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All-Access

By Steve Jones,

I had a briefing with Embarcadero recently where they wanted to talk to me about their new products. I don't attend a lot of these, mainly because they often turn into sales pitches that I'm not interested in, but in this case I was intrigued.

Years ago I worked at a small firm in Denver. I was the primary DBA, and we were re-architecting some of our applications. I found myself in need of a modeling application to help coordinate all the changes to tables. At the time ER/Win and ER/Studio were my two choices, with ER/Studio being almost half the cost of ER/Win and I convinced my boss at the time to spring for the $2,000 or so for the license.

I started making changes to our models and wanted to share things with our developers. At the time I had two choices: I could print out a bunch of pieces of paper and tape them together or I could purchase additional licenses of an ER/Studio reader application at a few hundred dollars apiece. I'm sure you could guess which option my boss had me use.

This wasn't conducive for multiple people working together, especially as we made many changes in a short period of time. Our diagrams were always out of date, and I was annoyed by the licensing. Going back to get more money approved didn't work, and it was debatable which people would even need a license. It was a mess, and I became frustrated. Especially when I had to print out and assemble diagrams.

I've had similar battles with other vendors over the years, they want me to license everything for everyone, which isn't usually cost effective. Or I have to manage certain licenses for certain people, or certain machines, and that becomes a coordination effort in and of itself. What I've tended to do in Microsoft shops is get all IT people an MSDN licenses, which greatly simplifies things for development, but leaves production out of the loop.

I think Embarcadero has implemented a very interesting scheme with their All-Access license. For about the cost of licenses to 2 tools, you can get a license to use any of the Embarcadero products. And they have a variety of development and production tools, so the license covers almost any job. And there's no management of licenses, no tracking who has what license on their machine. You just license people that need any tool, and they can access any of the other tools.

In many ways this is like the MSDN license, but since it covers production and development tools, it can apply to more people in your organization. And since many of the tools are cross platform for SQL Server, Oracle, or DB/2, and even cover .NET and Java development and operation, it's a good deal for companies that have multiple platforms.

Embarcadero has some other licenses I haven't seen being offered in quite some time, like concurrent licenses. If you are a cross platform shop, I urge you to check out their offerings. You might save some money and greatly increase productivity with a few third party tools. And if you're an Embarcadero customer now, definitely check out the All-Access license.

I think software licensing is a bit of a mess, but if you have the need for this toolset, Embarcadero has done  a good job in trying to be flexible and fair with customers.

Steve Jones


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