Licensing 101. Part 1. What is a license?

Nothing mystifies our customers (and even some of our sales folks) more than a question that inevitably arise during our meetings: 'How is this product licensed?' or its even more frightening brethren: "How is this suite of products licensed?" and "We don't have that many users, why am I paying for some many licenses?"... In a small number of blog entries, I would like to try to clear up some of these mysteries and suggest some of the ways to answer these questions. Though, my focus will be squarely on the "technical" aspects of these questions - for everything else, please contact your sales representative :)

Part 1. What is a license?

At Quest, a license could either a text file with some crazy-looking extension (and there are many to choose from), a purely contractual agreement or it could be a combination of a text file and an appliance. These licenses could be one-time only, perpetual, renewable, refillable, short-term and reduced functionality, per user, per mailbox, per object, per server, per workstation, per workstation... Some licenses are easily transferable from server to server, some are server-specific...Some licenses can be used in Q&A or test environment, some cannot... Specific license may apply only to a specific major version of a program, so that when you upgrade, you may have to get a brand new license. Sometime there is no license at all, but there is a usage tracking meter. Confused? The first post will try to clarify some of these issues. Let's start with an easy one.

One-time license

most probably is a migration license, when a license is usually (but not always) per migrated user or mailbox. Customers always ask if a license can be re-used (the answer, of course, is 'no') and whether they should renew maintenance on already migrated users or mailboxes (the answer may be 'no' ). With migration products, the number of people/mailboxes to be migrated usually is clear, though there are some subtle points that a migration specialist would point out - migration project is just partially about migrating users or their mailboxes, largely it is about ensuring that appropriate resources (files and folders, public folders and databases, etc. are available to appropriate users throughout any migration phase). So that any user who needs to be mentioned in the permission sets for any file, folder, application, database etc. would need a license.

So one-time license may be used for quite a long time, as long as the migration project is still alive, and if technical support is needed, the maintenance would have to be paid - talk to the sales representative, who most probably knows more or knows whom to ask. In essence, one-time license is not reusable for another object/environment.

Perpetual license

This one is a tad easier - in theory, you pay once and you can use the software in perpetuity. In reality, there is an end-date - if you do have a license file, just open it with a Notepad, and you will see a strange date in the distant future as the end-date of your license. So if you managed to keep the same server version with the same Quest software application, you can use it in perpetuity. In reality, your server OS will probably be upgraded, its hardware will be replaced, Quest would release a new version to support this new OS, so there will be new licenses, new version, and perpetuity becomes even trickier.

Renewable/refillable license

Sometimes you may want to add more migrated users, or adjust your license to reflect a new acquision or a divestiture - you will most probably get a new license. Some products accept an additional license, some require a new license to cover all managed objects.


A license that has an expiration date - of course, they all do, but some licenses may expire in 2 weeks or 6 months. Trial licenses are a perfect example. Again, if you do have a text file license, just open it with a notepad and look at the expiration date.

Reduced functionality

Some products can enable or disable subsets of functionality or a more detailed breakdown of managed scope, and the line in the license file will reflect that. It may specify how many workstations or servers license allows, or what features are enabled or disabled.


In my next blog entry, I will continue exploring the wonderful mysterious world of Quest licenses. Stay tuned.

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