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License Management in the Cloud: Are you Flying Blind?

Posted by Justin Nemmers

1/14/13 11:18 AM

If I were to ask you how many copies of Red Hat Enterprise Linux you had in your virtual and physical environment, would you be able to answer that?  Not running RHEL?  Then how many copies of Windows Server are you running?  Oracle?  What about SQLServer?  Or JBoss?  Furthermore, how many of those licenses are deployed on virtual machines that are not actually running right now?

Cloud Software License Handcuffs
License management in the cloud can feel like handcuffs if not done correctly.

To determine these numbers, you can go out and do a large survey across every environment you have, adding up the licenses as you discover them.  Next, manually consolidate that information from all your different teams, and you’ll end up with one or more large spreadsheets that have all of the information you need to properly handle license negotiations with your vendors. Your counts will be roughly accurate until your admins provision some more instances, de-provision others, or install additional software on existing VMs. In short—and let’s be honest here—you have very little knowledge of your exact license usage real-time, or control over who is using them. A spreadsheet created manually, even assuming it’s 100% accurate, is simply a snapshot in time that is subject to rapid deprecation.

License management in the cloud has two parts: 

  1. You have to be able to identify, track, manage and control the licenses.
  2. You have to account for the different ways in which vendors license their software.

A discussion about software license management has to address how to create a model that fully addresses the entire lifecycle of software licenses, from identifying and tracking them to managing and controlling usage. I’ll discuss how various vendors need to license software in a future article.

First, let’s talk about the method you use to track software licenses, account for variations and keep up-to-date snapshots. Essentially, how do you create a fluid model that validates accurate counts and identifies usage without an ongoing effort? Tracking, identifying, managing, and controlling usage of licenses becomes much more important in the cloud because inaccurate counts and loss of control over license usage can significantly impact license agreements and operating expenses. Additionally, working across multiple cloud implementations can require investing much more time to manually identify, track, manage and control usage of software licenses.

It is clear that tracking software licenses has to move beyond an Excel spreadsheet or other manual systems, especially in the cloud.

The cloud causes us to rethink IT management as we’ve come to know it. To do it effectively requires advanced management tools—tools that solve problems in a manner that is conducive to your technology and process—but that also open the door for your IT teams to be more agile, and more responsive to the business that your team serves. Effective license management in the cloud is one specific area where most every Virtualization or Cloud Managemement (we just call it a Cloud Manager) vendor will totally fail you. Only one Cloud Manager product can effectively track those resources as they’re provisioned and decommissioned, and still allow you to dynamically adjust the method in which those licenses are tracked.

CloudBolt Software recognizes that software licenses only provide value when they’re running. CloudBolt C2 is the only Cloud Manager that provides a means to leverage utilization of licenses by accurately identifying, tracking, managing and controlling usage. For example, does a provisioned license on a stopped VM count against the pool total? C2 lets IT admin set those set or change those software policies, and control usage of software applications, and licenses. C2 can be used to control everything in the resource pool on demand, and fully manage the entire software license lifecycle: identify, track, allocate, provision, recycle or decommission.

Built-in license management in the C2 Enterprise Edition makes it possible to seamlessly and effortlessly track license usage across environments and clouds.  You will know immediately what your provisioned and actual turned-on license count is whenever you check. You can even enable the tracking and usage of different software versions in your environment. With a powerful and customizable tool like C2, the possibilities are limitless. Don’t fly blind with your license usage. With CloudBolt C2, you’ll finally have complete situational awareness, and will be flying blind no more.

Up next:  Software license agreements (SLAs) from different vendors have a big effect on how you track those licenses and how you use them in the cloud.

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Topics: Feature, Cloud Manager, License Management