Server licensing: why doesn't Microsoft make it easier?
Posted on 1 Nov 2010 at 11:59
Jon Honeyball wonders how many Microsoft customers are confident they're buying they right licence
When it comes to server licensing, I consistently hear two very different views.
One says “well, we phone up our licensing agents and they just send us a big bill”, while the other says “we looked at the documentation, couldn’t make sense of it, decided on a particular solution and bought that, and hope we’re doing it right”.
Neither approach is particularly satisfactory, so you’d think Microsoft would explain and clarify the various issues surrounding licensing. And it does, up to a point.
Take SQL Server as an example. It’s actually a good example, because not only do a lot of people use it raw as a database engine, but it lives underneath a lot of Microsoft technologies too.
In fact, it’s quite difficult to find a server-side product that Microsoft ships today that doesn’t employ some flavour of SQL Server.
It’s difficult to claim that tiddly fish is just a shrunken version of the supertanker edition, but Microsoft decided to call all of them SQL Server
At the high end SQL Server scales up to huge databases running on monster servers, while at the other end it scales down to desktops, laptops and even Windows Mobile – it’s difficult to claim that tiddly fish is just a shrunken version of the supertanker edition, but Microsoft decided to call all of them SQL Server.
The document “SQL Server 2008 R2 Quick Licensing Guide” is a PDF file available for download that runs to eight pages. Another document, “SQL Server 2008 Licensing Guide”, runs to a more reassuring 60 pages spread over ten chapters.
Both are fabulously complex and contain mentally entangling sentences like “Microsoft offers a Per Processor licensing model to help alleviate complexity”, which might fool you into believing that the world is indeed flat.
If you thought things were complicated running SQL Server on a physical server, they become brain scrambling when you run SQL Server on virtual machines.
At this point you fall into the world of “OSEs” (Operating System Environments), how many cores you have, whether Hyper-Threading is turned on, whether you’re using the multiplexing software model and so on.
There’s more complication still when you deal with multiple sites, datacenters, and the whole upgrade route is enough to make your head spin.
I can understand why Microsoft does this: it wishes to provide a functional product at each price point while maximising its revenues – and clearly, if it sold the Datacenter edition for £100 it would be losing money, while customers wanting low-end functionality won’t pay thousands of pounds per processor. Nevertheless, it’s far too complicated, and fewer, simpler price points would suffice.
Microsoft probably would respond that they’re cheaper and less complicated than those of Oracle, which may be true but isn’t much reassurance to us customers.
It would be interesting to know how many readers are confident that they’re buying the right licence, and whether or not they had to call on third-party assistance.
What about CALs?
Oh but what about those CALs?
Microsoft's favourite way to extract more money than you planned to pay. One CAL per server system, that can be per user or per computer, sometimes and then you can get the standard or enterprise versions depending on which features you want to unlock and you need to keep records off all this as the software doesn't care and won't ask for licence keys but if you get caught short boy will you squirm when they hand you the bill, still Microsoft can sell you APPv which can help manage and monitor all this at the client end, but don't forget to buy the CALs for that one too....
By Lorribot on 2 Nov 2010
If my experiences are anything to go by it's not just customers that don't understand Microsoft's licensing. Their license agents don't know either. When I wanted to find out my downgrade rights when Vista came out I got three different answers from three different agents. In the end I had to buy a copy of vista just so they could generate an XP license key (even though XP was licensed with the machines).
By magicmonkey3 on 8 Nov 2010
Agree with the points above, but don't forget to check what licenses are valid for what! A server 2008 license isn't valid for Server 2008 R2, but Server 2008 CALs are valid for either version (and indeed there aren't any specific R2 CALs). Then you get into terminal services...
I've not read up on it yet, but apparently VMWare have changed with the most recent release to licensing by amounts of memory installed. Clearly, the previous system wan't complicated enough!
By valeofyork on 23 Apr 2012
- The importance of load balancing
- Windows Phone App Studio: an easy way to create your first Windows Phone 8 app
- The end of Windows XP support: what it really means for businesses
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Using Buffer to manage your social media
- Microsoft needs its own Steve Jobs
- Forget credit cards: hackers want your Facebook account
- Can't get fast enough broadband? Here's what to do
- Leap Motion and the battle against UI stagnation
- How to build a really bad network
- Tech City: Easy to score when you move the goalposts
- How to remove SkyDrive from the Windows 8.1 Explorer
- Switching from iPhone to Android? Switch off iMessage
- Why is Google pumping more money into Firefox?
- Sky Broadband Shield review
- Samsung Galaxy S4: how to double your battery life
- Motorola Moto G review: first look
- IBM Watson meets Willy Wonka
- Google’s support policies shove users towards Chrome
- Lenovo Yoga Tablet review: first look
- Microsoft patches TIFF flaw in next Patch Tuesday
- Microsoft expands encryption over NSA spying "threat"
- UK Cloud Awards 2014: nominations now open
- BlackBerry says "we're still alive" as sales hit new low
- Has HP turned a corner?
- Adobe admits it's struggling to notify hack victims
- Microsoft rolls out Office 365 admin app for mobile
- Office 2013 Service Pack 1 to arrive early next year
- Backup the best defence against CryptoLocker
- UK SMBs can now buy ads on Twitter