I was introduced to the concept of PSMO at a client a number of years ago. He told me he hired me as a consultant to help him bypass the built-in PSMO feature (though he used a different letter than “S”). I naturally asked him, “what in the world is PSMO?” He told me that all software comes with the ‘Please Screw Me Over’ (PSMO) option enabled by default. He expressed the opinion that you need to decipher the correct combination of configuration and/or licensing to get any product to actually work in a reasonably intelligent fashion. And you people think I’m cynical!
I do have to agree that it often seems difficult to get software to work as you would expect, or figure out which of the numerous options you have to license to make things work like the sales guy told you it would. I’ve done ROI’s that looked great until you added in the software license to enable one critical feature, after which you just couldn’t get people to even consider the solution due to the now exorbitant price. While I understand the greed and avarice behind licensing prices (wasn’t it the Beatles who sang “All You Need is Cash”?), it does seem like they are trying to emulate Steve Martin’s pseudo philosophy on his Wild and Crazy Guy album. To paraphrase Steve, these companies might say “this is what I’m shooting for – one sale, goodbye”. Don’t get me started ranting about programmers creating programs that have complex configurations or options buried or obfuscated in some bizarre way.
At Tech Field Day 7, I heard some interesting comments from the sponsors that may indicate a growing tendency to move away from this long running problem of PSMO. I’ll be blogging separately on the products that the sponsors talked about. In this post, I’ll focus on the licensing side of PSMO, since we didn’t really get into configuration details.
Symantec has bundled a number of their options with their Backup Exec appliance. This should help simplify things. Clients can be pushed from the appliance, which is a full media server. I think it’s lame that Symantec didn’t include the Central Admin Server Option (CASO). The assumption being that this appliance is for small environments, who may not need CASO, I suppose. However, to keep from moving too far away from the PSMO philosophy, there is no ability to send to tape with this appliance and no RAID-6; so unless you’re ok with your appliance having a double-disk failure and losing *all* of the backups sent to that device, then you will need to have CASO to duplicate these backups to another media server to have a second copy on disk or tape (would have to be a regular media server not an appliance for the tape copy). Fear not, I plan to cover these deficiencies more in another blog.
Symantec also covered their NetBackup appliance line. The software and hardware licenses for these devices are separate on the NetBackup side, as opposed to the Backup Exec side having them tied together. The nice part about the licensing here is that there is no additional software licensing for replication, simply add the hardware for another appliance. Symantec moved to a capacity-based license several years ago, though not everyone knew about that when it came out. In many cases, it is cheaper, and way easier, to have a capacity-based license. You pay an amount based on how much data you are protecting in the environment and no longer care how many clients or options you need, they are all included.
Dell’s move away from PSMO is to have a perpetual license. I wasn’t planning on blogging on this subject, so I didn’t really take detailed notes on licensing stuff. I may have missed how far they are planning on taking this. I have written down that a licensed purchased for a Compellent array stays with you, even when you do a fork-lift upgrade to new hardware. It is possible they will do this with all their hardware. So, buy it once and it follows you forever, like rats following the Pied Piper. That’s probably not a good image for licensing, so forget I said that.
Veeam has a good approach on the licensing side of things. They now have a single license for multi-hypervisor environments. So, if I decide to start moving to a hypervisor other than the pervasive VMware (not that anyone would ever accuse VMware of moving to a more PSMO-like licensing scheme anytime recently), I can use my existing licenses to say move one of my servers from VMware to Hyper-V.
My Shining Ray of Darkness
I certainly could twist this to say that this is just an example of the fact that licensing prices are so over-inflated that they can easily afford to throw more crap in and it won’t cost them anything. But, I won’t say that. I did get the impression that the companies above are making a genuine effort to make your life easier and trying to provide PSMO-free products. Making your life easier, after all, would have the benefit of you feeling more inclined to turn to them and buy more stuff. I also think it’s ok to ask vendors for products that have the PSMO option disabled at time of purchase.