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BEA gives up on dual-core pricing confusion

Simplicity restored

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BEA has given up on charging a premium for software running on dual-core processors and decided instead to follow the per-socket models embraced by the likes of Microsoft and VMware. The software maker's move puts it in prime fighting position against Oracle and IBM, which have been slow to adjust their pricing models for new chips from AMD, Intel and others.

BEA will eradicate the 25 per cent premium it had been charging for dual-core chips from its entire price list. At the moment, the move most directly effects customers buying servers running on RISC chips or AMD's Opteron processor. Intel will soon have dual-core Xeon and Itanium chips that will fall under the new pricing program as well. Customers will now pay on a per-socket model or basically see no change from their single core CPU licensing schemes.

"The elimination of premium pricing for dual core systems underlies our commitment to providing a competitive pricing advantage against other higher priced solutions in the market," said Bill Roth, a vice president at BEA. "In addition, our new restructured pricing emphasizes our support for the Intel roadmap and clearly articulates our leadership position regarding the issue of dual core pricing, making it easier for customers to focus on innovation versus budget and integration issues."

Saying BEA enjoyed a "leadership position" on the multicore pricing front is a bit of a stretch. Sun Microsystems shied away from per processor pricing long ago and was followed by much more significant software makers such as Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell. IBM has agreed to use a per-socket model with x86 servers based on AMD and Intel chips but has maintained a per core model with its own, more lucrative Power-based systems. BEA had been playing somewhere in between these schemes with its confusing 25 per cent premium.

In the end, simplicity seems to have won out, which is good news for customers already flummoxed by myriad software pricing systems.

Roth's charge that BEA has put pressure on "higher priced" solutions is more accurate. As stated, IBM has tried to enjoy the best of both worlds, while Oracle has become somewhat of a multicore pricing laughingstock. Oracle requires customers to multiply the number of cores by .75 and then round up to the next highest whole number. It's an ugly system that seems doomed to failure as chips with even more cores arrive shortly from Sun and as Unix vendors and x86 ISVs push operating system and application virtualization. But why mess with a lucrative thing?

Rather comically, BEA announced the new licensing plan at Intel's developer conference. It went so far as to say it would support Intel's Pentium processor Extreme Edition desktop chip - currently the only dual-core part in Intel's line. BEA made no mention of AMD's dual-core Opteron chip in a press release, even though it currently supports that product and even though customers actually run BEA software on the server chip. ®

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