Keep an Eye on
TCO"> However, customers should also analyze total cost of ownership to see whether a smaller number of larger servers may actually cost less than smaller scale servers, after the full expense of hardware, software, network infrastructure and maintenance costs is tallied. Or, customers should just look for alternative software products that arent licensed on per-core terms, AMD advised. Software licensing is a complicated issue for a company like NewEnergy Associates, a subsidiary of Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. based in Atlanta that develops energy industry IT applications.Thats why, when the company software developers are creating new applications, "I beg them to use new and cool stuff that falls into a legal area that I feel very safe in," Tisdale said. The fewer licenses he has to sign, the better he likes it, he said, no matter what server or processor type the application is supposed to run on. Tisdale said he tends to like working with J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and other Sun technologies because the licensing terms are generally uncomplicated. "If it is an oddball [platform] I tend not to like it," he said, because highly specialized, rarely used or highly proprietary technologies usually are burdened with complicated licensing requirements. Sun Microsystems started offering per-employee licensing terms for its middleware technology when it started shipping dual-core SPARC IV processors, which it has been for more than 18 months, said John Fowler, executive vice president with Suns Network Systems Group. "One of the things that dual-core technology does, fundamentally, is it pushes people toward looking at different kinds of software licenses than just a per-CPU license, which at this point is fairly antiquated," Fowler said. Software licensing has the potential to become even more complicated when chip manufacturers start shipping eight-core CPUs. "If you look at both SPARC and Intel, they have multithreading in addition to multicores," Fowler said. At that point, "its very difficult to understand what the definition of a CPU is" for software licenses purposes, he said. Suns eight-core SPARC processor, due for shipment in early 2006, runs four threads per processor, so it appears to the operating system to be a virtual 32-processor system on a single chip. "That is a radical example of multicore processing that is going to place more pressure on software licensing," Fowler said. Sun is offering a $140 per-employee license for Suns middleware stack, he said. "The idea is that you pay $140 per employee at your company and then you use the software on as many or as few CPUs as you wish to and on as many cores as you wish to," Fowler said. As multicore processors continue to proliferate, software vendors will have little choice but to move away from processor-based licenses and fees, Fowler said. "The general trend from software companies is going to have to be toward site licenses, per-employee licenses or some other usage-based licenses, and not hardware-based licenses," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Whenever NewEnergy builds a new application, it might require the company to sign license agreements with as many as 18 different software vendors for a product that will run on the Web or on various processors, said Neal Tisdale, NewEnergy vice president of software development.