Kudos to Microsoft for Dual-Core Chip Plans - Page 2

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-10-20 Print this article Print

Oracles vice president of global pricing and licensing strategy, Jacqueline Woods, is reportedly looking at licensing options, but Oracle didnt return calls by the time this column was published. Neither did IBM, which reportedly also considers dual-core processors as two processors. The stubborn adherence of IBM and Oracle to this view throws a roadblock in front of their customers adoption of cutting-edge technology. "It strikes me that treating dual-core processors as additional processors for licensing purposes is almost a case of the software industry taxing the hardware industry," noted Paul DeGroot, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in Kirkland, Wash. As it is, DeGroot pointed out to me, an application like SQL Server isnt very easily capable of distinguishing between a processors cores. Until its possible to virtualize a single core, customers are basically helpless. The technology isnt intended, at this point, to give customers the ability to run multiple instances of a database on separate cores. The day that multiple cores can achieve either that or virtualization, in which a dual-core processor is segmented so that an application only sees a single core, will be the time when its perhaps fair to regard dual-core as multiple-processor.
Meanwhile, DeGroot and others believe that theres a good possibility that in coming years all chips will be multicore. Customers wont be able to buy a server without dual-core. If at that point applications are still blind to which core is being used at any given time, vendors will simply have no right to point to processors and say, "Ah-ha! Double the database, double the bill," as they now are declaring.
Analysts are mixed on the dual-core transition outlook. Click here to read more. Microsoft grabbed the competitive edge with its announcement, but its all theoretical at this point, as dual-core isnt expected from AMD or Intel until next year. Nobodys using it, so licensing concerns are hypothetical. Whats of greater concern are licensing conundrums being faced in the here and now, with technology thats already arrived, such as grid and partitioning. With grid, for example, shared server resources mean we dont have a clue as to which processors are being used at any given time. Measuring on a CPU usage basis, as is Oracles scheme, just wont cut it with the companys 10g technology. When the company first rolled 10g out last fall, Oracles Woods said there were no plans to alter that scheme. IDC analyst Carl Olofson said at the time that Oracle would have to change that attitude with clusters. "If you think of this in terms of a cluster which is of variable size, at certain times of the year [when enterprises do end-of-quarter number-crunching, for example], lets say I want to add two more servers," Olofson said. "Thats eight more processors. I go from 16 to 24 processors total. Do I need a perpetual-use license for 24, even though I only use [the extra eight] one month per year? Customers are going to expect that if the configuration will be flexible, then the licensing should be as well. The way it stands now, youd have to license for the high-water mark." Next Page: Vendors fear lost revenues from usage models.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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