VMWare ESX and USB Dongles
I'm just wondering if anyone else is using multiple VMWare ESX servers in a High Availability cluster - running virtual machines with applications that require USB Dongles for serialization/licensing?
The problem I have is that we have 3 physical esx servers. I have one server with a virtual machine running an application that requires a usb dongle for its license. Without the dongle the application stops working. If the physical server were to go offline then the virtual machine running the application would be restarted (using the high availability feature) on a different physical server. Herein lies the problem. We only have one dongle and if it is plugged into the server that is offline then when the virtual machine is restarted on another server or infact vmotion'd onto any of the other servers it cannot contact the dongle and verify its license and so it stops working.
As far as I can see I have 4 options:
1) ask the software vendor if they sell a copy of the software that does not use a usb dongle. (Tried this and got told 'NO')
2) buy another 2 dongles and infact another 2 full copies of the software. I could then plug one dongle into each esx server and whatever phisical esx server the virtual machine was on it would always detect a usb dongle. (considered this until I heard the price of another 2 licenses, also don't like the fact that we would have 3 dongles altogether and would only ever be using one of them).
3) use dongle emulation apps. from what I have read there are 3rd party apps that dump the contents of the dongle to a file and then an emulator is used to emulate the dongle being plugged into the machine. (I have tried this and it didnt work, the application didnt detect the dongle as being plugged in).
4) consider a usb over ip solution. I found this white paper and it details a product by a company called 'DIGI' called anywhereusb. I am about to purchase this device to test it out.
Does anyone do this in a different way? I also have one application that uses a serial port to communicate with the electronic door entry system, so I guess I'm going to need a serial over ip solution as well.