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Progress on Grid licensing

One of the events on our SC06 stand was a vendors' round-table discussion on Grid licensing. Representatives from Platform, NAG, Visual Numerics, Allinea, among others, contributed their thoughts on how we can produce more flexible licensing schemes for Grid use cases. There are two levels of concern: technical and business.

At the technical level, some vendors expressed frustration that the licensing systems that are currently available are too restrictive. So even though they want to offer more flexible business models, the underlying technology prevents them from doing so. There was broad agreement that a usage-based monitoring technology would provide a more flexible substrate.

There were several scenarios offerred at the business level. One of the simplest is to charge directly based on use. Ohio State University want to do this for local SME's who are just setting out down the road to Grid adoption; these SMEs don't want to commit to a large upfront cost when they are just experimenting with the technology. More complex use cases were suggested that would give more predictable costs for users and more predictable revenue streams for vendors. These would take advantage of the usage tracking technology but would not be constrained by it.

What made this discussion rather different from similar panels before is that there is a plan to work towards possible solutions. A first step will be to produce sample use cases for Grid licensing, together with outlines of what licenses would be required for each. This should help to frame the discussion and set requirements on any usage monitoring system.

My thanks to David Wallom and Laura McGinnis for organising this event and choosing UK e-Science to host it. I look forward to observing developments. I am certain that we will develop the discussion further at OGF20 in Manchester next year.


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