back to article Think enterprise software is complex? Check out the licences

Enterprises shouldn't be surprised to discover they're having trouble understanding their enterprise licensing agreements. While Oracle, SAP and other big players publicly tout transparency and fairness in their licensing and pricing policies, customers often disagree when they get to the bargaining table or open the results of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's designed that way....

    ...spread FUD and enterprises panic and overspend, year on year.

    Even if you ask their consultants, they seem pretty clueless and just do a finger in the air method of calcualtions.

  2. Cliff

    The true costing model

    The prices are deliberately opaque so they can charge what they like.

    The real model is to work out how much the customer can stand before they walk away to a competitor, and charge $5 under that. The rest is smoke, mirrors, and post-rationalisation

    1. Skoorb

      Re: The true costing model

      To a certain extent, yes. Having a serious quote from a competitor is the way to go each time you want to buy a license, and to strongly consider buying at least one component from someone else anyway (like the DB for example).

      If someone else can do what you want, even if it is something like Microsoft Dynamics, don't force yourself on SAP.

      It doesn't matter how hard you push though, SAP are notoriously inflexible on pricing and terms compared to other vendors.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oracle licensing

    To be fair to Oracle, the licensing model for Higher Education is not bad. They provide the Oracle technology stack (database, application server) at 98% discount from list and base it on full time equivalent staff numbers. THere are still surprises in that when staff numbers go up, not necessarily an indicator of increased revenue in HE and not related to value added by the use of Oracle products, you must buy more licences and pay more maintenance. However this is based on a Higher Education Statistics Agency metric this is usually about 2 years out of date so can be planned for. That said, when staff numbers go down the licences are perpetual and so there is no reduction in maintenance or refund of licence costs. Consequently your cost base remains static even at a time of budget contraction.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Better go with SQL Server?

      Their license doc is only about 16 pages long, but is a summary, not full detail.

  4. The Serpent

    The SAP licence site

    is the worst thing I have ever used. I used to be a Business Objects admin a few years ago and when it came to re-licensing the installed products each year, well, I think it would be quicker to be beaten to death with a balloon on the end of a stick.

    Their descriptions of the various bits of Business Objects didn't match those in the software, the number of licences they had on record was always different to the number we had bought, almost every new page demanded you sign in again and if you happened to stumble on a likely looking combo, the licence key was generated by a member of staff who emailed it to you - so what was the point in the website? Why couldn't I just contact the staff directly? SAP don't allow you to do that unless there is a technical issue or complaint. The site being unfit for purpose isn't viewed as a technical issue.

    The one time they did try and help me, they told me our product combination was impossible and so it couldn't be licensed - despite the fact it was unchanged from the previous year and they were able to do so then! In many ways I miss Business Objects, but I don't miss SAP!

  5. a_milan

    Forgot Microsoft?

    Microsoft deserves a (dis)honourable mention in this article - just try to work out what you owe them, especially if you try to run any kind of application on Windows server in VMware...

    As many posters agreed, all of these licensing schemes are designed only to maximize profit and wrangling space and try to make tie-ins look more palpable.

    For example, to a CFO or just about anyone outside IT it would seem that MSFT and ORCL offer competitive virtualization platform, whereas in reality they're simply not worth the asking price.

    Microsoft nominally gives Hyper-V for 0, however you must license Windows Server Data center edition, plus SCVMM if you want to actually use it, plus maybe you need SPLA (maybe not), maybe you need External Connector (maybe not)... . the list is effectively infinite and changes every 6 months or so, yet the value delivered is far less than VMware Enterprise+.

    1. ElNumbre

      Re: Forgot Microsoft?

      Don't forget if you want to get clients connecting to servers that you'll need CALs of a particularly appropriate flavour, for both the OS and the application they're connecting to. Add in something like Citrix and you're in a whole world of pain.

      I think people who are "licencing experts" are either bullpoopers or wizards trained in the dark arts.

      1. Alan_Peery

        "You can just count the PCs..."

        > I think people who are "licencing experts" are either bullpoopers or wizards trained in the dark arts.

        Or people who think they are wizards, but really don't understand the issues. I found this when I was offered help in sorting out OS licensing that was taking "a long time", and the person sent to help thought you could just count up the PCs.

        I had been asked to reconcile a set of licenses to determine how many additional licenses would be required for upgrading to to Windows XP. The company was a merged entity of (if I remember correctly) three training companies, four consulting firms, and a small tin shifter. Each one of these had purchased PCs from multiple vendors, taken advantage of Microsoft partner agreements, and used MSDN collections to upgrade OS from the shipped OS -- with many multiple boot setups, and few instances of VMWare Workstation. The same OS version gained from different distribution channels came with different upgrade rights, and contracts (some missing) could have included the downgrade/upgrade right as a separate line on the original purchase order. There was (not surprisingly) no log of information related to each machine.

        That was before the CALs, office applications, lab kit, and classroom builds (live and stored on backup media)...

    2. Jon Massey

      Re: Forgot Microsoft?

      Sorry, but that's a flat-out lie that you have to get DCE to use Hyper-V. Enterprise and Standard come with fully-functional Hyper-V (albeit with different number of guest OS licenses included depending on the version).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " the company seldom varies from its internal price list when its salespeople close contracts". This is only telling part of the story. Alongside the pricelist is the discount which can range from 0-75%. While it may be fair to say that the price list is relatively static, that has little bearing on what the organisation will pay.

  7. Christian Berger

    I never quite understood why such a market even exists

    I mean you don't just install SAP R3 into a server and you are done with, those systems require a huge development effort to adapt them to the company. Wouldn't it be much simpler and more cost effective to develop your management software internally? I mean how much of SAP R3 do you actually need? Do you need new features of it? Wouldn't it be better to instead have something you made yourself (or contracted someone to make it for you, giving you the source code) so you could change it depending on what you actually want?

    Computing is now such a vital part of many businesses, why hand it over to another company?

    1. Graham 24

      Re: I never quite understood why such a market even exists

      Mainly due to delivery time and risk minimisation. Even if developing something like SAP internally cost less in the long term (which is a debatable, but entirely separate, point), buying software "ready made" drastically reduces the time before you get to use the software, and have it delivering benefits for the business, and there is no risk that the software will actually never be delivered, which is always possible with in-house stuff and internal management changes.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I never quite understood why such a market even exists

        SAP is about as "ready made" to your final product as recipe is to a final dish. Have fun implementing it. This friendly consultant will help, with the low, low price of USD 1200 per day.

        > there is no risk that the software will actually never be delivered

        Don't know whether serious.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I never quite understood why such a market even exists

          Ask Levi how their SAP went.

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Its the same with my greengrocer

    he comes round and replaces all the curtains and sleeps with the missus if I need another apple.

    Its all there in his part of the contract...

    Shame he wouldn't let me eat the apple.

    I've signed up for a course on how to get the best from pear2 though. Used to get those from the off license but he bought them up....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "shared the story of a long-time Oracle database customer who licensed the product on a per-user basis (a very favorable licensing method), but said they were convinced to change their licence model to per-core pricing - Oracle's current method of pricing its database - during maintenance renewal negotiations."

    I wonder if that was us. We got stung for a potential multi-million dollars in extra licences to cover our migration to quad oct-core servers. With no way back to per-user licences - we got creative. Half the cores in our Dell R900s are disabled!

    AC for very obvious reasons!

  10. Information Age

    Think enterprise software is complex? Check out the licences • The Register

    Being in the industry with one of the mentioned Software Company, my observation is while the product companies ensure maximization of the license revenues, smart customers spend time to go through the agreements upfront and negotiate excellent deals. It is only those customers who did not have the wherewithal to understand the agreements end up perceiving that they got a raw deal, more so the feeling of being cheated post audit. Well Ignorance is always bliss

  11. EatsRootsAndLeaves

    Oracle Licensing and Hard Partitiong

    "Only servers virtualised with Xen-based OracleVM can get the discount of "hard" partitioning. According to Oracle, every other hypervisor - including other Xen-based hypervisors - can deliver only "soft" partitioning."

    Oracle recognises numerous hypervisors that offer hard partitioning, IBM's PowerVM as one of them. Your article equates "x86 hypervisors" = "all possible ways to virtualise systems".

    Stare into the abyss at

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