An advantage of virtualization for license servers

April 1, 2007

One of the more subtle advantages of full hardware virtualization is that your virtualized hardware always stays the same, no matter what actual hardware you happen to be running on. This is a real advantage for license servers, which are often nodelocked with various crazy schemes that assume you are trying to cheat on them if you change hardware.

(Sure, the company might fix the problem for us. If they're still in business, still interested in our business, still having anything to do with that ancient version of the software, and so on. All too often, companies seem to treat license problems as a great opportunity to extract more money from you.)

Virtualized hardware can even survive nodelocking schemes that require the inode numbers of crucial files to not change, because the disk is virtualized too. All you have to do is back up and restore the disk image (which is generally just some files), and everything comes back just as it was, inode numbers and all.

In fact, simplifying backup and restore in general is a nice feature of virtualized hardware. We no longer have to wrestle with various system specific programs that may or may not completely work; instead we can just snapshot, back up, and restore some files, something for which we have lots of tools. And we're guaranteed to back up and restore everything, with complete fidelity. And the whole process is much simpler, especially restoring a system (which can often be a nightmare).

The other great advantage of static hardware is static operating system stuff that depends on hardware, which in turn means that we never again have to do things like dig up a nearly exact replacement for a piece of dead hardware in order to get a system running again in a hurry without monkeying madly with its configuration. This is especially an issue for old systems, where you may not be able to reinstall the operating system on your recent hardware even if you want to because it lacks the necessary drivers.

Written on 01 April 2007.
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Last modified: Sun Apr 1 23:43:28 2007
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