CiRBA hones software licensing for clouds

One of the joys of virtualization is the potential for saving rack space and energy from using fewer physical servers.

However, the savings may be nothing if the organization isn’t disciplined about where it places its software. Thanks to complicated licencing rules for virtual environments, what one hand gives the other can take away.

To help IT departments, Toronto-based CiRBA Inc. has just released its Software Licence Control module for the company’s Capacity Control Console, which it says will optimize virtual machine placement in any infrastructure.
(CiRBA’s Software Licence Control module helps optimize VM location)

“By putting VMs in the right places and minimizing the number of hosts needed, you can save a lot of money on software,” said Andrew Hillier, CiRBA’s chief technology officer and co-founder.

The problem, he said in an interview, is that increasingly data centre software licences a physical server to host an unlimited number of VMs. So to save money, organizations have to ensure workloads are restricted to licenced severs.

The licencing module determines the best locations for licenced VMs and ensures they stay on designated physical servers.

In testing, Hillier said, one customer with several hundred physical Windows and Linux servers in a cloud environment was able to cut the number of Windows servers roughly in half.

James Alexander, senior vice-president of Info-Tech Research of London, Ont., said software licencing in virtualized environments “is a huge issue.”

It can be particularly problematic in organizations that have hybrid cloud infrastructures, he said.

“Trying to understand what to provision where and what to pay for and now to monitor and meter all that is just an enormous task,” he said.

Info-Tech has a consulting division that does this and saves customers on average $80,000 a year, he added. But good orchestration software may do much of the licence control work for an organization.

The licence control module needs CiRBA’s Control Console, now in version 7, which analyzes virtual and cloud environments and recommends where to put workloads and how much resources to give them.

The Web-based console supports VMware, KVM and IBM PowerVM environments.

CirBA is sold on a subscription basis, with pricing determined by the number of systems being analyzed, the platform and the duration (in years) of the license agreement.

The company says licences can range from approximately $100,000 for 1,000 targets (physical workloads or VMs) to over $1,000,000 for larger enterprise environments. Typical license terms range from three to five years in duration.

The Software Licence Control module can be bought up-front or paid for from a share of savings, what CiRBA calls a shared benefit model.

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