Software

Sifting through the complexities of server software pricing

If you're in the market for new server software, be prepared for a complicated process in tracking down prices from some of the most popular vendors. Here's an outline of what you can expect from pricing models offered by Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM.

If you’re thinking of purchasing new database server software, it might be wise to set aside some extra time to sift through vendors’ complicated if not esoteric pricing models. IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft have different licensing methods and use different terms to define those methods, a scenario that may complicate things for the first-time buyer. This article takes a look at these three vendors and outlines what you can expect when pricing their server products.

Microsoft SQL Server 2000
If you’ve thought about purchasing a version Microsoft SQL Server, you can expect to pay a price based on two distinct licensing options:
  • ·        Processor
  • ·        Server/Per Client Access License

Processor
Under its Processor model, Microsoft charges a customer for a single license per central processing unit (CPU) in the host machine that is running the SQL product. With the Processor license, a customer is allowed unlimited client device access without the burden of per-client permissions.
Sponsored by SUN Microsystems
Introducing Sun's first Midframe servers that combine mainframe capabilities with midrange affordability:
The Sun Fire(R) Midframe server family.

For more information, check out TechRepublic's Server Architecture Briefing Center, or visit Sun Microsystems site

Server/per Client Access License
Unlike the Processor method, Microsoft’s Client Access License (CAL) doesn’t consider the amount of processors in the machine hosting SQL. Instead, CAL charges a flat license fee for the host machine and requires an additional per-client fee. A specific number of CAL licenses are included with the base server license price.

As you can see from the table (see Figure A), the edition that you choose may depend on the number of clients that you intend to attach to the host machine. For example, if you need more than 10 CALs, your only option is the Enterprise edition.

Figure A


IBM DB2
Although Version 7.1 of IBM DB2 is currently on the market, Version 7.2 is set for release in June. According to Jeff Jones, senior program manager of IBM’s Data Management Solutions Group, the pricing structure for the product is mostly unchanged while the actual prices have increased approximately 9 to 10 percent.

The pricing models for DB2 differ in accordance with the particular edition of the product. The editions are:
  • ·        Personal
  • ·        Workgroup
  • ·        Enterprise
  • ·        Enterprise-Extended Edition

Personal
DB2’s Personal Edition is geared towards a single user. There is a single, flat fee of $359 for the server software.

Workgroup
The Workgroup Edition of DB2 is an appropriate choice for departments within an organization. If there are a limited number of users or clients using the server, you can opt to pay $999 for the server software and then pay an additional $249 per user license fee.

However, if you intend to host a large number of clients with Workgroup, you can avoid the per-user fee by paying $14,250 for the unlimited user model.

Enterprise
Quite similar to SQL Server’s Processor model, DB2’s Enterprise Edition sets price in accordance with the number of processors the host machine is running. Expect Version 7.2 to run $20,000 per processor with unlimited users or clients.

Enterprise-Extended Edition
If you’re running multiple servers in a parallel environment, Jeff Jones claims that the Enterprise-Extended Edition is DB2’s most scalable edition available. Like Enterprise, the Enterprise-Extended Edition is priced on a per-processor model at $25,000; users and clients are unlimited.

A note on ASP
If your organization is an application service provider (ASP) and you’re interested in DB2, IBM will allow you to negotiate your own pricing based on a business metric like numbers of transactions, revenue, or a per-subscriber model. These metrics can be measured by months or quarters and are usually outlined in two-year contracts.

Oracle
Since December of 1999, Oracle has used its eBusiness pricing model as a basis for its server software licensing fees. Oracle recognizes three fundamental pricing methods of:
  • ·        Universal power unit
  • ·        Named User-Single Server
  • ·        Named User-Multi Server

Universal power unit
Perhaps the most complex of the three pricing methods, the universal power unit (UPU) figures price based on not only the number of processors in your machine but also the number of megahertz of each processor and the platform factors of the processor (i.e., Intel/CISC, Intel/RISC, or mainframe).

In order to track down the price of the software under this UPU method, you must calculate the number of UPU units and submit them to an Oracle sales representative. Luckily, Oracle’s Website offers a UPU calculator so you don’t have to reckon with the mathematics.

Named User-Single Server, Named User-Multi Server
Simply put, the Single-Server pricing method is a per-user or per-client fee restricted to one hosting machine. Alternately, the Multi-Server method charges per user of the client that allows hosting on more than one server. Like the UPU pricing model, actual prices are established with an Oracle sales representative. It’s important to note, however, that the Named User methods are regulated by minimum requirements. If you’re curious about the appropriate category for your needs, Oracle’s Named User Minimums Calculator can tell you where you stand.

Licensing options
After you track down the price of the software product with the help of an Oracle sales representative, you still must decide what licensing term you wish to apply to the product. You can choose from Oracle’s three distinct licensing units:
  • ·        Perpetual
  • ·        Four-year term
  • ·        Two-year term

Although the duration of these terms should be apparent from their names, the pricing model accompanying them is more complicated. The Perpetual agreement is priced according to the program it accompanies and will be determined in the licensing agreement with the product. The four-year term is priced at 60 percent of the product’s list price; the two-year term is 35 percent of the product’s list price.

Is server pricing a nightmare?
Do you have any suggestions for other TechRepublic members who are ready to price server software? Share your thoughts in our Discussion Center.
0 comments

Editor's Picks