NZ customers eye Microsoft price change

Microsoft Inc.’s customers in New Zealand see its changes to per-processor licensing as improving their choice, but few are likely to take immediate advantage of the offer.

On April 1 the company introduced per-processor licensing terms for eight of its server products. The change could lead to significant cost savings for customers that use partitioning to segregate applications running on a single multiprocessor server, said Gartner Inc. analyst Alvin Park. Some customers had complained that Microsoft’s pricing required them to pay a license fee for each processor on their servers, even though the software may not have been running on all of them, said Park.

New Zealand organizations tend not to run Microsoft software in this way, though several are considering it as an option.

HealthAlliance Ltd. infrastructure planning manager Alistair Neave said the organization doesn’t run any Microsoft applications on partitioned servers but may do in future.

“As we continue our server consolidation program and the Itanium processor-based servers become more mainstream, then we certainly will be looking at partitioned servers to run applications like SQL (Structured Query Language). However, I view this change as a correction of a licensing anomaly rather than any form of concession.”

Auckland City Council Chief Information Officer (CIO) Ian Rae said the council doesn’t use partitioning for Microsoft products as part of its infrastructure. It has used a per-server license model so the change to per-processor charging won’t benefit it financially.

He said there may be cost savings, however, when partitioning live production application database servers. This is something the council might consider but not in the immediate future.

“There are issues with maintenance, upgrading and supporting them that would require some careful planning and thinking.”

Rae said it’s good to see some flexibility emerging in Microsoft’s thinking on licensing.

Using partitioning to cut licensing costs can be complex from a technology standpoint, but the new model offers the potential for big savings for some customers, Park said.

The issue mainly affects customers that consolidate single or dual processor servers on to larger systems as a way of cutting hardware and systems management costs.