Did you know there are CF Docker images? Have you wondered what were the licensing implications for using them?
[Originally authored March 19, 2019, latest update Aug 29 2022]
You may know that Adobe offers Docker images for CF and related CF services, for CF2021, CF2018 and CF2016. But have you wondered what the licensing is, to run such containers in production? This post addresses that question.
Let’s clarify first: using the images/containers for development is free, per typical CF Developer edition licensing, as covered in the CF EULA (which I discuss and link to in another post).
As for the licensing of containers for production, note that it varies between Standard and Enterprise editions, and for now the only information we have is the following brief sentences mentioned in the FAQ pages for each CF edition. (For now, there is no mention of Docker or containers in the EULA.)
For ColdFusion Enterprise, its FAQ page discussion on containers (“How do I license ColdFusion on containerized deployments?“) indicates that it allows 8 containers per license (from https://helpx.adobe.com/coldfusion/enterprise/faq.html):
ColdFusion Enterprise Edition allows a maximum of eight containers to be used for every Enterprise license, provided the underlying instance is licensed as per the ColdFusion End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).
As for that phrase about “the underlying instance”, the implication seems to relate to how CF is licensed per the number of cores on the box (physical or virtual, as discussed in the EULA). Of course, a challenge is that in container deployment (and orchestration), we may not have control over what “machines” our containers run on. (I discuss below how to reach out to Adobe to get questions answered.)
For ColdFusion Standard, the discussion of that same question in its FAQ page indicates instead that you need a license for EACH container (from https://helpx.adobe.com/coldfusion/standard/faq.html):
With ColdFusion Standard Edition, every containerized deployment needs to be licensed as per the ColdFusion End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). For instance, if ColdFusion is being deployed on two containers on a single VM instance, then both containers running ColdFusion will have to be licensed separately as per the ColdFusion EULA based on that VM instance being used.
Note as well that this licensing discussion applies just as well if deploying Adobe CF via Commandbox Docker images.
For more info
Again, there are certainly many questions one could have that are not answered by those. You should reach out to Adobe to ask more.
There had been acknowledgment in mid-2020 of a need to change the licensing for practical containerized deployment. Again, though, use of containers for dev is free. It’s just use for prod requires licensing, like with regular CF deployment. (And some people may only use containers in development, or for exploration.)
Maybe in time we may hear new info from Adobe on any licensing change regarding containers. I plan to update this post if I do.
Updates: Since originally posting this in Mar 2019, I have updated the post a couple of times, either confirming that the information is unchanged, or to update links.