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VMWare is a popular enterprise-level virtual machine software suite, used to subdivide single servers into two or more “virtual” servers, so that one powerful server machine can fill the role of multiple less-powerful servers. This is a very useful tool in enterprise environments—or at least it has been until today.

Today, IT departments all over the world are discovering that, due to a bug in VMWare’s license management system, their VMWare virtual machines have abruptly stopped working. (See also: Slashdot discussion.) According to the article (emphasis mine), “VMware has stated they will have fixes available in 36 hours at the earliest.” There are workarounds, but I am not in a position to judge their efficacy.

In a perfect world, this should serve as a wakeup call to everyone who puts digital rights management on their software or content to bear in mind that it is one more unnecessary potential point of failure. (Well, scratch that: in a perfect world we wouldn’t have to deal with it to begin with.) What is more likely is that it will serve as a wakeup call to all those businesses which currently depend on VMWare to find a replacement as quickly as possible. In an enterprise environment, a 36-hour outage of anything is not to be tolerated.

 
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