Software pricing is always a touchy subject. There are many people that think software companies charge way too much for their products and deliver subpar quality. Actually, by definition, half the software out there is sub-par, par being average. However I do think that the general consensus is that the average is below what most of us would expect from a product.
I ran across an interesting article talking about usage based pricing for software. A way that you would pay for what you used as opposed to paying a flat rate for all users. Using SalesForce and Amazon EC2 as references, there's a report saying that enterprise customers would rather pay for what they use than pay a flat rate and possibly not get the value for their purchase.
I'm not sure I'd want that for SQL Server. At least not in terms of dynamic usage that is based on demand, where another CPU or GB of RAM is enabled because the server needs it and I get a larger bill for this week's server usage. If I could pay for which subsystems of SQL Server I needed to unlock, and perhaps buy a license for xx CPUs or GBs of RAM at a time, I might be interested.
This seems to be a cyclical thing in companies. There are times that they look to change out their licensing scheme, or technology architecture, or something else to save money because a short analysis seems to indicate it's a good idea. I've seen us shift from centralized computing to distributed, and now we're going back. We've gone from client/server architectures and back to more centralized systems. The same thing is happening here.
Usage based licensing is possible with today's computing power, but we often don't know what our usage will be when we start a system. Asking for usage base pricing could easily end up costing you more than a flat rate, as many cellular customers might tell you. And unnecessarily constraining usage to lower costs might undo some of the great BI technologies that people like to run "what-if" scenarios on.
I would like to see licensing evolve to where we can purchase at a more granular level the capabilities we need, but I'm not sure I'd ever want to see database software priced on how many cycles we use or GBs we store.
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