Microsoft Updates Virtualization Licensing

Microsoft (MSFT) loosens its Windows virtualization app licenses to benefit server farms, while VMware (VMW) and Cisco (CSCO) join the Microsoft partner hypervisor validation program.

Several virtualization initiatives from Microsoft are making headlines today, including updated licensing terms for Windows virtualization technology and the expansion of its Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP). Here's a roundup, with analysis and reaction from the tech blogs and news sites:

  • Microsoft announced that it is updating its software licensing terms for 41 server applications, waiving its previous 90-day reassignment rule, allowing customers to reassign licenses from one server to another within a server farm as frequently as needed. "For many customers, the change will reduce the number of licenses they need to support their IT systems, increase agility, and simplify the tracking of application instances or processors because customers now can count licenses by server farm instead of by server," the company says.
  • Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch says the new terms are more complex than they first appear. "Conceptually, the no-time-limit policy would be a boon to enterprises managing server farms and using virtualization as tool for server consolidation," Wilcox writes. "But contrary to Microsoft's pro-customer positioning, the first benefit is to the company." Wilcox says the limitations essentially prevent the moving of virtual machine servers from Windows to either Linux or ESX.

  • Alistair Croll at GigaOM says that with the changes in virtual machine licensing, Microsoft is "opening the door for hosting providers to reinvent themselves as true clouds ... By lifting licensing restrictions, Microsoft lets hosting providers provision and decommission servers far more frequently, allowing them to build true utility offerings around Microsoft's servers and painting themselves with cloud stripes."
  • On another front in Windows virtualization, VMware has joined Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP), according to Chris Wolf at The Burton Group. "This is a really big deal and both vendors should be congratulated on the work it took to make this happen," Wolf writes. "Once the news is made official, Microsoft applications and operating systems will be fully supported on VMware-based virtualization environments."
  • notes that Cisco (CSCO) has also joined the SVVP program. Alessandro Perilli believes this is a hint of bigger virtualization ambitions by Cisco, noting that "Cisco doesn't have any hypervisor so there's no reason to adhere this program."
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