Microsoft Relaxes Virtualization Licensing Terms

Previously, Microsoft's policy only allowed customers to move applications beetween servers once every 90 days, and solution providers say this week's change will make it easier for them to adopt Microsoft's virtualization technology.

"This shows that Microsoft really 'gets' virtualization and is working to make the licensing friendly to their customers," said Matt Scherocman, vice president of consulting services at PCMS IT Advisor, a Cincinnati-based solution provider and Gold partner. "This change means that clients can move virtual software images from server to server without any negative licensing repercussions."

Solution providers have long been clamoring for Microsoft to let customers buy licenses for the number of running virtual instances they have for a particular application, and to drop the restriction on moving the license from one machine to another. The ability to freely move applications between servers makes it simpler to perform hardware maintenance, balance workloads, and to provide redundancy.

"This makes sense and#91;becauseand#93; the licensing will now allow organizations to failover their virtual sessions back and forth as necessary," said Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, an Oakland, Calif.-based solution provider and Microsoft Gold partner. "The old way of only allowing an organization to failover every 90 days just didn't make sense at all -- when you failover, you failover."

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The change, effective Sept. 1, pertains to 41 Microsoft server applications, including SQL Server 2008 Enterprise edition, Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 Standard and Enterprise editions, Dynamics CRM 4.0 Enterprise and Professional editions, Office SharePoint Server 2007, and System Center products.

For customers that deploy applications on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Hyper-V Server or third-party virtualization platforms, Microsoft is now offering technical support for 31 server applications. Chris Ward, senior solutions architect at GreenPages Technology Solutions, Kittery, Me., sees this as a move that benefits the virtualization market as a whole.

"Now customers won't be restricted from utilizing VMware's VMotion or the LiveMigrate functionality from XenServer and Virtual Iron," said Ward. "I think we've all known that as soon as Hyper-V was available that Microsoft would magically support virtualizing these servers and services."