I was reading through a recent article about the new Java 7 release, which contradicts Oracle’s current support statement with respect to licensing. The License from Oracle exclusively states Java 7 is only supported on those hypervisors Oracle currently supports: Oracle VM, VirtualBox, Solaris Containers, and Solaris LDOMs except where noted.    That last phrase is rather tricky, so where do we find such notes. Is the noted the support document stating that they support Oracle products within a VMware VM? Or is it somewhere else in the license? This leaves out all major hypervisors: Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft. If you cannot find a note saying things are supported, somewhere.

This implies quite a bit for the future of Java support within most PaaS environments being built today. In essence, they cannot upgrade to Java 7. Which means they may fall behind. This would impact OpenShift, Amazon, Google, CloudFoundry, SalesForce, and others.

We have various licensing issues to worry about today, some are:

  • Oracle Licensing which impacts Tier 1 applications
  • Microsoft Licensing for desktops that appears to change every 3 months
  • Microsoft Licensing of server VMs
  • RedHat and other Linux Licenses that limit use of virtual machines
  • Apple’s Licensing scheme to keep its OS on it’s hardware
  • Software that explicitly does not support virtualization
  • Software that licenses by the physical socket in a virtual environment
  • VMware’s vRAM licensing scheme

I see all these licensing issues as an attempt at a land-grab instead of promoting the use of virtualization and cloud technologies. Given all these and other licensing issues, I need an attorney to help we wade through what I can and cannot do. An attorney that is now part of my virtualization administration team so that I do not cross any lines. As without such a review, I believe nearly everyone who virtualizes has violated somebody’s EULA just by the fact that they virtualize something.

If licensing is too hard to understand, most people will just vote with their feet, which means companies that try to insist on draconian licensing terms to maintain their land-grab approach will end up with less sales than if they embraced virtualization and made it easier. We often say air travel is ‘welcome to the fee filled skies’, licensing with respect to virtualization is approaching that as well. We are being nickled-and-dimed  with new fees, new license restrictions, and new support restrictions all the time.

There are even some vendors that still require you to run their software on physical hardware to prove a problem is not the virtual environment before they will even look at the issue. Others still tie licensing to physical locks such as dongles or physical CPU IDs, Mac addresses, etc.

I find all these support and licensing issues nothing more than a land-grab to attempt to lock people in to their product line. I may be brand conscious when I buy hardware and software, but I do not just buy one companies products. This just does not work within the modern datacenter. I also rather not have all my eggs defended by just one company, but rather have the best of breed of products. But to get this, it requires a lawyer to make sense of all the licensing agreements in place.

In order for the cloud to move forward, companies need to drop the land-grab approach and support everything within a virtual environment and deploy usable license agreements and license enforcement modules. In addition, Licensing should not cripple, delay, or otherwise impact my deployment of Tier 1 applications. Oracle’s Java 7 license and VMware’s vRAM licensing is doing just that, delaying deployment of Tier 1 applications.

Licensing is still a major issue within the virtual environment and requires a lawyer now be part of the IT team. I call on the vendors to make licensing easy, it sells more of your products when it is. Realize that a single vendor’s approach to licensing WILL impact other vendor’s such as the Java 7 license impacting all the PaaS plays that use Java.

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Edward Haletky (376 Posts)

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

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