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Easy Licenses

By Steve Jones,

http://www.journos.co.za/clippings/software%20licensing.jpgI saw a question about the licensing for SQL Server recently that surprised me. A person had purchased some SQL Server licenses and the CALs to go with them and wondered how to apply them.  This person was asking if he had to install the CALs on each server, each workstation, into AD, or somewhere else. This person wrote to me saying that they had talked to the vendor from whom they'd purchased the software, but the vendor didn't know what to tell them.  They had even gotten referred to Microsoft, but didn't get an answer. I told the person licensing is an administrative task, and the CALs didn't get installed anywhere, but I wonder how many other people spend time trying to figure this out.

I remember applying license s to software running on Novell Netware years ago, and it was a pain. It seemed we were always tracking them, matching up users with licenses and killing connections, and more. I'm glad that Windows went with a simpler scheme, though in my early days of working with SQL Server and Windows I used to mark a certain number of CALs in the Control Panel, something I haven't done in years.

Now I consider Microsoft licensing an administrative task. Someone needs to get a count of users and then just license everyone. It sounds crazy, but to me it's probably the best idea. For a 100 person company it's $1620 for SQL Server CALs and $400 for Windows. While other software might add up to higher costs, it could easily be a $30k-$40k a year job for someone to track your assignment and usage of licenses. I think it's just worth paying for the software rather than employ someone to track licensing.

However companies grow and flex, and the number of people using applications changes constantly. What I'd love to see is an easy to use licensing audit that would let me monitor the usage of SQL Server. If I set SQL Server for CAL licensing, it could track the number of unique hosts that connect to SQL Server. Over time it could give me an easy to view number that I can review and see if I'm way under (or over) licensed.

Software licensing is controversial, and there will be a variety of opinions on what's fair. I'd like to see companies that want to charge per user give us easy ways to determine what we're actually using. If you want us to pay for what we use, don't try to also charge us for what we don't use.

Steve Jones


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