Multi-Core CPUs Raise Licensing Issues

Users and vendors are both grappling with the impact on pricing models as a result of the introduction of multi-core CPUs. The choice between pricing per user and per server grew more complicated a few years ago when multi-processor servers came into broad use. With two-thirds of new servers expected to ship with multi-core CPUs by the end of 2006, software publishers are anything but unified in their reaction. Is a dual-core CPU one or two CPUs for licensing purposes? Consensus appears to be a long ways off.
Oracle, always looking for a way to improve licensing revenue, counts the number of cores. Microsoft counts only the number of CPUs. IBM, trying to have it both ways, counts by cores for some types of CPUs, but not for others.
The situation looks a lot like when multiple CPU servers first hit the mainstream IT market. Once performance gains come near to or exceed 2x a single core, it will be hard to argue against per-core pricing, so some type of per-core pricing looks inevitable. While large organizations will compensate by running-and needing-fewer servers (with more cores), small organizations are likely to end up paying more unless publishers make additional adjustments to their pricing models.

Questions To Consider

  • How will the deployment of multi-core CPUs affect your market?
  • What do you need to do to plan for this change?
  • What is the next step you need to take to ensure that you lead the market?

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