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How is virtualization backup software licensed?

Backup software can represent a significant investment in your virtual infrastructure. But, how do you know which licensing option is best for you?

As with most enterprise-class tools, backup software requires licensing (usually an annual cost) to ensure timely patches, updates, access to technical support and other benefits. But modern software carries a growing array of licensing models -- some of which can be confusing. Part of any backup software purchasing decision should include a careful evaluation of the available licensing schemes to select an approach that will be most cost-effective depending on the intended usage.

For example, you may find "per-socket" licensing, allowing great versatility in the way that processor resources are applied to various virtualized workloads without changing costs. "Per-server" licensing (regardless of the number of sockets or cores) can be desirable for protecting systems at the bare metal or host level. "Per-application" licensing can be used to cover certain specific applications like SQL Server or Exchange in either virtual or physical modes. And "per-terabyte" licensing can offer sweeping coverage of systems and applications up to a particular storage capacity. Other licensing models may also be available depending on the vendor and the backup tool. Don't be afraid to haggle and negotiate for the most desirable licensing deal.

Always read the fine print on licensing and have a clear understanding of when additional licensing costs might be incurred.

Backing up a data center environment with different operating systems and hypervisors can be an extremely challenging task because of the multiple software dependencies involved -- changes to an operating system, hypervisor or backup software version may carry unintended consequences for the entire backup process. Adopters should invest in comprehensive proof-of-principle testing to ensure that prospective backup software will function properly in the environment and remain viable into the foreseeable future as hypervisor and operating system use change. This will help prevent unforeseen and highly disruptive changes to alternative backup software. 

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I didn't think most vendors were offering multiple types of licenses -- simply that some of them used one way and some used another and some were switching from one to another. Are there vendors that offer multiple kinds of licensing, or are you talking about comparing Vendor A's license structure with Vendor B's?
Invest in a comprehensive proof-of-principle testing to ensure the backup software is functional and will continue to function properly in an environment after OS changes.