Why ESX’s Update 2 bug is a big deal…

First, let me say that a wise man once told me that procrastination solves many a problem.  While I don’t think it always applies, when it comes to software patches and upgrades – I tend to tread water for a while before applying anything in production.

Everyone else has chimed in with their perspective on why the Update 2 bomb bug is a big deal.  I probably approach this from a slightly different angle.  I’m never fond of any software company which time limits your software.  I don’t really care much if its beta software or final release, but anything which bundles a mechanism to expire the software at some point in time to me is not production software. Any time this is included, you run the risk of the exact scenario that VMware setup on us.   To me, there is only one thing worst – a HARDWARE based license shackle (I have one I absolutely despise in the office right now!).

I have always been a fan of VMware’s solution to licensing – because it wasn’t a date or hardware shackle  solution.  That’s what makes me so worried with VMware at this point.  Why would a company whose central mechanism for license control add a date layer when its not necessary.  If you’re VMware, do you really care that someone is running a pre-release version of your patches instead of the final revision?  Why did the date of August 12 matter?  If someone is crazy enough to run their production systems on pre-release patches, let them.

Those darn pirates
Yeah, yeah.  I get that some people pirate software.  But many of the anti-piracy measures only serve to agonize the legitimate customers of the software companies.  Many years ago during my consulting years, I maintained a dental software package which relied on a parallel port hardware shackle to operate.  This was the pain of all pains.  There wasn’t a move the office could make without having problems.  And should the one workstation with the key go down, well, the office was down.

Microsoft has been combatting piracy for years, with little success IMO.  The things that they have added to their operating systems continue to do little other than annoy their legitimate customers.  As an enterprise, I find it rediculous that we’d have to activate every copy of Windows we deploy.  They already rape extort persuade us into “Enterprise Agreements” on the threats of audits and in the olden days, rewarded us with the ability not to have to activate each copy in the enterprise.  With the advent of Windows Server 2008 and Vista on the desktop, we lose that ‘reward’ and are forced to allow this needless traffic through our firewalls and security framework to allow Microsoft to certify that we have legitmate copies of their operating system.  [EA’s are for a whole ‘nother blog post]

Then what?
So everyone must wonder what my solution would be?  Simple actually.  Disable the ability to add new data to the software – whatever the software may be – but NEVER should a software simply stop running cold because of a licensing issue – regardless of type.

Take my dental software – how should it have acted if the hardware shackle was gone?  It should have allowed for normal check-in, check-out, appointment scheduling for existing patients.  It should allow for day-to day operation.  But, perhaps hit the pirate where it hurts – stop them from running financial reports, submitting insurance claims, etc.  But don’t stop a legitimate customer with a technical problem from running their office.

It ultimately comes down to whether the software company really values the customer, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at Techazine.com.

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