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Securing software licenses in a location independent manner

: Hagemeier, B.; Mallmann, D.; Ziegler, W.

Bubak, M.:
Cracow Grid Workshop 2009. Proceedings : October 12 - 14, 2009, Cracow, Poland
Krakow: Academic Computer Centre CYFRONET, 2010
ISBN: 978-83-614-3301-9
Cracow Grid Workshop (CGW) <2009, Krakow>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer SCAI ()

Grid and Cloud Computing have become very popular over the years. Cloud computing received a real boost through several commercial offers by big companies initially selling their spare CPU cycles to the general public and now making business with dedicated resources. This scheme gets adopted more and more, and there is a strong demand to not only run home-grown software in the Grid or Cloud, but also licensed, off-the-shelf software created by Independent Software Vendors (ISV). However, current licensing methods have several aspects that severely limit the usability of licensed software in these environments. First of all, licensing models do not always allow running licensed soft- ware outside the administrative domain stated in the license agreement. There are other common contractual measures in license agreements to protect the ISV's ownership of the code and stop users from using the code in an unlawful manner. While technical measures exist to cover traditional licensing scenarios, largely distributed environments spanning different administrative domains pose new challenges to the technical implementation of license management. A small number of projects have already tried to tackle the problem from the technical point of view. Some of them technically bent the existing licensing solution and opened them up to the public world, e. g. by setting up authenticated proxies and pretending that external requests to the license server come from the internal network [2, 3]. These techniques, while technically feasible, kept the original licensing mechanisms and may have bent contractual obligations in some cases. In the SmartLM project [1], we've developed a solution, which allows license servers to issue tokens of limited lifetime for the execution of a job. We've managed to avoid the necessity of being connected to the license server all the time. Thus, compute jobs can be moved wherever they need to go. In order to avoid that the user has any added value from using the token multiple times, the token is bound to exactly one set of input data using cryptographic methods. SmartLM also tackles the legal and business aspects, by including ISVs and business experts in the development of new licensing models. The technical measures described in this work incorporate their requirements.