As usual, their EULA allows them to change their minds at any time, without going through the usual "legal contract" rigamarole of offer-acceptance-consideration. So although they've now graciously allowed you to do what you can do with other products, there's no guarantee they won't change their mind once they have used their monopoly to yet again crush any competition.

    Avoid the hassle. Don't allow yourself to get locked in.

  3. Jack Harrer

    Re: Too Little Too Late

    Yes and not Mike. More and more often new implementations are terribly complicated with multiple servers interconnected in spaghetti-like fashion. Very often those little buggers do mostly nothing or have some batch jobs scheduled at specific times. Those are perfect candidates for VM. Preferably on some flavour of Linux to save on costs (licensing, memory usage when idle, SAN storage, etc.). This way you can have your kick-ass mainframe running e.g. SAP and some helper application servers virtualised. That can save some serious cash. Also there's an ease of backup and upgrades - you can just happily move all machines to new server, when needed.

    But generally I agree with you - VM is another buzzword. It is useful in hands of techies but management just "don't get it".

  4. Anonymous Coward

    @ Mike

    Sorry Mike, but you're talking out of your *ahem* "ass" or, as should be correctly spelt, ARSE.

    The fundamental technology has been there for years (the 60's) and since VMware took on the mantle of x86 virtualization champions 10 years ago has become more viable to the industry as a whole. If it wasn't, then the top Fortune 100 companies wouldn't be using it. You certainly wouldn't see M$ trying to hop onto the bandwagon...

    As for your comment about "green computing", yes, I can see why we wouldn't want to reduce power consumption by having several virtual machines running on one physical server instead of loads. Especially if I can run IBM servers running POWER processors... one application, one server, one HUGE power and air con bill... not to mention the amount of real-estate you'll need.

    I suggest your company look at your "goals" again, however this time, do it without your head shoved up your arse.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The dog catching up with the tail

    Really, this is just Microsoft removing a clause in their license that has been rendered arcane by the paradigm shift of virtualisation.

    Because, as much as they may wish to think they can, there's simply no way they can track the movement of VMs through a VMotion-enabled virtual host cluster.

    This is a non-story. Certainly nothing worth winding up the Twat-o-tron engine with its oh-so-funny dollared rendering of Microsoft.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I've done it... with linux

    I've gone virtual on an old P4 1.5GHz, with 512MB or RAM and a 120GB HDD... not for any of the normal reasons, but so I can have an emergency failover for another server... it works nicely, allowing the server to run as smoothly as it did previously, but with another server on-demand on the same hardware (and we all know that on-demand is another buzz-phrase)

    And of course, being linux it all just works with no licensing issues and it runs fine on hardware that was being scrapped as being too old (there's a win98 coa on the side!!)

  7. Karl Swelling

    Advanced POWER Virtualization / PowerVM

    We now run all our SAP, Oracle, and other Unix apps on completely virtualized AIX LPARs, including using micro partitioning and VIOS for every LPAR (even prod). We went from 6 racks of Sun and HP servers to just 2 half-empty racks of IBM servers. Advanced POWER Virtualization / PowerVM is great. We are now going to migrate our mainframe to just one more rack of POWER6 servers.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't as new as it sounds

    I dug around this area extensively in 2006, and based much of this on the Microsoft white paper "Licensing Microsoft Server Products with Microsoft Virtual Server R2 and Other Virtual Machine Technologies”. Note that you need the 31 page document, and not the 11 page document of the same title.

    I quote from this document “You may run any instance of Windows Server 2003… …on those servers, regardless of the device on which those instances were first created or are currently stored.”

  9. Fab

    To Mike..

    A few people have already responded to your post but I feel so strongly about how wrong you are that I feel compeled to chip in too.

    Sure any business that has such things as "Virtualisation Goals" is doomed to failure. VM is a tool. You shouldnt have goals to use tools. Same can be said about SaaS , offshoring or other trends.

    You should be looking at solving problems and if VM is the most cost effective tool for the job then you should use it, but the tool shouldnt drive your business.

    We use VM effectively. We have two servers serving a total of 9 VM machines. Each machine has fairly light use, ie document management, source control, fault management etc. So for us VM has meant that we can keep things managable by having the different functions on different VM machines, yet dont have the hardware costs , rack usage or power consumption issues associated with 9 real machines.

    We also use VM for development and testing.

    I'm not advocating that everyone should use VM, I am just pointing out that its a good tool and certainly not a gimmic.

    Your "Virtualisation Goals" is the problem. You should have goals that reflect business objectives like reduce cost and increase uptime. VM may offer the answer but maybe not, maybe the answer is upgrading hardware, or using a SaaS service or something.

    As for the actual topic, it was only a matter of time before M$ acknowledged that licensing needs to be done differently with the advent of large scale adoption of VM.

  10. Geoff Mitchell

    @ Mike

    I have literally dozens of customers who have successfully implemented virtualisation.

    One recently went down from 44 old servers to 4 new ones, using VMware - VMotion on shared storage. Performance is up, the refresh cost less than 50% of a non-virtual refresh and the maintenance costs are a fraction of what the customer was originally looking at.

    As for the mainframes and AIX, I'm keeping food on my table and clothing my family by taking these dinosaurs out of customers' data centres and migrating them to X86 platforms. It's old school to think that SAP, Oracle etc cannot run well - and cost effectively on anything but big iron. Replacing Sun/HP Unix with AIX is out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    Even Oracle runs Oracle and hosts Oracle on X86. Watch your back...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Virtual Desktop?

    The true litmus for virtualisation is consolidating Microsoft licensing cost without increasing license management overhead or license risk exposure.

    When the posters above truly mature into this technology, they will find value in what VMWare calls "Virtual Desktop Infrastructure". Those posters should then find that the Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) connection license is the only* legal way that they can run virtual instances of Microsoft's Desktop Windows OS (VECD is downgraded to allow XP to be deployed) under their Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Further, they should find that VECD is a per end user device license (including per public Internet terminal) and not a per virtual image license and that VECD costs more (becomes a different class of VECD) if the accessing end user device is not a Microsoft Windows based PC. Ultimately those posters should find a number of other caveats, that I won't spoil for your (ask your Reseller), which should help to remove the value that they thought they had once found.

    * A Google search will show that one US hardware vendor has sold Microsoft Windows XP OEM licenses based on the server hardware/BIOS serial numbering that was to eventually be used for the Virtual Server Software that would run the Desktop OS images.

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