Cloud Data Centers

Critical software licensing pitfalls to avoid when moving to the cloud

When starting on your cloud migration journey, pricing competition and license portability should be paid close attention to.

Image: iStockphoto/trendobjects

Enterprise IT data center managers have moved past a good number of obstacles and fears in order to begin running production workloads in the public cloud. Lifting and shifting applications from the private data center to the public cloud is becoming routine, in some cases.

Security professionals, for example, have realized cloud providers are better at security than most organizations. And while there's a strong understanding of how to achieve similar, if not better, application performance in a multi-tenant infrastructure, software licensing may remain a blind spot.

Cloud competition

Traditional enterprise IT vendors have long taken notice of Amazon Web Services' (AWS) success. It seems every major enterprise application vendor has, or had, a public cloud offering. Cisco, HPE, and VMware represent companies that attempted and abandoned direct public cloud offerings. SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft, however, continue to hold AWS at bay.

SEE: Special report: The cloud v. data center decision (free PDF)

Software licensing is one of the tools available to traditional IT vendors in their cloud strategy. Oracle is an example of a vendor that leverages their software pricing strategy. Oracle effectively doubled the cost of running Oracle software on AWS EC2 instances, to discourage the use of another cloud platform. Customers wanting to run Oracle software in a multi-tenant cloud are encouraged to run the software on Oracle's cloud platform. Customers who select Oracle's cloud platform receive appealing pricing options compared to AWS and Azure.

Running an Oracle DB in Oracle's cloud creates a halo effect. Oracle databases normally represent enterprise applications, which are a center of gravity for data and system integration. Additional workloads are likely to be placed in the same cloud service to provide low latency network access. As such, Oracle may pull in additional workloads because of the pricing advantage.

License portability

Licensing confusion isn't a new challenge as infrastructure abstraction has evolved. Vendors from Microsoft to Oracle have adjusted their licensing programs over the years and many other vendors license on the physical processor capacity.

As virtualization became popular, software vendors offered agreements to account for virtualized environments. With cloud being another form of virtualization, logic dictates that software licensing is portable. However, that's an incorrect assumption.

Another example is Microsoft's Windows 10 licensing. Microsoft has long taken the position that their desktop OS isn't available in a multi-tenant cloud environment. It is for this reason that the virtual desktop offering from AWS leverages a re-skinned version of Windows Server. But, Microsoft did recently announce a change in policy to allow Windows 10 inside a multi-tenant cloud, which could change things in the future.

Before executing a cloud migration strategy, customers should meet with their vendors or consult a licensing expert on the options for running existing software in the cloud, in order to avoid these common pitfalls.

Also see

Visit TechRepublic