General discussion



By ben.rattigan ·
We all know were not compliant and we all no that there is software somewhere on our networks that is not licensed. The odd extra copies of Office, few downloads etc.

Software licensing is a massive IT problem in itself, created by a beuracratic mentality and costing companies a fortune to manage. Licensing should be straightforward and simple, something we should not have to worry about. It is beyond all belief that we need courses, seminars and conferences to discuss it.

Microsoft is the worst offender of complex licensing and the biggest moaner when users aren't complying. Well Microsoft has had it's chance to get it right time and again, the only way forward now is for national Governments to step in a legislate to simplify and standardise the issuing of software licences.

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I couldn't agree more..

by Susan1979 In reply to Licensing

Hi Ben..
I worked for a few years as a licensing specialist for Dell and there are an infinite amount of "gotchas", not just with Microsoft, but with Veritas, Symantec, Legato, etc.
I can't tell you how many customers I worked with who had be sure of what licensing they needed (or had) only to find out they were doing it completely wrong. Its like a company needs an entire position dedicated just to tracking CALs and maintenance.

If there were at least commonalities between vendors licensing structures, it might be a bit easier but none of them seem interested in changing... unless its to make it more complex.

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Scary Licensing Processes

by Al Plastow In reply to I couldn't agree more..

Ben makes some great points in post #13. They link well to this post, too. However, there are a couple problems.

First, and foremost, licensing is a method of ensuring that the consumer is more reliant on the licensor. Not merely by virtue of the license Ts & Cs but by virtue of the licensor being the "only" expert on their license. Also, the complexity of the agreements ensures that the licensee (that would be US) is pretty much liable for any violation the licensor can conceive. This second concept permits a long term potential for added revenue stream. (At least as long as the license or any derivitive license is valid.)

Second, Ben makes the point of posting licenses and applicability on web sites. This is great - in concept, but quite naturally, the legal kids have trashed the concept.

Simply put, unless you place a clear restriction in your actual license, the licensor can (and they do) change the license Ts & Cs on the web site at will.

The real key is having someone - not a lawyer - on staff who has been trained in strategic licensing; in how the products are used; and in how copyrighted products evolve across (and beyond) their life cycles. This isn't as difficult as it seems. However, this single individual can save the company huge amounts in both real money and diverted violations.

Any questions? Let me know & I'll do my best to provide a useful answer.

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Too complex

by Andy The IT Bloke In reply to Licensing

You're spot on there Ben.

Licensing creates a lot of work, a lot of confusion as well as the extra cost. And why should we pay for CAL's when we've paid for the server OS, Exchange and the desktop OS.

Just a licence to make money.

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by ben.rattigan In reply to Too complex

Of course. I still don't know exactly what reason Microsoft has for Client Access Licensing, I can't think of a valid argument, other than to generate income for Microsoft.

I think now Microsoft has decided to create a wider range of Windows versions that the Vista Business should come as standard with a Windows Server CAL included which covers any Windows Server versions.

Microsoft CAL's shouldn't be version specific either and the CAL should sit with the client allowing it to connect to any server.

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by Dumphrey In reply to CAL's

As long as M$ is making the big bucks on CALS from the enterprise sector, there will be no change in their policy. Until the complexity and expence begin to cost them market share, there will not be much change. And as much as I hate to admit it, there is no open source replacement for AD, and open source mail aplications to replace exchange are a nightmare.

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No replacement . . . ?

by apotheon In reply to Money

AD is just a modern rip-off of NDS (Novell Directory Services). Added to the mix now is Novell eDirectory.

You could also construct an AD-like system using Kerberos, LDAP, and NFS, or similar open source technologies. In fact, AD is just a collection of MS implementation of open protocols and technologies, with modifications to make it incompatible with competing systems. Even SMB/CIFS, the basic network protocol and network filesystem on which all LAN systems are based in the world of MS Windows, is just a Microsoft implementation of open technologies.

I'm a little mystified by your assertion that "open source mail aplications to replace exchange are a nightmare," too. It has been my experience that the nightmare is dealing with maintenance, administration, implementation, support, and licensing compliance for MS Exchange. When you get something like Open-Xchange set up, you just check it daily for a couple minutes to make sure everything's humming along, but with MS Exchange you essentially need to hire a full-time Exchange admin dedicated to keeping your mail system running. Have you had different experience from me, or are you just basing your statement on third-hand complaints from people unwilling to make the migration from MS technologies to open tech?

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by Dumphrey In reply to No replacement . . . ?

I have to admit to being fairly ignorant of novell Directory services. It probably would make a good approach, but its still a licensed product. As for kerberos, ldap, NFS, Im not that much of a linux ninja yet. But I see your point, there are options. I guess I should refine my statement to say that Open source directory services will not be competative until they reach the simplicity of AD. As for open source mail programs, configureing sendmail took me 4 days. I still dont have all the bugs out of it yet. I was able to put up an exchange server in 4 hours. Its been running for 3 years now. We did have to add some extra disk space, but thats it really for major maintainace. Once again, for me, Exchange just works, and keeps on working. My only complaint is the same one I have about the rest of MS products, Licensing. You buy the hardware, you buy the sergver software, you buy Exchange, you buy client workstations/OSs, and you still have to pay $ so clients can leagaly connect to the server. I know its not my money, but its the principal of the matter. For whqat we spend on licensing fees, we could have built a new server or two.

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Fair enough.

by apotheon In reply to Novell

You're right -- setting up the pure open source solution is a bit more effort than setting up AD, NDS, or eDirectory. It's worth the effort, though, at least as compared with MS AD.

When setting up an Active Directory, as when setting up Exchange, it's always quite easy to get a default, common-case system running. The trade off is that any time you have something nonstandard to do, you triple the time you have to spend on setting up the system, and setting it up securely is a series of hurdles all its own that usually requires buying a lot of third-party technology. In my experience, just getting a basic system running is much, much easier with AD or Exchange than with open source equivalents, but getting one running that is secure, stable, and tailored to specific needs takes longer, costs much more (even ignoring the licensing costs for AD and Exchange themselves), and is a lot more frustration and effort.

I guess it's a little like buying a 1984 Ford Escort with AD painted on the door, then trying to turn it into a sports car, contrasted with buying a snap-together kit that can be any kind of car you like just by choosing different parts to snap together. If you want a 1984 Ford Escort, go with the AD car, definitely. For anything else, that's the worst possible choice.

re: Sendmail
I can't stand that thing. I've been using Postfix for my mail server of choice. I'm not surprised you've been having problems with it, frankly.

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I see what you mean

by Dumphrey In reply to Fair enough.

I can agree that secureing Exchange and AD definately takes some work, be it group policy, and or external solutions such as Anit Virus and Spam filtering, not to mention firewall and vpn services that further compromise the AD integrity. No network can ever be totaly secure, but Windows can be made reasonably secure. I am trying to find as many open source alternatives to MS based services as I can. I personally will not be migrating to MS VISTA, but have set up a 64 Bit Fedora system for my self. Thyis allows me to run Snort, Nessus, and several other toys to monitor my network. I like Xp, I like Win 2k, and I like severs 2k and 2k3. I dojnt like the pricing and buisness practices MS has released with Vista. <End of rant, sorry> Ill look into postfix, I have time to plan and learn before we will need to make any major changes in our e-mail system. What we will need at that point is a single front end server and 2 back end servers to split the mail load between divisions of our company. That seems entirely possible to do with a linux based solution.

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something I forgot to mention

by apotheon In reply to Fair enough.

I brought up the proprietary Novell stuff in the first place because I was referring to "plug and pray" type solutions that run on open source systems. It's not a "pure" open source solution, but it's halfway there at least -- which is a darned sight better than MS AD for licensing purposes, especially since Novell has never been the sort of racketeer Microsoft is now.

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