Why is there software licensing by the core?

Why is there software licensing by the core?

Summary: Stephen Shankland is reporting that Oracle has quietly cut database prices on some low-end servers using multicore processors. It's clear that Oracle's move is because Microsoft doesn't charge that way and is making some database inroads.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Stephen Shankland is reporting that Oracle has quietly cut database prices on some low-end servers using multicore processors.

It's clear that Oracle's move is because Microsoft doesn't charge that way and is making some database inroads. With any luck perhaps Oracle can be prodded to drop increased software charges for all applications running on multicore processors.

Why? It just doesn't make sense. Multicore processing is a hardware advance. Why should you have to pay more for your applications just because they run faster. More usage? It's a weak argument. Intel and AMD invest in the R&D and software vendors get to charge more. Great deal if you can get it.

Charging more for software because it runs on multicore chips means the following: As you upgrade your hardware infrastructure you get whacked with higher software fees.

Does that sound fair? According to Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio, software licensing should be based on the number of processor sockets--not the cores. Microsoft is the good guy in this one with Oracle sticking to its multicore story. DiDio says IBM also will do the multicore licensing scheme, but back off if you have enough heft.

"Vendors are responding to demands for more power and better performance by messing with their licensing," says DiDio. "Microsoft took the high ground here. A multicore licensing model is going to have a big impact--especially as virtualization takes off."

I don't get the rationale for charging by the core for software. And comment from software makers is hard to come by. Nevertheless, customers may want to examine how they are being charged for multicore processors.  Customers I've contacted have seemed pretty reticent about commenting on multicore software licensing models.

Perhaps these folks should speak up. After all, multicore licensing may explain why software costs are going up more than you expected.

Topic: Tech Industry

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10 comments
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  • Why is per socket OK while per core not?

    They're essentially the same thing. Not sure why one is/was acceptable while the other is not.
    ye
    • Per socket isn't ok either

      Once upon a time you had to modify your source to take advantage of multiple CPUs but that went out in the mid 90's. Since then there have been multi-processing systems that are based in the OS and all that's needed is a recompile of the source. It's been a decade of over charging the customer for providing zero additional value just charging the customer more because they have a better box.
      maldain
      • I don't belive it is quite that simple

        Why is its that so few application programs (mostly Photoshop and a few other Adobe products) recognize multi-processors?? If all that were required was a simple recompile, I'm sure lots of vendors would be shipping versions that take advantage of this increasing market.

        That is clearly not the case.
        JackPastor
  • Imagine

    Imagine if the price of cars would depend on the tires you mount or the gasoline we use.
    Hey, this BMW is 35,000 for 87 octanes gaoline and 42,000 if you use the 91 octanes gasoline. Ludicrous!
    Not average Joe
  • Nothing new here, it has always been this way in the IBM Mainframe world.

    The prices on IBM mainframe software has been licensed according to "Performance Groups" since day one. Frankly I'm suprised that it has taken vendors that sell software for other platforms this long to follow the same practices that IBM, CA, BMC and others have followed for decades.

    Bryan D Gatewood
    z/OS Systems Engineer
    piglet@...
  • "I don't get the rationale for charging by the core for software."

    The rationale is that they can get away with it, at least for a while, hoping that customers/victims have been sufficiently trained to put up with that kind of abuse from Big Software.
    Henry Miller
  • Have you read Windows EULA?

    According to MS's EULA for Vista it [b]does[/b] limit how many processors you can have on your system that you use their OS on. I guess the folks that upgrade to Quad-Core technology will have to move to Linux where we don't care how many processors you have on your PC.

    Quote from page ONE of Vista's EULA: "You may install one copy on the licensed device. [b]You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time.[/b] Execpt as provided in the storage and network Use (Ultimate Edition) sections below, you may not use the software on any other device."
    devlin_X
    • Depend on the definition

      MSFT says "PROCESSORS" and not "CORES" in the above EULA. That would be construed as SOCKET unless otherwise specified. Though, technically, a core IS a processor the fact is that the physical device is merely a MULTI-CORE processor.

      I have not yet seen MSFT include any verbiage in their communications which specifies licensing PER CORE, and in fact, they have led the industry in recognizing that the clock speed race is over, and that multi-core technologies represent the future of how CPUs will gain speed.

      What they NEED to do is ensure that their software improves its multi-threading and take advantage of the new paradigm. Actually, VISTA is a huge improvement over XP in balancing among the four cores in my desktop. ]

      Leftover mainframe mentalities that want to do byzantine calculations based on cores and clock speeds will eventually lose customers if they do not offer SIGNIFICANT features/performance benefits over competitors who "get it."

      Oracle and VMware had better start to understand that in the commoditized x86 space, customers with hundreds and thousands of cheap servers are not going to put up with the same crap as an admin of a single mainframe or pair of RISC boxes.

      Windows/Linux customers have a different mentality than big box folks.
      JackPastor
      • Exactly

        EULA means processor sockets and matches what MS has been saying all along.

        Each computer can have 1 or more sockets, and each socket can have a processor with 1 or more cores.

        So in the MS world, you could run vista on an 8 core (Total), dual processor system under the current EULA. Or at the end of 2008 if Intel is to be believed, a 12 core dual processor system.
        croberts
  • ... because there's no other real way to assess "value"

    The truth is that software is sold based on perceived value to the customer. There's never been (and I'm not sure whether there ever WILL be) a true way to assess value to each particular customer. Real Joel Spolsky's article on software economics (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckies.html).

    So vendors pick something upon which they can attempt to base their pricing on... and that "something" is NEVER going to be a perfect match. Why then, are folks surprised by vendor's attempts to pick metrics that are in their best interest and have the greatest likelihood of maximizing vendor revenue?

    What shocks me most, though, is that even after all this time, and all of the various vendor attempts to change licensing metrics over time (even when we all know that new technologies will consistently change the face of software licensing), people still don't change their software licenses to block changes in pricing based on these changes in technology.

    ~Jeff
    www.licensinghandbook.com
    jigordon