Virtualisation – The Reality, not the hype. Final Part

By Tam Kyle, Senior License Consultant, Rocela

Before I launch into the thorny topic of Oracle licensing when virtualising, it’s probably worth reminding ourselves of what has been discussed beforehand … briefly!

So, Part I covered what virtualisation is and why companies are so keen to take advantage of it with Part II discussing the sort of problems organisations encounter when virtualising and at a high level, how you can avoid these issues in the future.

And so, to Part III – the impacts and considerations of Oracle licensing when virtualising. Where to start?

Cost saving or cost avoidance?
Let’s start with the obvious – money. What are you trying to achieve? Direct cost saving or cost avoidance? Do you actually know if it’s possible to reduce or avoid Oracle costs? If you have a fixed maintenance stream, then you are paying for what you have already bought irrespective of the actual amount of usage. Your support fees will not necessarily reduce in line with reduced usage – all you will have done is freed up licenses for use elsewhere in the business, all the while paying support for shelfware – but that might be beneficial to you as opposed to dropping the bottom line.

Your license contracts will determine whether and indeed how you can terminate licenses and it’s certainly not as easy as saying, “I’ve virtualised, therefore my footprint is smaller, so I’ll pay less.”

Smaller footprint
And whilst we are on that topic, are you sure that your footprint is smaller? In other words, have you considered whether your virtualisation technologies allow licensing in a sub-capacity context? In plain English, have you been able to establish whether you only need to license the bit of the box that you are using? As it turns out, this is not necessarily always the case. My fuller publication will walk you through a few scenarios with some surprising conclusions.

Server Clustering
One of the great benefits of some virtualisation technologies is the capability to join physical servers together (clustering). This allows for resilience and the seamless moving of virtual machines between hosts within the cluster. However the license terms underpinning this may prove prohibitive – for example, Oracle’s current stance on VMware is that you have to license all the boxes in the cluster because you are giving the VM’s the capability of roving. Many would argue that the VM is never in two places at once or that this virtualisation technology is ‘hard’ because it’s technically the same as Oracle’s, so why should they consider it ‘soft’ and force the entire cluster to be covered?

Migration
Have you considered that you may need to license your installation twice whilst you have parallel running during a migration to a virtualised infrastructure? Whilst this will most likely be a new and additional spend, it may not need to be licensed in the same way as your original setup.

Who said licensing was easy? In truth, there are many nuances around the various virtualisation/isolation/partitioning technologies in use – the breadth and licensing impact of these technologies isn’t easily understood and is frequently open to interpretation depending on the operational, business and contractual context.

The 3 Vital Treatments
Drawing this 3 part summary to a close, what we are saying – that virtualisation is an abstraction of hardware from operating systems and software. Organisations consider virtualisation to save money, provide operational flexibility and prepare for future technologies. Many organisations’ virtualisation projects run into trouble when they fall foul to unfixed requirements, underestimating the technical challenge, vendor support and lock-in and unintended licensing implications.

So, our 3 Vital Treatments, to keep in mind when embarking upon virtualisation projects are:
1. Get the requirements right – what is the purpose of the project? Have you consulted experts to see if you can save money and is it the optimal way to save money?
2. A tight business case – consider all elements. Understand the potential benefits and pitfalls of your virtualisation choices especially in license terms – how do you license your new virtualisation setup and how is it different from your existing license provision?
3. Control – understand migration needs and ensure you can operate your virtualisation setup ongoing, especially from a license perspective.

The full Virtualisation Publication will offer you much more detail and insight into this paradigm and is available to download from our website.

This concludes our series on Virtualisation – if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to email me on tam.kyle@rocela.com

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