Adapting to Change

By Charles Garry  |  Posted 2006-02-15 Print this article Print

These moves have simply added complexity to licensing at a time when the market wants clarity. I believe the move by IBM is only the next step toward the inevitable in database licensing. I maintain that commercial vendors will be forced to offer license-free versions of their software for servers of up to 4 sockets. This is the dividing line between broad market and specialty high-end needs.
This is a land grab for market share, and commercial vendors need to adapt to a world where open-source databases can address many average workload needs. What open source cannot address is the major vendor support value chain. Open source is also never likely to cater to the needs of the very high-end database applications in a world where users would prefer to standardize on a small number of database platforms.
With Oracle primed to move aggressively into the "open source as commercial enterprise" space via its acquisitions of Innobase and Sleepycat along with the rumors of the further acquisitions of JBoss and Zend, the time is now for the move toward support-only models. Read more here about how other open-source vendors are reacting to the introduction of IBMs DB2 Express-C. While I praise IBM for raising the bar with the two-processor (four-core) limitation, its not bold enough. First, it is not offering companies a support-only option. To get that you still must buy a DB2 Express license. It is a move that defies reason. It only confuses the market when IBM offers both a DB2 Express licensed version and a DB2 Express-C free version that are virtually identical, with the exception that you cannot buy a support offering or get the nifty HADR (High Availability Disaster Recovery) option. Why not gain market share and be able to upsell support packages and options such as HADR? Click here to read about IBMs "Viper" DB2 Information Virtualization Server. Dual licensing might have made sense for MySQL because of the very nature of the GPL. But there is no such concern for DB2 Express-C. Without eliminating the distinction and offering a fee-based support option, DB2 Express-C comes off more as a gimmick, such as those offered by the other vendors. The free community support is great for developers, but IBMs core audience (Global 5000) will want professional, guaranteed support when they move to production. This is what has held back wider open-source adoption in the enterprise space. Who wouldnt want IBM standing behind a product? Not to mention the margins IBM could make on support and the wider adoption this would drive. So Im cheering for IBM today, but I warn them its not enough. If you want to lead you have to be bold and look at the bigger long-term picture. I dont believe that future will have room for traditional software licensing models. Why not lead the change? Charles Garry is an independent industry analyst based in Simsbury, Conn. He is a former vice president with META Groups Technology Research Services. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.


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