Licensing Considerations

 One of the principal perceived benefits of agentless backup and recovery solutions is the lack of a per-agent license fee. Most agentless solution vendors tout their host-based, or socket-based, licensing schemes as a benefit. However, the final cost of any solution can be judged only in the context of a particular customer’s environment. To evaluate licensing, you must understand the terminology:

Agent-based license: Used by agent-based solutions, this type of licensing requires a separate license for each source system (each system where you want to install the agent). Agent-based licensing is applicable to both physical and virtual environments.

Host-based license: Used by agentless solutions, this type of licensing requires a separate license for each physical host where you want to run the backup solution. One license backs up all VMs on the host. Host-based licensing is applicable only to virtual environments.

Socket-based license: Used by agentless solutions, this type of licensing requires a license for each processor in the physical machine running the hypervisor. Socket-based licensing is applicable only to virtual environments.

Regardless of the pricing model used, the cost-effectiveness of a backup and recovery solution is measured by the cost per protected machine. According to Enterprise Management Associates, average VM density (number of VMs per hypervisor) in the enterprise is 6. However, the average VM density for SMB organizations is typically lower than this. VM density plays a critical role in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of a backup and recovery solution.

For example, the following pricing options reflect actual pricing from prominent backup and recovery vendors. For the purposes of this comparison, the hypervisor is running on a single-processor (quad core) rack-mount server.

# of VMs -> 1 3 6 12
per agent* (StorageCraft) $395 $995 $1295 $1895
per host** $1799 $1799 $1799 $1799
per socket*** $1099 $1099 $1099 $1099

*Agent-based licenses can be distributed across as many hypervisors, and processors, as needed.
**VMs must reside on a single physical host or additional licenses are needed.
***VMs must reside on one single-processor server. Using a host with more than one processor requires additional licenses.

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