IBM prepares to make per processor software pricing proprietary

PVU or PU?

Thought leaders

IBM's official claim with the PVU plan is that it's taking a "thought leadership" position on the multi-core pricing front.

Now, your reporter could make a stronger thought leadership - cough - claim after publishing a story way back in 2002 that stated customers were in for a harrowing time when multi-core chips arrived. IBM declined to comment for that story other than to say technology is "an adapting industry."

Right.

When dual-core x86 chips first arrived, IBM demanded two software licenses for the products. That wasn't a thought leadership position to take either, since other chip makers were already shifting to the per chip (aka per socket) model. IBM eventually changed its ways.

In the meantime, Microsoft, Intel, BEA, Sun, VMware and others have firmly adopted the per chip/per socket model that counts a processor as a single entity no matter how many cores it has. To us, that's the easiest concept of all to understand. You can run in-house tests and figure out how a chip stacks up on a given application and then multiply your projected license costs by 1.

Oracle was a pricing laggard as well, although less of a laggard than IBM. Last December, it revealed a fourth attempt at dealing with the multi-core conundrum. Oracle now uses a multiplier system where Sun's UltraSPARC T1 needs .25 software licenses per core, x86/EPIC chips need .50 and RISC chips need .75 licenses per core. Those of you who are brave enough can learn more about Oracle's pricing in this PDF.

Beyond all of the per chip/socket/core/PVU models, there are per employee, per user, per virtual machine (WARNING!) and per just about anything else you can think of mechanisms too.

If there's a thought leader in any of this, we can't find them, but we're pretty damn sure it's not IBM.

Watching this whole tragedy take place kind of makes you wish that the vendors could have delivered on the utility/grid/virtualization visions they promised long ago. Let's buy chips like we buy water!!

Getting from here to there is going to be a heck of a ride. Buckle up.

Our questions to you are - "What's the best model going? Do you like IBM's idea or would you prefer to do your own benchmarking in house? Do we need a consistent model among all of these vendors?" ®

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