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May 2012, Iss. 2

Business application software licensing a labyrinthine puzzle

If some of the smartest minds are building more and more robust business applications, shouldn’t business application licensing evolve into a set of simple methods and metrics? Licensing, it turns out, is more complicated than ever. Years ago business applications could be licensed by the size of the server they were installed on. But today’s multicore, multiprocessor servers are more powerful and more capable of being sliced into virtual machines that chew up simple metrics. Some software vendors cling to processor-based pricing, while others create elaborate systems that assign values to various components to create maze-like licensing tables. What about the cloud, Software as a Service (SaaS) and things like user-based pricing? Do they provide answers? Not really. Business application licensing challenges just morph with computing trends. For some of those trends, such as cloud computing and virtualization, software licensing scenarios can have a negative effect, shackling companies to traditional computing models rather than...

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