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The Skinny on Microsoft's New Cloud Pricing

Software licensing is way more complicated than it needs to be, and moving to the cloud, especially using your existing apps, offers a whole new wrinkle.

Microsoft, which is "all in the cloud," wants its customers equally in, and is tweaking its Software Assurance volume licensing program to ease the transition. The basic idea is through "license mobility" you can use what you already paid for to run on your servers and move that software to the cloud.

Analyst firm Directions on Microsoft analyzes license mobility, and their analyst John Cullen spoke to Microsoft watcher and Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley about all the gory details. Licensing comes easy to Cullen, who for half a decade crafted volume programs in Redmond.

According to Cullen, mobility is an attempt to lure IT to the cloud, but also a lifeline for Software Assurance, which could end up irrelevant as computing shifts off site.

The Microsoft side of the equation is not the most complicated part. The tricky area is continuing to pay Microsoft fees while at the same time negotiating new fees with a hosting company. It is unclear whether, in the final analysis, you'll save or lose money on this deal.

While I may have mentioned the Microsoft side is a bit less hairy than with hosters, it ain't exactly second grade math. Here's an example from Cullen:

"A scenario where you 'win' (licenses let you do more in the cloud than on-premises): We're running one SQL Server workload on a dual proc on-premises server licensed with two SQL Enterprise proc licenses. You can move the workload up to a multitenant hoster with a quad proc box, at times using more proc 'horsepower' than you did when on premises, and yet you only need to allocate ONE of your two SQL Enterprise proc licenses to do so."

Not exactly nuclear science, but not simple either, especially when you have multiple servers, multiple apps and myriad VMs to match. Break out your HP EasyCalc 300 to figure all that out!

Has the cloud made licensing easier or harder? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/16/2011 at 12:47 PM


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