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Symantec eyes pay-per-use software

Virtualization may spell the end of expensive long-term software-licensing deals, enabling the monitoring of each software instance use, according to the security company.

Virtualization could end expensive long-term software licensing in favor of a pay-per-use model, according to Symantec.

Executives at the company said that years- or months-long licenses covering multiple machines could be slashed using virtualized applications to licensing deals structured as pay per day, per hour, or even per second.

Virtualized or streaming applications, where software is run on a central machine and streamed to computers over a network, allows monitoring of precisely how long each instance of the software is used.

"You can detect application usage so you can cut the number of licenses down to what is being used," said Ken Berryman, vice president of endpoint virtualization at Symantec.

"There are a lot of customers that would like to use that to only have to pay when using the software, but there is resistance among vendors to change the licensing model," he said. "What you cannot do today is go down to a charge-per-use model.

But licensing periods, Berryman added, are getting shorter, and one day may go down to individual usage.

Symantec is developing a prototype security service that will allow it to protect a machine with no installed security software using virtualization.

Berryman said using a built-in hypervisor would allow Symantec to set up a buffer to screen and intercept code before it is run on the virtual machine on a user's computer.

"Whenever a machine asks for some code, before you give it to them, you would give it to us, and we will scan against 47,000-plus virus definitions, and if it looks like a virus, we can inject our agent into that machine and kill the processes, and delete the files associated with that," he said.

Symantec is now deciding on how to deploy this virtualized security model and when there will be a market for it, according to Bruce McCorkendale, distinguished engineer in the CTO strategy office.

Nick Heath of reported from London.