The subject of questions in and around virtualisation has risen again recently, primarily with debate on the basics.

Ian Masters, UK sales and marketing director for Double-Take Software, recently claimed that there are significant differences between online backup and cloud recovery, primarily that the latter should include:

1)      The ability to recover workloads in the cloud

2)      Effectively unlimited scalability with little or no up-front provisioning

3)      Pay-per-use billing model

4)      An infrastructure that is more secure and more reliable than the one you would build yourself

5)      Complete protection - i.e. non-expert users should be able to recover everything they need, by default.

He claimed that if a solution does not meet up to these five criteria, then it should be called an online backup product.

Masters said: “Cloud means so many different things to so many people, that it sometimes seems not to mean anything at all.  If you are going to depend on it to protect your data, it had better mean something specific. These five points may not cover every possible protection goal, but they set a good minimum standard.”

He also claimed that one area where cloud providers may be held to account is around security and reliability, but he believed that they hold providers to the wrong standard.

Earlier this week I met Chris Holland, vice-president of software rights management at SafeNet, who claimed that hosted software has led users to be unsure about what benefits they get and the rules on licensing.

A SafeNet survey published on Tuesday claimed that fears regarding software licensing management are preventing organisations from adopting these new technologies: of those planning to implement on-demand services or who prefer on-premise solutions (68 per cent of the total), almost half (49 per cent) believe it will cause issues with managing security and over a third (37 per cent) believe it will make it more complex to manage software costs.

In addition, 16 per cent think on-demand solutions will increase licence costs – 22 per cent think they will stay the same, and 34 per cent are unsure of the impact on software costs.

Also when it comes to virtualisation, the situation is similar: while 38 per cent of those using or planning to use virtualisation technologies (which included the majority – 93 per cent – of respondents) thought it would simplify licence management, many think it will have a negative impact on software licensing:

·        27 per cent believe virtualisation is more complex when managing software costs

·        17 per cent feel that software security management will be more complicated

·        10 per cent believe it will be more difficult to detect who is using which software and applications

·        12 per cent think virtualisation will increase licence costs – 28 per cent think they will stay the same, and 16 per cent don't know what the impact on cost will be.

Holland said: “While the on-demand and virtualisation vendors tout the technologies' IT management benefits, the licencing issue is, as yet, unsolved for most UK organisations. However software is delivered, you need to know how it is licenced, how to manage your licences and what the cost and security implications are.

“If the suppliers do not communicate this clearly to potential customers, the widespread adoption of the solutions will be limited.”