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Dual-core Processors Challenge Licensing Models 176

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the breaking-the-norm dept.
ffub writes "Changes in hardware (such as dual-core processors and virtualisation) are making software licensing increasingly difficult for software firms. Companies still prefer the per-seat one-off license, while subscription models are favoured with software firms. But neither model reflects well the way software is used these days. The Economist looks at the situation and briefly touches on how Open Source could benefit from the muddle."
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Dual-core Processors Challenge Licensing Models

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  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BHearsum (325814) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:35AM (#13081061) Homepage
    Maybe this will get rid of licensing models that are 'per cpu'. I've never understood the logic in charging per CPU, anyone care to explain? One computer, one license. Or even better, no licenses.
    • My feelings exactly, for the vast majority of software I really can't see why they would charge based on the number of CPUs used. Especially since dual core etc. is going to become so common in the next few years.
      • To me, it's like charging the driver of a larger car more to renew his plates, than the owner of a compact car. It doesn't make any sense.
        • Re:Maybe (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          To me, it's like charging the driver of a larger car more to renew his plates, than the owner of a compact car. It doesn't make any sense.

          In many jurisdictions, to encourage the population to drive smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, they do exactly that. The US had a gas guzzler tax (don't know if they still have it) that was a one-time tax if your car didn't get 20 mpg or so.

        • Re:Maybe (Score:2, Interesting)

          by byteherder (722785)
          To me, it's like charging the driver of a larger car more to renew his plates, than the owner of a compact car. It doesn't make any sense.

          Most states charge based on the value of the car. This makes no sense other than trying to stick it to the rich. If you have a expensive compact car, you could pay more than someone with a inexpensive but larger car.

          Charging based on weight makes more sense. The heavier the vehicle the more damage it does to the roadway. Thus larger cars should pay more, they cause m
          • Shhh

            That comment was unamerican and liberal which hurt the pockets of the energy industry.
          • Actually, basing it on weight would be also flawed a little. A car, according to law, can weight max 3,5 tonnes (here of course; if it's heavier then than it's classified differently (some would probably say it's SUV...), you need "better" license to drive it and...taxes are higher (quite the opposite tha with SUVs, huh?)). However for a road 3t makes almost no difference in comparison with 1,5. But a 15 or 25t truck...
            So in case of vehicles used for cargo this makes sense...not for cars IMHO.

            Here it's all
    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

      by inode_buddha (576844) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:43AM (#13081104) Journal
      I would bet that the "per CPU" license model dates back to a time when CPU's were much more expensive; it could reasonably be assumed that there would be many users using one CPU. In other words, the business model is a couple of decades behind the technology.
      • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Informative)

        by nurb432 (527695)
        I think it was more to get around the fact you could use one 'licensed seat' to access your application, but have 100's of people route thru that single seat. So they 'lose' revenue.

        This way they can stick you for 'expected load'.

        Remember too that once upon a time you were charged for use of that cpu TIME, not just a flat charge for access to it.. ( actually some of the big iron licenses is still based on a per cycle fee.. )

      • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Interesting)

        No, it's the other way around; if you have many users on one CPU, charging per CPU makes no sense (unless you charge a lot.) The idea, of course, is for the software company to maximize its revenue, so by charging per CPU for big multiprocessor systems built on cheap commodity processors (which, of course, describes the majority of server setups these days) they can make more money. The justification (other than "we want more money") is that roughly, they expect the number of CPU's to scale with the numbe
      • The problem is that multi-processor app scaling isn't easy, and the people to pay for that development should be the people that use multiple processors, hence, per-CPU licencing.

        If multi-processor coding were easy, wouldn't there be a lot more such programs?
    • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Interesting)

      by captaineo (87164)
      Rendering software is usually licensed per-CPU. It's a decent model since the number of CPUs in a studio roughly indicates how much it can afford to pay for software :). Though it seems likely that "per CPU" will soon become "per box" or "per OS instance" to avoid splitting hairs over the expanding jungle of multiprocessing technologies.
      • Per-socket seems like the fairest for those who insist on per-core or similar licensing.

        No matter how many cores or CMT/SMT virtual cores each core has, overall performance is ultimately bound by IO bandwidth and latency. Once a CPU's IO is maxed out, it no longer matters performance-wise how many cores/threads it has, any further processing power will be spent executing NOPs while waiting after IOs. With NUMA architectures (like Opterons), potential IO bandwidth scales (roughly) with the number of CPUs so
    • The more CPU's you have the more concurrent operations you can perform. With one CPU you can only ever process one task at a time, with Four CPU's you can process four tasks at one time, as if you had installed the software on four separate servers. Per CPU seems a lot more logical than per connection licensing.
    • Well easy, Profit! We should be thankful they don't change per transistor basis.
    • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)
      I'd imagine that it's partly due to how much harder it is to write good multi-threaded code that scales well with increasing numbers of CPUs.

      Yes, you're running the same code whether you have 1 CPU or 8, but if you do have more than one then you're actually benefiting from the additional effort (design, development, testing, etc). I imagine that the rationale is that it was harder and more expensive to write, why not charge more for it?

      On top of that, the vast majority of multi-CPU users are business user
    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Informative)

      by S.O.B. (136083) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:16AM (#13081249)
      Servers come in configurations of single up to 8 or even 16-way processors. Is it fair that a company with a server that has a single processor serving 100 users pays the same as a company that has a server with an 8-way processor serving 1000 users.

      Per CPU licensing was a simple metric that allowed software companies to scale their pricing so that it was fair to both the entry level and high end customers.

      As the article points out multi core processors are the processor companies' way of increasing performance without having to increase the clock speed and therefore keep temperatures down. Since software companies didn't care about the performance of a given processor, just how many you had, they shouldn't arbitrarily change the licensing model.

      At the company I work for I know that because of the per CPU model we intentionally bought servers with fewer faster processors. Even though in most cases those servers were more expensive than machines with more processors the amount we saved on licensing costs more than made up for the additional hardware costs.

      I suspect that in the end they'll end up with more of a performance based model similar to the MIP based licensing model on mainframes.
      • "Is it fair that a company with a server that has a single processor serving 100 users pays the same as a company that has a server with an 8-way processor serving 1000 users."

        Yes. When buying something, the fact that someone got a better deal than you is not "unfair", it's simply business. You can always try to use that as leverage while purchasing, but that still doesn't change the fact that what you pay is between you and the seller.

        Is it fair that there are people out there who paid less for the exa
        • So you agree that it's OK for the seller to charge different amounts to different users based on a negotiation.

          Well, performance based licensing allows companies to do just that without having to go through the negotiation. The price is stated up front rather than hidden behind closed doors.

          Also, performance based licensing allows even the smallest mom and pop shop, who likely can't afford a professional negotiator, to use the same software as multi-billion companies.

          Using your car analogy, people pay m
      • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

        by IntlHarvester (11985)
        Per CPU licensing was a simple metric that allowed software companies to scale their pricing so that it was fair to both the entry level and high end customers.

        Which works as long as the hardware companies scale their prices with # of CPUs. Historically, going from 2 CPUs to 4 often quadrupled the price of a server, and going to 8 quadrupled it again.

        The issue is that Intel and AMD are currently breaking this model. There isn't a substantial price difference between today's dual core system and yesterday
        • I agree totally. I don't think it'll be too long before we have performance based licensing. Likely the day after the first customer realizes that he has to buy 16 licences for the shiny new 8-way Pentium-D server they just bought and threatens to go to a different vendor.
      • by SJ (13711)
        Is it fair that a company with a server that has a single processor serving 100 users pays the same as a company that has a server with an 8-way processor serving 1000 users.

        Is it fair that a large company pays an artificially inflated price to use the software?
        • The alternative is to have a flat rate per server pricing structure so everyone pays the same amount, right? In that case the software company will likely increase the cost to maintain their income.

          Let's say the average server has 4 processors with a cost of $10,000 per CPU. In a flat rate pricing structure they would now have to charge $40,000 for the same software to maintain their income. So the small company that has a single processor machine now has to pay $40,000 instead of the $10,000 they used
    • The problem with per-computer licensing is that it encourages a company to just create one massive 500-processor computer and use VMWare to run all their software on that one computer. Then a 50,000-employee company only needs 1 license for their entire company.

      You can't just charge a fortunate for 1 license, since then nobody would ever start using your software, since most software tends to get piloted with small groups before working its way up to enterprise scale.

      I always thought a concurrant-user mo
    • by fa2k (881632)
      define: "computer"?
    • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheCaptain (17554)
      Or even better, no licenses.

      That is a really oversimplified and dangerous line of thought, IMHO. Even Linux and BSD have licenses...
      • Even Linux and BSD have licenses...

        Linux and BSD have distribution licenses. What they don't have are user licenses.

        No license is needed to use BSD or Linux, on as many machines or CPUs or whatever as you desire, unless you count the "no warranty" disclaimers in the distribution licenses as being "user licenses". This seems like a pretty nice model to me, though it may be considered a dangerous line of thinking from the perspective of some people (i.e. Microsoft).
    • by xixax (44677) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @01:05PM (#13081800)
      Until quite recently, our database software was on power unit licences. A formula number of CPUs x MHz x architecture is used to work out how much it will cost you to run the database. Why? Well they want people who are running huge databases to pay more, and size of server(s) is a pretty good measure, Amazon isn't going to run on a single CPU. That is, they charge as much as they think the customer can afford.

      While an interesting question, how does this question manage to rate as a "insightful"?

      Xix.
    • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spoing (152917)
      Maybe this will get rid of licensing models that are 'per cpu'. I've never understood the logic in charging per CPU, anyone care to explain? One computer, one license. Or even better, no licenses.

      Where do you draw the boarders between one 'computer' and another?

      If the licence were based on a per-metal-box basis, some clever folks would buy systems that are really clusters but are contained in a single box. Good for them, though it causes problems if you are the seller and supporter of the sofware.

      • by jd (1658)
        The distinction is highly artificial. For example, it would be perfectly possible to modify OpenMOSIX to be totally transparent, so that your 65535-node cluster appeared as a single virtual computer. Now, is it one computer or 65535?

        (This requires all resources, all of memory, everything to be directly addressable from every node, which is getting closer with DSM and the Plan9 filing system.)

        Per CPU makes some sort of sense in clusters and grids, as the more CPUs you have, the more powerful the system,

      • Where do you draw the boarders between one 'computer' and another?

        Well, I've never been known for my artistic skills, but if I had to, I'd probably choose to draw them waiting outside the headmaster's office. In a corridor with good lighting. And maybe a dictionary.

    • Per CPU is done in server modules or anything that does a lot of processing (databases, rendering engines, etc). The idea is that these systems will always have the latest CPUs or close to it, and they are generally large enterprise machines.

      Take for example a big enterprise database- you could have 16 single processor machines or one 16-way machine- You get the same use out of it, yet in the traditional model, the view of one machine doesn't work.

      The more CPUs, the more processing power, the more movie
    • The logic is that if you have a more powerful machine, you're able to serve up more customers with less hardware. Companies assume that you'll buy the fastest (or near-fastest) processors to acheive that. In theory, the software is being used to serve your business needs relating to x consumers, in direct proportion to the state of computing today. However, if you buy an SMP box, you're effectively "cheating" (i.e., jumping ahead of Moore's curve) by getting a product that will serve x * 1.387 or somesuc

    • I am in the process of buying a bunch of Sun Hardware. 2900's and 25K's. All with Ultra IV Dual Core processors.

      When I was putting together my hardware and software budget I got assurances from both IBM (for Websphere and MQ) and Oracle (9i and partitioning...(yes you actually have to pay for partitioning, per CPU)), that I would continue to pay 'per cpu', not 'per core'. So my 6 CPU 2900's will count as 6 each, not 12.

      Same for Veritas for their clustering and disk management software, now that I think ab
    • Maybe this will get rid of licensing models that are 'per cpu'. I've never understood the logic in charging per CPU, anyone care to explain? One computer, one license. Or even better, no licenses.

      Because the easiest way to differentiate between a "high end" (ie: large, critical computer-based business processes, more able and more willing to pay more $$$) and a "low end" (ie: small, business is probably not completely dependent on computers, not a lot of $$$ to throw around) business is the presence of mul

    • Licenses are contracts. If they feel like it, they can offer to charge you based on the number of heartbeats you have during a computer game - mandatory pulse monitor wearing required, or the game won't run. If they feel like it, they may may offer to charge you based on which way the wind blows, or the position of stars.
      It's your job as a customer to say, you know what, screw you, stick your heart rate monitor up your precious ass, because I'd rather not play under these circumstances. They can offer, noth
  • by inmate (804874) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:46AM (#13081119) Homepage
    This won't be the first time that licensing has faced such a crises.

    In the early days of the web, I worked on a web-based project which connected to a MS SQL-Server database. The licensing issue was very confusing since the information in the database would be made available to anyone who came to site (and we expected a few hundred regular users), but technically everything would be accessed by through only one account (the webserver!).

    I called the local MS office and they confirmed that we only need one licence for this model.
    Based on this information, we rewrote a major internal application to be entirely browser based - and then dropped all our seat licences bar one.

    Needless to say, MS had a absolute fit!

    About a year later we received an incredibly confusing document outlining license-requirements for internet and intranet applications.

    • by blowdart (31458) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:58AM (#13081171) Homepage

      There's actually a specific internet connection license for that sort of setup, however it's interesting to note that Microsoft have said, for licensing purposes, dual core CPUs count as a single cpu [microsoft.com].

      Compare to Oracle [theinquirer.net]; if you buy a licence for a dual core machine, the second core is only counted as .75 of a CPU, as is each succeeding core. However Oracle rounds all numbers up, so .75 = one for licensing, and 1.75 = two, roughly the same cost as if you bought two licences. And so on. It's only a saving if you have 3 dual core cpus or more.

      • There's actually a specific internet connection license for that sort of setup, however it's interesting to note that Microsoft have said, for licensing purposes, dual core CPUs count as a single cpu.

        Compare to Oracle; if you buy a licence for a dual core machine, the second core is only counted as .75 of a CPU, as is each succeeding core. However Oracle rounds all numbers up, so .75 = one for licensing, and 1.75 = two, roughly the same cost as if you bought two licences. And so on. It's only a saving if y
    • You're in pretty good company from what I've seen. Much of it has to do with the greed of a the database companies.

      For instance, I know of an academic institution which used an Oracle database to back a user directory which the e-mail system queried for address resolution. If they had 20,000 e-mail users, Oracle wanted them to buy a 20,000 user license.

      So, a proxy was written and the licensing requirements were satisfied. It made financial sense to do so at the time but today the right answer today mig
    • my companies poor system engineer went thru much the same thing last year. We run lots of plant monitoring software from a half dozen different vendors and several were really upset when the guys pointed this MS boondoggle out to them.. we ended up sprining for several extra unlimited user licenses [which really wasn't that bad for our size company] but but it really put the panties in a twist of some of the vendors that said we could just "plug it in" to our network and let lots of people pull the data..
  • by putko (753330) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:47AM (#13081127) Homepage Journal
    I had not thought about the problem of virtual servers.

    E.g. suppose I have a big-ass mainframe that emulates a few PCs, just to run Excel now and then (for legacy reasons). Once a month, we reconfigure the mainframe just for a batch job, so that some of its resources are used to simulate 10 PCs.

    How do you price that? A mainframe license? 10 separate PC licenses? What about the fact that I'm only doing it now and then, and not using it regularly (8-10 hours a day)?

    I just wish the article had used the term "price discrimination" -- that really explains it all.

    Q: How much does it cost?
    A: "How much ya got?"

    • Many in the software industry including Microsoft would like a per user + [per cpu license.

      They do this shit all the time in negotations with large firms. If two people use one machine then you need to pay for Excel twice.
      • Actually, if you don't use your laptop at the same time you use your desktop (or you're not at work at the same time you're at home, etc), you don't need to have 2 licenses for using software from Microsoft.

        Some times ago, we asked Microsoft if a big guy from the company could share an Office license with his daughter, and they just said that "as long as they both didn't use it at the same time".

        Otherwise, what would be the use of installing the shortcuts in "common/start menu" instead of the installing

        • I know.

          Personally I think its bullshit. This crap is what got me into Linux in 98.

          The problem is we no longer own our machines if Windows is required and MS comes in and dictates hwo we use their software.

          Still years ago we had a blanket license that covered everything but the MS salesmen still convinced teh CIO to purchase per user + per cpu licensing just to make sure because they did not want to scare poor old MS from doing an audit.

          Then another MS salesmen/consultant would say something different ab
      • They do this shit all the time in negotations with large firms. If two people use one machine then you need to pay for Excel twice.

        No, you don't. This blatant FUD.

        Indeed, Microsoft specifically have a licensing scheme that allows employees to have a copy of something like Excel at home and use it, without having to purchase an additional copy.

    • Working with VMWare ESX, I've found that most vendors charge per physical CPU.

      This works out pretty well if you have high enough VM density to take advantage of it (>n VCPUs where n is the number of physical CPUs in the box.)

      It kind of sucks when you just have a single instance of a server which won't be hit very hard (perfect case for slapping in a VM) and you would have to buy a 4 CPU license if you virtualized it.
      • I have a dual-processor dual-core VMWare ESX server that doesn't emulate SMP so to each host it looks like a single processor. So I figure if I have 8 hosts running on that ESX server, each averages out to half a CPU so Oracle and others should only charge me half price since I'm only using half a processor Right?!
  • I've always thought that per box/machine licensing made the most sense. Although, the concurrent user model works well in environments where users float between machines (school computer labs, huge offices, etc). Hence different licensing plans for different scenarios. The whole one license per core thing seems somewhat outdated to my feeble mind...
  • by Zweideutig (900045) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @10:54AM (#13081155)
    I know we have heard about this quite awhile ago on Slashdot, when Oracle wanted to consider a dual core CPU two processors [slashdot.org] I think companies like Oracle will be forced to think of dual core CPUs as simply one CPU that handles multiple threads well, especially with dual core CPUs not only coming from the Intel side, but also from IBM [slashdot.org] If I remember correctly Oracle found it difficult to determine the difference between dualcore and two CPUs. In the end, everyone will buy dual core, for the same reason everyone buys LCD monitors (it is seen as better, even if maybe it isn't.) Software companies will be forced to bend, hardware companies won't have to, because consumers are not going to put up with paying twice as much for what appears (on the outside) as one CPU. Should I be charged twice the parking fee because my 2001 Excursion has twice as many cylinders as the car beside it? I don't think so.
    • Well, apparently, Oracle has changed (http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5788788.html [zdnet.com]).

      Still, charging 1.5x the price for each piece of software run on dual-core boxes (or more) is really evil.
    • How are LCDs NOT better than CRTs?

      They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but that does not mean that LCDs are not better for some people (or most).

      LCDs are lighter to carry (good for LAN parties), use less desk space (good for saving space), offer a totally different way of viewing images (the image you see is not scanned to the screen 72 times a second), some people can't stand CRTs. And newer LCDs have a very high response time, so they're good for gaming. Plus, they use less power.

      Am I mis
      • Am I missing something?

        Yeah, a fair bit actually. If you're doing professional press work, digital photography, or video, you need the best true-to-life colour fidelity achievable on your monitor, and that means (very expensive) CRT, not LCD.

        Also, I don't think any LCDs can match the pixel response time of CRTs, so the hardcore FPS gamer might notice a difference enough to prefer a CRT. My idea of a good game is more along Nethack lines, so I wouldn't personally know.
    • LCDs have advantages over CRTs... they also have disadvantages.. the 'advantages' are percieved tob e greater than the disadvantages. the only difference, is that dual cores only real 'disadvantage' compared to single core is that by having dual cores you can't have as many transistors in each core, as compared to an identical silicon die size single core design. but it's difficult to design a single core processor that effeciently uses all it's transistors. especially as transistors get smaller, and y
  • CPU Licensing?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lizdog (650189)
    Are we getting to a point where the term CPU loses its relevance? In gaming, is the power of monitor card selected as important than the speed of the CPU? Does the disk array attached to the database have more impact on speed than CPU? Should these also be factors in license models?
    • In gaming... but gaming is a very niche market. This is talking about enterprise computing, where processors are still being pushed very hard. I don't think those are really factors because there are still many things you just throw more and more CPU's at to get 'em done.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft per cpu licenses are considered per socket, not per core. Makes getting a single dual-core cpu preferable to dual single-core cpus.
    • Lets make no mistake about this, MS didn't do this because of some enlightened generosity, they did it because Linux is kicking their teeth in over the server space.

      Funny how open source models aren't having any of these licensing "problems". To Linux unrestricted copying on the internet and huge multicore systems are a benefit, to proprietary vendors they are a threat ... now which side do we think is going to win out over the long term here?
      • novell dropped server licenses. you pay per user, get your first server license in the box that the user license came in and download extra server licenses for free.

        5 users and one server costs (software wise) the same as 5 users and 20 servers!

        eric
  • Robber Barons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forq (133285) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:07AM (#13081212)
    The software industry has gotten away with robbery for too long. Year over year they astound us with their skyrocketing costs, and as computing complexity goes up, they find more and more excuses to not deliver the support you're paying for. "We cannot support you because of X." X being any reason they can find. Upgrades, new hardware they don't have in their support matrix, virtualization. Whatever the reason, the very first order of business for those support folks when you call for help is to find a reason to not support you. And now they want more money. To pay the outsourced first level support folks that know all about how to determine if you're unsupportable, and nothing about how to support the products.

    Ridiculous.
    • The software industry has gotten away with robbery for too long.

      You have obviously never worked on a medium to large sized quality software package before. The cost for market research, design, development, QA, marketing, etc. is in the millions for even smaller projects. Even for "open source" projects where people donate their personal time to work for "for-profit" organizations, there is still a cost around the non-dev related tasks that are required to get a commercial level product shipped. I used to
  • > Companies still prefer the per-seat one-off license

    I understand now why they don't have any seat at my new work: everybody just sit on the floor, in a hippie style...

    duh !
  • How about per cycle? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wandazulu (265281) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:20AM (#13081264)
    I'm surprised no one is talking about this, as it seems it was all the rage back-in-the-day (and I believe still going today): charge by the cycle for the app.

    Case in point: I worked with IBM's MQSeries product as a link between a mainframe and a webserver. The MQSeries license for NT was something like a flat $6000. On the mainframe, however, it was some ungodly amount for the tapes, then they charged a per-cycle fee *and* a monthly maintenance contract.

    As part of load testing, I wrote a program that would spit the complete works of shakespeare back and forth, over and over, to the mainframe and back using multiple threads. Two weeks of testing cost the company an extra $12,000 because of the cycles expended.

    I noticed too that starting with SQL Server 7.0 that the explain plan feature can also show the number of cycles spent on a particular step. I would think Microsoft, with that info, could, if they wanted, go to a similar model with SQL Server if they so chose (and wanted to effectively kill the product).

    And now that I think about it, my Unix account back in the early 90s had a cost associated with it too...I was allotted something like $1000 worth of what I assume was cpu time, and sure enough, enough attempts to get Nethack to compile and I was back in the office begging for more "money".

    Ah, the good old days. I think.
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      As part of load testing, I wrote a program that would spit the complete works of shakespeare back and forth, over and over, to the mainframe and back using multiple threads. Two weeks of testing cost the company an extra $12,000 because of the cycles expended.

      To bilk or not to bilk
  • Amazing that this is turned into a problem. I've dual processor Macs for years. On the other hand, given the pricing of terrible (buggy and user-unfriendly) software like Adobe Acrobat standard and MS Office, their developers seem to have implemented double pricing as standard, even for single processor machines like laptops.

    Bert

  • Licensing an OS on a per CPU basis would have made BlueGene prohibitively expensive.
    So it runs Linux.
  • by wfberg (24378) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:49AM (#13081395)
    Per CPU licensing makes no sense anyway. It gives no indication how heavily an application is used, or how important it is to a business. For databases, it would make more sense to have a license for X thousand transactions, or Y amount of data. After all, databases are used for doing transactions and storing data. (Don't let Oracle get wind of this idea though, I've got an Oracle database that's more than 1GB in size but compresses down to 30MB! This pricing model will be the ideal excuse for them to take up even more disk space..)

    The reason licenses are tied to hardware or to seats is probably because it's easy to justify these as a "cost of doing business" to suits. While projects usually have the greatest difficulty getting an OK for money to go towards programmers, expensive hardware is purchased willy-nilly, on the basis of "well, now we've got this application, we need to run it, or else the money we spent on programming it is wasted!". So tying your database license to CPUs makes more of an afterthought. (Just like performance, scaleability and actual volumes are an afterthought).

    The same goes for seats; you just HAVE to license one copy of Microsoft Office or an OS or a database for every employee, otherwise you're paying (some) employees for basically standing around! Then, to recover costs, you make sure they have very little access to things like notepads, pens, or copying machines, since those dimes add up, don't you know?

    Call me a cynical bastard if you will..
    • For databases, it would make more sense to have a license for X thousand transactions, or Y amount of data.

      So you continue paying over time? Or you licence your RDBMS for X thousand transactions, and when it hits that limit, it stops serving requests? Similarly, what if you licence it for Y GB of data, and your needs increase?

      I've got an Oracle database that's more than 1GB in size but compresses down to 30MB! This pricing model will be the ideal excuse for them to take up even more disk space..

      So? If

      • So? If you're paying for Oracle RDBMS, cost of disk space is the least of your worries. (I believe that the licensing for Oracle on my current project is around 12K/CPU, and the DB machine has 4 CPUs...)


        You'd think so, but it's pretty annoying when your laptop's harddrive fills up.. It's not just 8-way opterons that Oracle gets installed on during development and testing..
  • licensing = overhead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bromoseltzer (23292) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @11:51AM (#13081405) Homepage Journal
    In my experience in academic computing support, one of the biggest headaches is license management on Windows and Macs. We tend to have lots of different software packages installed in ad-hoc seats or small networks. Each one may want a dongle or a dedicated server environment. Each one has different contractual terms about student vs faculty vs research use. Etc.

    All this, as I see it, is a pure waste of scarce resources. It is somewhat alleviated by sitewide licensing of a few products, but even these are not easy to administer. The whole scene is like the U.S. medical or tax system -- value is being delivered, but the administrative overhead is huge. All the costs of compliance are passed on to the end users and institutions.

    What a difference with Linux and OSS! Easy licensing is a big plus and it's not well enough appreciated.

  • per-thread (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rhythmx (744978) * on Saturday July 16, 2005 @12:21PM (#13081567) Homepage Journal
    Why don't the software companies license by something that they can control? A "number of threads" model would be more fair. Or at least, the license can't assume that all the hardware is there for it to use and profit from.

    If I had an 8 processor server running an existing application that I also wanted a low-end DB server on, I could just buy a single thread license instead of an 8 cpu one. Later, if the DB server couldn't handle the load, I could simply upgrade it to a 2 or 3 thread server.
  • I remember reading on /. a while back that MS decided that it would treat a dual-core processor as a single processor in licensing its software on a per-processor basis. I thought with MS pretty much dictating what goes in IT, all other vendors would follow suit.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Saturday July 16, 2005 @01:22PM (#13081894) Homepage
    I love capitalism. No really, I love watching people test just how hard they can screw each other in the ass for money without getting shot. Here's how I see it:

    Company ABC invests X money into developing product. They estimate sales of Y quantity. Divide X by Y to get a per-item cost, mark it up for profit and a support allowance, then sell it.

    The fact that I might run their software on multiple CPU's, or that it might be accessed by Terminal Server, doesn't change a single thing for the developer. They don't need to work harder, they don't lose sleep at night, their kids won't end up on Springer. It doesn't matter whether I use it to index my MP3 files, or run a Fortune-500 business with it. They did their work, and they get paid for that work. What happens afterward is not their problem, and more importantly none of their goddamned business.

    When people learn to take just compensation for their efforts, and give up the "fight" for riches, we'll wonder how we ever survived through capitalism. There is a set amount of monetary value in the world, the more you have, the less someone else has, and the more that person is likely to do nasty things to make up for the loss. So why don't you just be happy to eat every day and give me a goddamned break with your license gouging.
    • Company ABC invests X money into developing product. They estimate sales of Y quantity. Divide X by Y to get a per-item cost, mark it up for profit and a support allowance, then sell it.

      You've got it backwards - Company ABC forecasts a market for product Z and determines Y sales at N pricepoint. If N * Y is less than the projected costs of development and support (plus a decent margin), then the product is built.

      When people learn to take just compensation for their efforts, and give up the "fight" for

  • I think if they get too stupid with the costs of licensing, then Open Source software will start to take off even more. Why? It costs me ZERO or close to it to download a iso and run Linux one ANY number if servers or cores. Need support too? No problem. Run Red Hat Enterprise Linux with a support contract or find a company that sells support on a per incident basis. The thing is with all this dual core multiprocessing thing is people want a reasonable all you can eat pricing model. Charging per CPU o
  • Wha-Whuuu? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheoMurpse (729043) on Saturday July 16, 2005 @02:35PM (#13082331) Homepage
    Linux, the open-source operating system for Pentium-style processors

    Did anyone else notice that line and do a doubletake? I parse that sentence as implying that Linux is only for Pentium-style processors.
  • In college, for a chemistry class, the textbook included some a CD-ROM with some java software that we were supposed to use at home for our homework (or in a provided computer lab for the less fortunate). Anyway, I couldn't legally run it at home, because the shrink-wrap EULA prohibited running it on more than one CPU ...As my home system was a SMP athlon system (an affordable one too, using the XP-to-MP trick), I could not legally run it at home! What was even funnier was that when I mentioned this to the

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