Licensing Plan Makes Microsoft a Utility Player
Opinion: A decision to continue charging for server software based on CPUs and not cores will make Microsoft server software a much more attractive alternative to utility computing providers.One name that doesnt come up too often when you are talking about grid or utility computing is Microsoft. Theyve staked some ground in the high-end space with their High Performance Computing initiative, but they arent really on the same playing field yet with the likes of Sun, IBM, or even HP, Veritas or Red Hat. But a licensing announcement made last week may signal a change in their status. On Oct. 19, Microsoft announced that they would continue to license their server products on a per-CPU basis, and not on the per-core basis embraced by most major enterprise server software vendors. For those of you not familiar with the core vs. processor issue, the next generations of AMD and Intel Server-class CPU will contain two cores per physical CPU. There will be hardware support in the single CPU for what was previously a dual-CPU configuration (as opposed to the currently shipping Intel Hyper Threading technology, which makes a single CPU appear to be two CPUs to the operating system and applications). To read more about plans by Intel and AMD for dual processing cores, click here.
The decision to continue charging for server software based on CPUs and not cores will make Microsoft server software a much more attractive alternative, especially to utility computing providers offering scalable solutions to their customers. Software licenses, especially for applications such as enterprise database servers, can easily run into the five- and six-figure range for large installations. For a service provider offering capacity on demand to their customers, there is the need to have sufficient software licensing to handle as many CPUs as a customer might plan to throw at an application. This means that an on-demand application model has to, in some fashion, pay for software licenses which might not be currently in use.