Pretty much everyone is familiar with ‘On-line’ virus scanning services provided by some of the big players in the removal industry.
You go to the site, run the On-line scan, find out you have a virus, then you pay for the full version of the software to effectively remove the infection. Some companies, mainly open source based, offer everything for free.
Symantec believes that virtualization could put an end to long-term software licensing in favor of a pay-per-use model. Virtualized or streaming applications, software that is run on centralized machines and streamed to computers over a network allows monitoring precisely how long each instance of the software is used for. Licensing deals could be structured per day, per hour, or even per second.
Ken Berryman, Vice President of endpoint virtualization at Symantec, quoted :
“You can detect application usage so you can cut the number of licenses down to what is being used. 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. What you cannot do today is go down to a charge-per-use model.”
Licensing periods are becoming shorter, and one day may go down to the individual use model. Symantec is currently working on a virtualization prototype security service that allows protection to systems without installed security applications.
Using a built-in hypervisor would allow Symantec 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.”
Symantec is currently deciding on how to deploy such a virtualized security model and when there will be a market for it, according to Bruce McCorkendale.
Techno-babble aside, the Pay-Per-Use model is already being implemented in some ways by some PC Makers, such as Dell. Dell preloads its systems with antivirus software that is good for a trial period, and on top of that, they offer their Dell-On-Call (DoC) service. DoC is an instanced fee based service that gets used quite heavily by its consumers for virus and spyware removal – even within the trial operating period of the pre-loaded security suite software. Essentially, this IS a pay-per-use service for the purpose of infection removal – mostly.
The virtualization technology sounds intriguing, but power-users may find it a little ‘too integrated’ for their liking. Development and potential deployment of such a service should prove to be quite interesting in the future.