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Working group on implications of virtualisation formed by FAST.

The Federation Against Software Theft : 29 November, 2007  (Company News)
Licensing problems and improved deployment opportunities using virtualisation form the dilemma facing the software industry as discussed in the virtualisation working group headed by the Federation Against Software Theft.
The Federation Against Software Theft has joined forces with major names in the software industry to form a working group aimed at clarifying the key aspects and impact of Virtualisation on software licensing.

Meeting for the first time on November 12th, the group has been formed of key Federation members including Centennial Software, Computacenter, CSC Computer Sciences, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Europe, ManageSoft, SMS Services, Rocela, Salans and Symantec/ Altiris.

Federation Chief Executive John Lovelock commented: "Virtualisation is one of the hottest topics on everyone's mind right now but there is a big gap in understanding what it really means for organisations looking to adapt the technology - both in terms of the impact it has on the day to day running of the business, the possibility of cost savings as well as the potential for ambiguity over licensing agreements with the software publishers."

One of the main issues surrounding Virtualisation as Lovelock points out is the need for balance to be struck between the enticing cost savings and adhering to the licence terms. "From an asset management point of view, users appear to be deciding on Virtualisation without identifying the ramifications vis a vis licensing first. There is not currently an easy way to measure usage on virtual environments - technically it is possible but a discovery agent has to be deployed there to identify the software's presence."

Another significant point in the user community right now involves the green credentials associated with virtualisation. It's regarded as a green issue as it increases hardware utilisation - estimated at present to be 30%-40% to 60%-70%. Additionally it reduces the office space needed by a company and therefore results in less heating, lighting and rent, plus an increase in data processing. These issues are naturally being picked up by hardware vendors who are using it to drive server sales.

Martyn Hobbs, spokesman for Federation member Altiris, now part of Symantec said: "Being at the forefront of desktop application virtualisation, Altiris takes its responsibilities to both legal compliance and its customers very seriously. To act in any way, other than to encourage openness at this stage in the development of Virtualisation technology, would at best be immature and to provide clarity in the area of virtualised license usage, it's going to take a team effort from software manufacturers, tool providers and organisations like the Federation Against Software Theft to make the issue of virtual licence compliance easier to understand."

Lovelock concluded: "As a representative body we're asking whether software will need to have some kind of agent installed which enables it to recognise a virtual environment. And will virtual licences need to be reclaimed during the disposal process? What we do know, is that there will need to be a combination of processes and tools to control the virtual environment. It is vital at this point that we demand greater clarity from vendors and look at the potential to canvas Virtualisation software vendors for their view on the future direction."
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