Oracle Corp yesterday changed its software licensing models for multi-core processors, in an effort to redress what the company, and Sun Microsystems Inc, saw as a disparity that made it more expensive to run Oracle software on Sun kit.
Under the new model, Oracle customers who choose a per-processor license, still the majority of buyers, will pay a different price depending on which company’s multi-core processors they are using.
The main impact of the change is that customers of IBM Corp multi-core processors, for example, will pay more per-core for their Oracle licenses than customers of Sun’s processors. This, Sun and Oracle said, levels the playing field for hardware vendors.
Oracle said that customers of Sun’s UltraSparc T1 hardware will pay for each core as if it were one quarter of a processor. Those who deploy Oracle to other non-x86 multi-cores, such as those from IBM, will pay as if each core were 75% of a processor.
Those deploying to single-core processors pay for each processor as a full processor. Customers will pay for licenses on AMD and Intel multi-core processors as if each core were half a processor, meaning dual-cores will be treated like a single-core processor.
Oracle said the new plans improve parity among hardware vendors and help ensure that customers receive the most advantageous pricing for their Oracle technology software, regardless of the hardware on which it is deployed.
Sun agreed, saying that previously Oracle’s licensing strategy penalized Sun buyers by treating cores from different vendors equally, regardless of the relative performance of each of their cores.
When you compared price and performance, we had parity with IBM, but when you added the Oracle license on top, we lost that parity, said Larry Singer, strategic insight officer and senior vice president at Sun.
It was becoming a real issue for them [Oracle], Singer said. They heard from customers they needed a new way of thinking about multi-core without treating each core as a separate processor.
Under the new Oracle model, deploying Oracle to an eight-core IBM processor would be the equivalent of a six-processor license, while deploying to an eight-core Sun would be the equivalent of a four-processor license.
Singer said that this makes sense because of the relative clock speeds of the cores in each processor. Sun’s cores may be slower in some respects, but when running Oracle’s Java-heavy software the performance makes up for it, he indicated.
The move was not unexpected. Oracle came in for criticism when it originally said it would treat each core as a single processor, and was again criticized in June when it introduced the notion of treating a core as 0.75 of a processor, regardless of vendor.
The company had announced a special promotion earlier this month whereby Sun T1 cores would be treated as 0.25 of a processor, and yesterday’s announcement essentially sets that in stone as a permanent policy.