A confluence of factors could double the cost of software licensing within two years, industry experts have warned.
According to Gartner, the increasing use of dual-core processors, server virtualisation and computing on demand will drive this change. The analyst firm has singled out Oracle, IBM and Sybase as vendors with pricing policies that will dramatically hike up the cost of their software.
The key change lies in the switch to multi-core processing. At present, most software companies are charging double the licence fee for dual-core systems. Gartner claimed this is unfair, since doubling the number of processors does not double performance.
"Software companies generally charge for the total potential CPU capacity, regardless of what is being used," said Alexa Bona, research director at Gartner.
"They will have to change their policies, but that change will not come quickly. It is therefore crucial for enterprises to protect themselves by starting contract negotiations with their vendors."
Gartner advises companies to ensure that price increases for dual-core licences should not exceed the 25 per cent currently charged by Microsoft. In addition, they should insist that they are not penalised by charges for other technical advances.
"I think the software houses will come to their senses on dual-core," said James Governor, principal analyst at Redmonk. "We are just coming out of a prolonged downturn and may be heading into another, and that is not an environment in which software companies slap their customers around."
Alex Tatham, vice-president of global software at Bell Microproducts Europe, told CRN: "Companies will be spending more money on software because they will be investing in database and data centre software, but not paying more for what they get."
"The cost to end-users should be reduced because payments will be spread, and vendors and distributors will enhance systems to improve payment processes."
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