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Cloud Standards and Software License Management

Cloud computing is changing how IT managers are running their infrastraucture and giving them more flexibility in running their workloads. Now they can virtualize them and create portable images of their systems and services. Theses portable workloads can be realized as vApps and serveral servers can be deployed as a single package to a cloud as needed. Each package may contain several products including operating systems, middleware, database servers and web servers, all of which have various license entitlements.

 

This creates some new challenges for IT management to understand these entitlements of the products they have aquired based on the various licensing models.  It also makes it challenging to understand if they are in compliance or have exceeded their contracted entitlements. If a customer creates a workload to be moved into a cloud environment can they easily determine if they are in compliance? This is made more difficult as each vendor has a diffent licensing model which they have negotiated with the customer.

 

To help solve this problem the DMTF announced at the end of February a new Software License Management  Incubator.  “The Software License Management Incubator will develop whitepapers focused on the challenges identified to enable the industry to manage licensed software product(s) and product usage, and to move closer to interoperable solutions.  The Incubator will identify real world use cases and scenarios, and capture existing or proposed solutions that identify licensed software products and product usage based on a common set of definitions.” This work is being dirven by many of the leading names in software development including CA Technologies, Citrix, Microsoft, IBM, Novell, and VMware. The other important aspect of this activity is the involvement of customers like JP Morgan Chase who bring real world use cases and issues to be solved.

 

One of the possible outcomes would be to enhance the licensing metadata already descibed in OVF (Open Virtualization Format), the first cloud standard, to add additional information regarding the entitlements for the licensed products within a workload. This could make it easier for IT managers and tools to be able to understand the entitlements required before a workload is deployed. Another issue being discussed is using a standardized tagging mechanisim such as ISO standards that are being worked on in TagVault.org.

 

This is an important issue for the industry to address. Leaders from IT customers and key software development organizations will work in the upcoming months to complete this phase.  I expect that once the initial work is done in the incubator, recommendations for enhancements to existing standards and proposals for new standards will be delivered.  Ultimately this will enable standardized license information and better tools to ensure customer license compliance.

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