SmartLM was a European funded project (2008-2010, grant #216759) with the objective to develop a generic licencing technology for geographically distributed computing – which at the time of the project was predominantly Grid computing.
The rational for the project
IT Infrastructure paradigms have been changing over the last years to support more flexibility and reduce costs at the same time. In parallel, computer-based simulations became more important and tend to become more complex and demanding with respect to the computational requirements. Several approaches to address these issues evolved, driven by academia and industry. Grid computing aims at providing infrastructure for sharing or pooling resources in a collaborative manner. Clouds, which appeared more recently on the scene, focus on resource provisioning, e.g. for peak demand or when customer owned infrastructure is overloaded or its use is not appropriate for any reason.
However, extending a company’s business or a research institution’s information processing beyond the borders of the respective administrative domain raises a number of issues, one of them is the use of license-protected software. Software protection and licensing are important topics for both the independent software vendors and software users. In Grid and Cloud environments, the use of license- protected applications is almost impossible and becomes a challen- ging task. The reasons are twofold: (i) there are – with a few excep- tions for the Amazon EC2 environment that have been introduced recently – no business models of the independent software vendors for Grids or Clouds and (ii) there is no licensing technology suitable for Grid environments.
Moreover, the current business models of the ISVs most often result in contracts restricting the use of licenses for application execution on resources in a computing centre of the company or institution that bought the license, thus rendering the use of paid licenses for application execution on remote Grid or Cloud resources a breach of contract.
For that reason the 451 group concluded in an extensive survey on licensing issues in Grids that current software licensing practices are limiting the acceleration of Grid adoption already in 2005. Indeed, the rapid emergence of service and virtualization environments requires a rapid evolution in licensing models.