What about their Licensing and Virtualization?
Virtualization is a technology used by more and more businesses these days to reduce costs and increase capabilities related to their information systems. However, this technology isn’t always viable when vendors use specialized licensing tools. This is the case with Dassault Systèmes DSLS licensing and IBM’s LUM licensing, and it is important to understand why.
Virtualization technology basically creates an abstraction layer within a computer. This layer interfaces on one side with the physical hardware of a computer, and separately interfaces on the other side with operating systems and other software. In the middle of these two interfaces, virtualization software is able to do some pretty interesting things, including:
- Allowing the sharing of computer resources like processors, memory, storage, and other peripherals
- Masking/manipulation of physical characteristics of hardware like processor speed, hardware IDs, etc.
- Capturing the physical state of a machine through software (remembering what’s in memory, what programs were executing, etc.)
The Unintended Consequences
All of this has myriad positive benefits to the management and deployment of information systems, but there can be some unintended consequences as well. Specifically, with virtualization technology, it is possible to “clone” a virtual machine exactly (giving it the same name, address, hardware IDs, etc.). For programs that depend on these attributes of the physical machine to determine uniqueness (like many license management programs do), this “feature” is problematic. For example, when a customer purchases a software license from Dassault Systèmes, the company requests a “target ID” for the license server machine. This target ID is a calculated value based on physical characteristics of the machine (like the hardware ID on the network card, known as the MAC address). Dassault then issues a license key for the purchased software allowing the appropriate number of purchased licenses to be served from only the computer with the matching target ID. You can imagine that if you could arbitrarily set the target ID on a computer, it would be quite easy to pirate licenses because one license key could be used on many, many computers. And fortunately or unfortunately, virtualization allows you to set many of the physical IDs for the virtual machines that you create, which could encourage this behavior.
Dassault Systèmes and Virtual Environments
What all of this means is that Dassault Systèmes’ DSLS licensing mechanism would be compromised if it ran on virtual machines. So, DSLS software explicitly prevents itself from being installed on VMs, and Dassault has indicated that they do not intend to support virtual machines for licensing in the near term. Specifically, the 3DS knowledgebase indicates:
It is not possible to either run or install the (DSLS) Dassault Systèmes License Server on a virtual machine. The main reason why Dassault Systèmes does not support DSLS on virtual environments is the fact that it is easy to manage computer-id and therefore break into the DS licensing mechanism.