By Patrick Gunn, Vice President Sales EMEA, iQuate

Later this year Microsoft will move to a per-core licensing model for Windows Server 2016, a change that’s sure to cause some head-scratching among software asset managers as they set about counting cores instead of CPU’s or Servers inside increasingly complex data centers.

Microsoft argues that this model for Windows Server 2016 provides licensing metrics that make it easier to calculate what customers owe and flexibility in licensing that grows in a controlled fashion, but cynics might say that it’s simply a way of rebalancing lost licensing costs and increasing their revenue. It facilitates a pricing structure that grows as the customers’ data center capacity grows, but whether it makes life easier for customers is a moot point.

Microsoft, are following along the path built by Oracle and IBM, adjusting licensing terms to keep up with a fast-changing IT landscape. Hardware manufacturers have transformed the data center with multi-core CPUs and multi-threading, further compounded by the evolution of virtualization and clustering technologies.

Fewer CPUs producing more capacity at a lower cost spurred software vendors to do something because they were potentially losing licensing revenue. So they have moved from CPU to core licensing, and, in the case of IBM, sub-capacity licensing, and who knows where next………

Granular challenge with Windows Server 2016

The spin software vendors are putting on it – that a more granular view ensures you only pay for what you use and they support controlled growth – seriously underestimates the challenge that software asset managers face. More granular licensing metrics demands a more granular understanding of the how the software is installed on the infrastructure.

If you have a Microsoft or Oracle cluster, for example, you have to license every single core in that cluster and understand the hardware and virtual infrastructure dependencies. It’s the only way you are going to achieve an accurate view of your licensing position. The hard fact of life is that most organizations are using basic tools that are ill equipped for the new landscape, let alone new software licensing models.

Most IT inventory tools come from the hardware asset management world, developed before virtualization and clustering came to the fore, so it’s no surprise that they struggle in the today’s modern data center and tomorrow’s bi-modal environments. Many are designed purely for specific inventory operating systems and/or platforms and are prone to mixing up CPU’s with cores with threads in virtualized estates.

These tools often come as part of a vendor package with other system management solutions and only work with their software. So the confusion is compounded in clusters that involve multiple applications and operating systems from different vendors. A comprehensive inventory capability simply cannot be achieved.

Next-generation tools

The upshot is that I have seen organizations as much as 30 per cent out in their license calculations and end up having to paying millions in un-planned licence spend. You need next-generation tools for a next-generation job, and that’s where we at iQuate come in.

Because iQuate was built for this next generation, our agentless, fast, lightweight and accurate solution can carry out discovery and dependency mapping across software from multiple vendors in complex virtualized and clustered environments. We then take this data and reference it to our maintained libraries. This cleansing process ensures we can correct any operating system anomalies and reveal the right number of cores and CPUs across all your infrastructure in any environment. You are better able to make an assessment of your software licensing position with a much higher level of accuracy.

I stress that this is not just a challenge around Microsoft deployments – all the leading vendors are moving or have moved to new licensing models. Unless you react to the change you risk exposing your organization to vendor audits and unplanned over-spending.

It really is time to get a clear view of your data center estates, not just for asset management, but to support infrastructure optimization and consolidation strategies. You need to able to map relationships and push the data into whatever use case you have, be it for a SAM tool or CMDB analysis.

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