What's new, pussycat?
Under Redmond's new licensing policies, you can move that SharePoint or SQL Server installation from server to server within your server farm, without applying a new license to each possible combination of software-to-server. Any business with large data centers is likely to move things around a bit from time to time, especially now that virtual server software has made it so easy to reassign hardware assets on the fly. Your database needs more memory? Move that virtual server to a beefier physical machine. Running a disaster recovery test? Sync up to an IBM
Well, free under certain circumstances. Microsoft's definition of a server farm is any combination of two data centers within four time zones of each other, as long as you put that pairing down on paper. Customers are expected to track this new business attribute, but I don't think it's too much to ask.
Small companies probably don't have a whole lot of data centers; they're probably running just one or a couple of server farms. The likes of Wal-Mart
The savings in license costs are well worth it. Microsoft cites a reasonable example with three instances of SQL Server 2008 running in an environment with 20 dual-processor machines. Under the new rules, you'll need at most six licenses to support those three SQL installations at any given time, but to have your backside covered under the old rules would require as many as 80 licenses. Multiply that by a license cost ranging from about $3,500 to (gulp!) $24,000 per processor, and you can save millions.
Take that -- and like it!
Now, the new rules don't actually require that you run your Microsoft applications on Microsoft's virtual server platforms. You're free to use VMware if you want. Citrix Systems'
So Mr. Softy might steal a few hypervisor and virtual server sales from its rivals that way, but at a large cost. Remember, the company is giving up a lot of potential revenue here. Even so, I still think it's a great move -- but Citrix and VMware shouldn't panic just yet. Microsoft just grew the addressable market for virtual servers by relaxing licensing rules that would otherwise keep some IT managers on the virtual sidelines. Even those customers who already took the plunge might be encouraged to do more with virtual servers, and actually use those tasty hardware reassignment and system mobility features.
VMware must be jumping for joy right now. "Slap me again, Microsoft. It feels so good!"