Software license entitlement defines the license capacity against a manufacturer’s defined measurement. There is a vast range of different capacity types used by software manufacturers to measure license entitlement. These measurements can be divided into two basic groups:
- Instance based: measurement is tied to a configuration of the hardware (for example, processor based licensing)
- Non instance based: measurement is independent of hardware configuration (for example, user based licensing)
In this article I would like to focus on instance based measurements.
During my career in Software Asset Management I have identified more than 70 configuration data elements linked to the configuration of the hardware, which are used by different software manufacturers to measure license entitlement.
To manage 70 configuration data elements on the entire hardware and configuration baseline can become overwhelming; therefore, prioritization of configuration data elements is a good approach.
I have identified configuration data linked to processor architecture as top priority data elements because these are used by major software manufacturers.
There are seven processor architecture data elements linked to physical hardware:
- Processor chip manufacturer
- Processor chip type
- Processor chip model (where introduced by processor manufacturer)
- Number of processor cores per processor chip
- Number of processor sockets of a physical machine
- Number of processor chips of a physical machine
- Number of processor cores of a physical machine
When it comes to the terminology used by different software manufactures when they refer to processor architecture, Software Asset Managers have to ensure they understand which specific configuration data element is in question.
While one software manufacturer can refer to a processor core using the term “processor”, another manufacturer can refer to a processor chip with the same term.
Another example is use of the term “Socket” or “CPU socket”. It has to be clarified if the software manufacturer refers to all sockets on a physical server, which will be equivalent to the maximum number of processor chips when all processor sockets are populated with processor chips, or if the manufacturer will only consider sockets actually populated with processor chips in their licensing.
The first four processor architecture data elements play a role when the software manufacturer is using core factor or value unit measurements. Examples are core factors used for database licensing, Processor Value Units and Performance Value Units.
Note that additional data elements may be required in case of Value Units licensing, such as operating system type.
Special attention needs to be paid in the case of Linux virtualization on the mainframe. In this case, general mainframe processors are configured to Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines.
IFL engine is an additional processor architecture data element critical, for example, for the licensing of commercial Linux distributions when hosted on the mainframe.
In other cases, one IFL engine can be referenced as one processor chip and one processor core as in the example of Processor Value Unit licensing.
In the cases where licensing is based on processor chips or processor cores of the entire physical machine (full capacity), we also need to take into the consideration the fact that the hardware can be part of a hardware complex or a system complex.
One example of a hardware complex is a Blade complex, where two Blade servers can be assembled together to create a scalable blade complex. In a Single partition scenario, the operating system will be installed on a primary Blade server only. In this scenario, all processors chips or processor cores of both Blade servers build into the complex have to be licensed.
Another example of a hardware complex is Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP), which allows System X servers to be scaled by connecting two physical servers together to form a single system. In this scenario too all processors chips or processor cores of both physical servers have to be licensed.
An example of a system complex would be the server cluster or server farm. In this scenario, the Software Asset Manager has to understand if virtual mobility was enabled for the virtual machines in question, as in those cases where licensing is based on processor chips or processor cores under full capacity, all physical machines which are part of the server cluster or server farm will have to be licensed.
In the case where the software manufacturer allows licensing based on virtual cores (sub capacity), often referred as vCPU, it has to be clarified if the software manufacturer considers hyper threading in its licensing model. It has to be clear whether only processor cores assigned to respective virtual machines have to be licensed when hyper threading is on, or if processor threads assigned to respective virtual machines have to be licensed.
When it comes to sub capacity licensing on power machines additional data elements come to play:
- Capped partition
- Uncapped partition
A capped partition’s access to processor resources is limited to the amount of processor resources allocated when the partition was started. An uncapped partition’s access to processor resources can increase as demand warrants and availability supports.
This information is required for sub capacity licensing on Power machines for selected software manufacturers.
Correct configuration baseline is absolutely critical for compliance in Software Asset Management and Software Asset Managers must follow technology trends in order to understand the impact new technologies can have on licensing.