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Everything is virtual someday (Welcome to "The Matrix")

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The Matrix

“Kevin, why are you bringing up Virtuality?”

I think you mean “Virtualization”. 

Geez!

I’m bringing it up because there has been a cool announcement about Virtual Machine Technology from Microsoft – specifically around licensing.

“What is this Virtual Machine Technology of which you speak?”

From the Microsoft Virtual PC – FAQ page:

A. Virtual machine technology applies to both server and client hardware. Virtual machine technology allows multiple operating systems to run concurrently on a single machine. In particular, the Virtual PC and Virtual Server products allow one or more legacy operating systems to run on the same computer system as the current Windows operating system. Today, many older x86-based operating systems are supported by Virtual PC and Virtual Server. Virtual PC for Mac allows for one or more Windows operating systems to run on the Macintosh operating system, allowing users to run a Windows operating system and Windows applications on a Mac.
 
Also, here’s a description of what makes up a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk).

“But what about licensing?”

“Effective with the release of the December 2005 PUR, customers will be able to take advantage of new flexible licensing use rights impacted by virtualization technology. Apart from per processor server licensing, all other Microsoft servers will no longer specify the number of times the software can be installed and used on a server. Rather, each license enables customers to run a certain number of instances of the software on a server at a time.”

Ah yes.  As I read it, we’re clarifying and simplifying how software is licensed in a virtual environment.  For example – if I buy a product (a “Software License”), I can now legally install a specified number of virtual “instances” of that software in virtual machines, as  long as all of those instances from that software license are running on the same server.

The updates also allow you to store unlimited numbers of “non running” instances of virtual machines on file servers or storage media, so you can easily run them on “ANY of your licensed servers”. (emphasis is mine)

For example, if you have purchased Windows Server 2003, you can run it as the host OS on a server, AND you can run any number of instances of that product on that server.  As long as you have one software license per physical server (and note that “each hardware partition or blade is a separate physical hardware system, and therefore a separate server”), you can run as many virtualized instances as you want.   That’s huge!

There are some limitations and other considerations (when AREN’T there?), so you’ll want to go through the information carefully to understand what applies to you.  In particular you’ll want to look into what version of the “Product Use Rights” (PUR) you’re covered under.  You may have to update some licenses to be covered this way.

“Why is Microsoft doing this?”

Well… think of the possibilities in the near future with virtualization!  It’s exciting!  I’d like to have a big server or several blades with processing power to spare… So when I suddenly need to add more power, or if one of my “servers” (likely virtual) has problems, I have a hyperactive supervisor (heck, let’s call it a “Hypervisor”… because that’s what Microsoft is calling it) dynamically launch additional “instances” of machines that can take on the required workload. 

“Sweet!”

Sweet!

Here is the announcement, and the  Virtualization Licensing Brief for your reading enjoyment.

Questions?  Give me a comment, or contact me.

 

 

 

  • Hi.
    Have now read announcment several times, but as I understand You can still install and run for "free" maximum 4 instances (running) on Windows 2003 R2 Enterprise or Longhorn Datacenter server. Not on Windows 2003 Std/Ent.

    If i have Windows 2003 server host and running 5 instances W2k3 Std (as guest, and allways active) I still need 1+5 W2k3 licenses?
    Or will be it changed in Dec. more "universal".

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