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The main conclusion highlighted in The 451 Group’s 2005 report on The Impact of Software Licensing in Grid was that “Software licensing practices are limiting the acceleration of grid adoption”. As can see from recent reports on major obstacles for Cloud computing software licensing still is among the top 10. The objective of the SmartLM project was to develop a working prototype for software licensing and license management suitable for running applications in both conventianal computing environments and distributed computing infrastructures. Besides this prototype the development of new business models together with the Independent Software Vendors participating in the project was a second major objective. The project ended successfully July 2010 and three partners of the project started the development of the commercial product elasticLM out of the prototype developed in SmartLM.
Traditionally, software licenses have been provided on the basis of a named user, node-locked host, number of concurrent jobs, or possibly a site license. These models are not sufficiently flexible to support application execution in Grids or Clouds that access resources beyond the current administrative domain – possibly a Utility service outside the organization. Indeed, the rapid emergence of mainstream multi-core processors and virtualization environments will require a rapid evolution in software licensing models.
The SMARTLM solution is to implement software licenses as services, thus providing platform-independent access - just like other virtualised resources. Service Level Agreements based on evolving standards will then govern license usage. Secure agreements will be used to transport licenses through the network to the resource to which a user has been granted access to execute the application. The license agreement and conditions of use for an application will be reached through negotiation between service providers and service customers.
SMARTLM provides new generic licensing virtualization technology based on standards such as WS-Agreement and WS-Negotiation, and integrates it in major Grid middleware solutions. The project also identified new service-oriented business models for this approach. A number of widely-used license-protected commercial applications have beed adapted to be executed under control of the new licensing mechanisms and will have become part of a highly quality show-case to convince more code-owners to adapt their applications.
The development of a Grid and Cloud-aware software licensing approach will accelerate the adoption of Disributed Computing generally – but especially into new areas exploiting a broad range of commercial software, beyond the boundaries of technical computing and HPC.