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Microsoft licensing 'broken', says G-Cloud expert

Microsoft's licensing complexity will be a challenge for the G-Cloud to overcome, according to G-Cloud architect Miles Gray
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Microsoft licensing complexity for the UK government's G-Cloud is an issue which needs to be overcome, according to one of the G-Cloud technical architects.

Licences from Microsoft are so complicated as to be "broken", according to Miles Gray, a hardware solutions architect for the NHS.

"I was talking to somebody from Microsoft, and he said that Microsoft licensing is just broken. He's right," Gray told the Cloud Computing World Forum on Wednesday. "Anything where you need a lawyer to understand [the agreement] is broken."

Gray told ZDNet UK that even using Microsoft's licence calculator can get "very complicated". He said that while end users of the G-Cloud would be cushioned from the effects of the complexity, the administrators would not.

The G-Cloud — or government cloud — is a government initiative to try to make the provisioning and procurement of IT software and services across government simpler. A central part of the G-Cloud will be an app store, where public sector authorities will be able to choose software.

"G-Cloud is acting as both producer and consumer," said Gray. "We need to make sure we are not over-licensed or under-licensed."

Microsoft architect Matt Deacon told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that Microsoft had a large product portfolio, which made licensing complexity natural.

"There are natural complications with a product portfolio the magnitude of Microsoft's," said Deacon, chief architectural advisor for the emerging technology group at Microsoft UK. "Large enterprises with internal developers need different licences. Everybody is looking to get the best out of the licensing model, and that breeds a level of complexity that has to be managed."

Deacon said that the G-Cloud would have a large supply chain, making licensing a challenge for the government. However, licensing would be cheaper than pay-as-you-go cloud services in the long term, said Deacon. "The pay-as-you-go model becomes expensive over time," said Deacon. "I wouldn't think that cloud overcomes that problem. At enterprise level, the per user model doesn't work."

Deacon said that paying by consumption gave the problem of users taking more than their fair share of bandwidth.

Microsoft open-source competitor Red Hat said that initiatives like the G-Cloud and cloud computing will present serious difficulties for Microsoft and other proprietary software vendors' licensing revenue streams. "The cloud has the potential to break the licensing model and pricing model for proprietary companies," said Phil Andrews, Red Hat regional director for northern and eastern Europe.

Werner Knoblich, Red Hat general manager for Europe, told ZDNet UK that investment in private companies depended on revenue, and that a large part of proprietary revenue came from licensing.

"Investors look at event revenues," said Knoblich. "The move to cloud consumption is having a huge impact on the stock price [of proprietary companies that rely on licensing]."

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