Friday, March 6, 2009

The trend towards Overlicensing

Remember when you could buy a piece of hardware, and it was yours, and you could do with it what you wanted?

Maybe it wasn't always like this. I'd like to think that, anyway. I'm pretty young, and have only been in the field for a while, so maybe it was always like this and I didn't know about it.

Here's the deal. I'm in the market for a SAN array. I was looking at Dell's offerings, since that's where we got our AX4-5, and browsing the options for the MD3000i. Here are some options which strike me as...just wrong.

License Keys for snapshots:

  • License key for Snapshot (4 per LUN) AND Virtual Disk copy software features, MD3000i [Included in Price]

  • License key for Snapshot software feature - 8 Snaps per LUN, MD3000 [add $600]

  • License key for Snapshot (8 per LUN) AND Virtual Disk copy software features, MD3000 [add $1,200]

They even make you buy a license key if you want > 16 partitions
  • License key for 32 partitions software feature, MD3000i [add $1,599]

And the storage array isn't the only thing, by far. I have two 16 port fiber switches where I can only use 8 ports. Because I have to buy a license key to use the others. How ridiculous is this?

Does it cost them more money if I want to use more ports? No.
Does it cost less to send out a switch with disabled ports? No.
It's just frustrating as hell.

Of course, it's the same with software licensing. I can buy a license for RHEL, but I can only update the software for the first year, unless I give them another $300.

What is really happening is that installing RHEL is free. An account to connect to the update server is $300 / machine / year.

Similarly, I'm willing to bet that internally to Brocade, the switch hardware is some percentage of the price I payed, and the rest of the price is the license for using the 8 ports I have.

It's still ridiculous, and doesn't endear them to me whatsoever.