With virtualized servers, software licensing became much more complex. Software vendors donï¿¼t always have clear rules governing how many times an application can be installed on a server that might be used for multiple instances of the same server OS (say, one for quality assurance and one for production) and, in some cases, do not distinguish well between the physical computer license and the ï¿¼instancesï¿¼ of an OS.One analyst observes that vendors have a strong incentive not to make virtual licensing too easy -- or, more to the point, too cheap. Many employ various mixes of per-instance and per-CPU licensing, and it is also common to build "license enforcement code into their software that prevents multiple instances from running on a single physical machine."
Obviously, it helps to read software licensing agreements carefully before embarking on a server virtualization project. It is also important, however, to test software in a realistic virtualized setting to check for license-enforcement gotchas.
Don't Miss: NEW! Virtualization How-To Center
This isn't just a matter of avoiding IT management headaches and project delays. When a company violates a licensing agreement -- intentionally or otherwise -- it is also violating the law. Critics routinely (and accurately) slam enforcement groups like the Business Software Alliance for bullying and heavily fining small businesses that may have no idea they are stepping over the line.
There are plenty of ways that server virtualization can boost your company's bottom line. Cutting corners on software licensing rules definitely is not one of them.