back to article Microsoft and Oracle are 'not your trusted friends', public sector bods

Software providers such as Microsoft and Oracle are aggressively targeting public sector customers with licence "audit reviews" in a bid to plug falling subscription revenue, according to research. Over one-third of the 436 councils surveyed across the UK have been subject to at least one software licence review in the last 20 …

  1. oldcoder

    So, give them the boot - use open source.

    Much cheaper in the long run.

    And it can be fun when you tell them you converted to open source. Them turning purple should be quite entertaining.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

      I would love it, LOVE IT, if they did.

      However, in my office I run Linux while the rest of the (large) office run Windows, and the experience I have with LibreOffice opening/saving Office 2007+ documents isn't brilliant, but would be fixed if everyone saved it in ODF!!!!!!

      We can but dream and live in hope.

      1. Roger Greenwood

        Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

        +1 for ODF

        https://www.gov.uk/government/news/open-document-formats-selected-to-meet-user-needs

        Even the Gov agrees. I suppose it must be like giving up smoking - longer you have been hooked harder it is to give up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

          "+1 for ODF"

          And the best implementation of the latest version of ODF? Microsoft Office by a long way....

          "using a mail server other than Exchange for handling mail accounts, etc"

          LOL. Good luck with that. There really isn't any viable competition in that space in the OSS world. Even paid for options that are serious competitors are few and far between. It's a very good, solid and historically secure product with a vast range of functionality, and it's not very expensive in real terms.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

            "And the best implementation of the latest version of ODF? Microsoft Office by a long way...."

            Bullshit. I've tried many times and it ain't pretty.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

      I love this argument.

      Linux - because, well that's what you're referring to really, on the desktop. 23 years and waiting.

      Enterprise backend services. OSS written by whom with what support? If it was so fucking easy, why hasn't it happened yet?

      And yes, I know I'll be downvoted but I don't care. Get your head out of your arse. Which companies can afford to take a chance to migrate backend services to unknown, probably incompatible systems?

      Point to me anywhere that uses OSS for, taking one example, managing council tax payments?

      You don't just have to convince finance, IT, users and management you also have to convince third parties to rewrite their software. Or find a completely new alternative. And given local governments, literally thousands of applications might exist, a large proportion of which are far out of date, never updated, never replaced because they 'just work' and the vendors no longer exist.

      This is the real world, not utopia!

      1. SolidSquid

        Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

        I think it's more the idea of switching to Libre Office for document editing, using a mail server other than Exchange for handling mail accounts, etc. Switching to Linux for everything is a pretty big hurdle, and an OS change wouldn't have much of an impact on actual costs while increasing difficulties for users

        Also, things like taking council tax payments will usually be developed in house or contracted out specially due to the complex business logic, so aren't really an accurate comparison since there's not really a *closed* source option either

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

          Frankly bollocks...councils prefer COTS. Or they outsource. Mostly to Capita: http://www.capita-softwareandmanagedservices.co.uk/software/pages/revenues_and_benefits-council_tax.aspx

          Go ahead and show me an OSS mail platform that can do everything Exchange does and as well (calendars, free/busy management/email of course/tasks/journaling/archiving etc etc)

          As I look around the average office space...oh look...all those people that have used the Office ribbon for the last 8 years don't seem to be complaining. Or about Office in general, actually.

          When will you lot realise Linux/OSS/LibreOffice is of very little interest to anyone other than a very special kind of person. Average non-IT, non-Geek want something they can just use. If they can use the same as at work, even better.

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Gimp

            Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

            Oh, it's you. Again.

            "When will you lot realise Linux/OSS/LibreOffice is of very little interest to anyone other than a very special kind of person."

            When will you and your whiny cohorts realise that MS 'products' are of no interest to anyone at all; like the shiny toilet paper of old- nobody wanted it, but it was foisted upon all. A few fetishists still buy it for the pain, but to everyone else it is an increasingly unnecessary pain in the arse.

            So take your MS crapware and use it in the same way- there are alternatives now, and they are quilted.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

              Oh it's you. Again. And again, and again.

              I am sorry you are so invested in software that it makes you foam at the mouth.

              However I would encourage you to get out from under your rock occasionally and meet real humans. You know, the people who have to use these products day in and day out.

              Ask any number of them and they'll undoubtedly be able to point out failings in the stuff they use. From whichever vendor. I'm sure they will have suggestions.

              But. And this is the thing you keep missing. They come into work. They do their job and they are usually reasonably productive - at least enough so they don't get fired. Then they go home.

              They don't WANT to learn something new because that takes time, effort and causes frustration.

              And I challenge you to find me any single piece of software that doesn't cause some kind of frustration for some user(s) somewhere.

              They sure as hell don't want software where they have to, for example, edit text files to make changes to configurations.

              Anyway enjoy your beard and sandals.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

                "They sure as hell don't want software where they have to, for example, edit text files to make changes to configurations."

                I bet they don't want to fiddle with the registry either (even us technical folks find it a terrible mess), so a very poor example to back up your claim.

          2. Tom 13

            Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

            Go ahead and show me an OSS mail platform that can do everything Exchange does and as well

            Yep, even Google, who in theory ought to be able to afford to pay better and more programmers than MS don't have a product that works nearly as well. Not that that stopped our big cheese from moving our agency to GMail. While there are small problems everywhere, the most glaring weakness is in calendar visibility and the free/busy scheduling tools.

            1. wayward4now

              Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

              "While there are small problems everywhere, the most glaring weakness is in calendar visibility and the free/busy scheduling tools." I use Thunderbird, and added the calendar to it, then added the Google calendar extension. Piece O cake! Now I have a live calendar that updates our Google calendar which pops up directly on our website via linking html script. NEXT!

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

            "(calendars, free/busy management/email of course/tasks/journaling/archiving etc etc)"

            and how much of that is the mail platform and how much is bolted on extras? That's part of what creates the lock-in in the first place. It also creates a mindset that the only way out of the Exchange lock-in is to find an exact clone of Exchange.

            Sometimes, it's more about looking at other ways of working instead of just a different back-end capable of maintaining the existing way. Installing email in the first place was a revolution in the work-place involving changing working methods and investing in training, so why should it be such a "pain" to change again all these years later just because someone can't see a short term gain and only sees a short term cost?

            It's not as if many of these organisations haven't already transitioned through mainframes/terminals, Novel, Lotus Notes et al in the past for long term benefits at a short term cost.

            1. TonyJ Silver badge

              Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

              "(calendars, free/busy management/email of course/tasks/journaling/archiving etc etc)"

              From that list, I believe all but archiving is part and parcel.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

                "(calendars, free/busy management/email of course/tasks/journaling/archiving etc etc)"

                From that list, I believe all but archiving is part and parcel.

                Maybe I should have said welded on in the factory as a default added-extra which you have to pay for in the price, even if you don't want that particular add-on over and above the basic email function.

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

          Council Tax is basically the same in every council except for the rate set by the councillors. Slightly different in Wales because they have more bands, slightly different in Scotland because the valuation bands are at different levels and the charge includes a water precept, and completely different in Northern Ireland.

          You could write a Council Tax program and sell it to every council in England, and in Wales and Scotland with minor adjustments. I don't know whether that does happen, but having every council develop their own one in-house seems very wasteful.

      2. Smoking Gun

        Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

        Harsh number of down votes, clearly not been anywhere near an NHS Trust.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is the real world, not utopia!

        "Which companies can afford to take a chance to migrate backend services to unknown, probably incompatible systems?

        I've heard that argument straight from the horse's mouth. As anyone, user or support, EVER who has to suffer Windows day in day out knows, the worst incompatibilities are between differing versions of Windows, Outlook, Office and IE. Really Macs and Linux servers should have cleaned up if they weren't so darn expensive up front.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is the real world, not utopia!

          Please do expand and explain.

          Access - granted. It's a pile of shit for inter-version compatibility.

          IE? Not so much. Not since about v7 anyway.

          Office - download any of the free packages from MS that allow you to read in newer file formats which to be fair haven't changed that much since 2007.

          Anyway I go back to point 1 - migrate from Exchange to....? And that's just one example.

      4. The Real Tony Smith
        Linux

        Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

        "Which companies can afford to take a chance to migrate backend services to unknown, probably incompatible systems?"

        Ummmm, let me think, The White House, Ernie Ball, The US Navy, The French Parliment, The Czech Post Office, The Dutch Police, Peugeot, The London Stock Exchange...

        It's a big list!

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_adopters

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

          That is actually a considerably bigger list than I'd have bargained even taking into account Wikepedia as the source.

          Still tiny by comparison to Microsoft though, I imagine.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

        "Which companies can afford to take a chance to migrate backend services to unknown, probably incompatible systems?"

        Oh let's see, Google, Facebook, Amazon for starters. London Stock Exchange. The ISS. DreamWorks seem to do pretty well with it on both their desktops and servers.

        Nice to have a bit of diversity isn't it?

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

      Whilst increased usage of open source might be the desired outcome of some, the key outcome of organisations being hit with a highly visible cost that hadn't been budgeted for, will be to encourage them to look more seriously at alternatives. Products that don't need you to track license usage in near real-time and allow for some vagueness in actual numbers will probably gain favour.

      So it seems that MS has set it's heart on creating a mountain - similar to the one it created with XP et al., that it will need to climb in circa 2020 if it is to successfully move organisations off Win7 et al. on to whatever their replacement product set then is and not have those customers move to third-party product sets.

      So yes MS are giving the open source movement yet another sales opportunity - who said that MS were anti open source?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

      " So, give them the boot - use open source.

      Much cheaper in the long run."

      It really isn't if you need support and have to consider to total cost of ownership. It's actually far moe expensive at least than Microsoft for the market leaders like Red Hat and SUSE. Not to mention the considerable cost and failure risk of migration. Possibly you have a case for some Oracle products, but that's probably not the primary cost here.

      For instance Munich Council spent itro €50 million (subsidised by IBM) just getting a working Open Source stack. Then about €12 million migrating (more than the cost of updating their original licences!). And over a decade later they still haven't been able to migrate ~ 20% of their stuff - so now have to support both environments. And the user experience with Open Source has been so diabolical that they are now actively investigating the options to migrate back again!

      Open Source sounds nice buts it's not generally cheaper in terms of TCO - unless you don't need support and your time and user experience are of no value...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

        "It really isn't if you need support and have to consider to total cost of ownership."

        I bet a lot of folks leave out the cost of license management (not just the raw cost of the licenses) with MS and Oracle when looking at this. Hint: it isn't trivial.

        FOSS doesn't solve everything - I imagine many specialist apps will always remain proprietary or custom-built. Running them in a FOSS platform saves huge dollars. The best part is that you don't need to run to the pricier Red Hat and SuSE either - there are a multitude of independent companies out there providing excellent support for many FOSS platforms and I've had great experienced with this. Sure there's some risk, being able to choose the best for your mission rather than being stuck with a single incumbent is really hard to put a value on.

        Assuming Microsoft have the best answers for every enterprise problem out there is just ignorant and more risky.

        1. wayward4now
          Linux

          Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

          "FOSS doesn't solve everything" It DOES solve the $50,000 license issue effectively. I haven't used Windows since Win95 came out and have never looked back. :) Ric

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: So, give them the boot - use open source.

      The Open Source threat is how you have the invoice for £50,000 reduced to £5,000. One does not pay such invoices without spanking them back with a "Not Worth The Future Risk - BANNED!!" boycott.

      In any case, you then switch at least the Office Suite to something free while perhaps retaining Windows. Even my wee feisty children are now perfectly Office-agnostic (they hardly notice which one is running), but they still prefer Windows to Linux.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: So give them the boot - use open source

    As a former LG and current HE employee. Getting people weaned off the MS and Oracle beasts is not a trivial exercise. You try to persuade the finance department to ditch Excel for LibreOffice Calc and see where you get!

    Office365 is now the mail of choice - Google can't guarantee to keep the data within the EU apparently.

    Sad but that is where you are.

    AC because - well I am a a coward really.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: So give them the boot - use open source

      The lack of floating point and integer accuracy in Excel ought to be enough to get your account time fire never mind moving to Libre Office.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So give them the boot - use open source

        "The lack of floating point and integer accuracy in Excel ought to be enough to get your account time"

        99.9% of trading floors with vast values at risk seem to not have any issues in using Excel...Do tell us more?

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: So give them the boot - use open source

          "99.9% of trading floors with vast values at risk seem to not have any issues in using Excel...Do tell us more?"

          So that's the cause of recessions pinned down then.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So give them the boot - use open source

          "99.9% of trading floors with vast values at risk seem to not have any issues in using Excel...Do tell us more?"

          eh? Who's trading floor are you working on? It's all C++/Python with web front ends round 'ere. Pfft, Excel indeed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So give them the boot - use open source

            "It's all C++/Python with web front ends round 'ere. Pfft, Excel indeed."

            Well speaking as someone who has worked numerous trading floors in investment banking and commodities: It's certainly a bit of Python these days - but more C# / C++ (on the desktop at least) but pretty nearly always fronted by Excel. I can't recall seeing a single trader position in the last decade that didn't use Excel to some degree...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So give them the boot - use open source

          @ anonymous troll (the only reason for going AC)

          "99.9% of trading floors with vast values at risk seem to not have any issues in using Excel...Do tell us more?"

          IIRC Didn't both the NYSE and LSE dump MS solutions in favour of Linux solutions due to it being crap not fit for purpose ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So give them the boot - use open source

            "IIRC Didn't both the NYSE and LSE dump MS solutions in favour of Linux solutions due to it being crap not fit for purpose ?"

            Nope - they both built MS based systems in house that successfully met the design specs and were used for some time. And they both worked well bar a couple of 'network' failures.

            What happened was that someone based in India wrote a better system - that happened to be on another OS platform. Because it was a commodity resource that ended up used by multiple exchanges instead of a separate development effort, it was cheaper to adopt than to continue to develop in house...

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: So give them the boot - use open source

              > Nope - they both built MS based systems in house that successfully met the design specs and were used for some time. And they both worked well bar a couple of 'network' failures.

              While it is true that they had network failures with the Windows servers, it is not true that they 'met the design specs':

              """He claimed that Windows typically has larger latency times than that of Linux, and noted that in 2009, the London Stock Exchange tried and abandoned Windows servers."""

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: So give them the boot - use open source

        =ROUND([xxx],2) deals with that.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So give them the boot - use open source

      "Office365 is now the mail of choice - Google can't guarantee to keep the data within the EU apparently."

      Neither can MS if a NY judge says otherwise.

      Try again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So give them the boot - use open source

        "Neither can MS if a NY judge says otherwise."

        Yes they can. Or to be more specific, you can ensure with Office 365 that Microsoft can't take your data outside the EU, or even access it at all:

        https://www.thales-esecurity.com/msrms/cloud

        "Thales nShield HSMs ensure that your key is always under your control and never visible to Microsoft"

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: So give them the boot - use open source

          "Thales nShield HSMs ensure that your key is always under your control and never visible to Microsoft"

          However, that doesn't mean that the French authorities don't have access...

          But not really a problem, just as long as you don't do anything to antagonise them, as they won't release the information to the UK/US authorities because it seems the French get a lot of satisfaction from thumbing their noses at the British authorities...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So give them the boot - use open source

            "However, that doesn't mean that the French authorities don't have access"

            Actually yes it does - in terms of conventional access anyway.. Clearly you don't understand how an HSM works. It's sort like the TPM module in a laptop. Unless they take the device apart and extract the key by electron microscope to the silicon it's not happening without your permission.

            An EU entity would have access to your data via the courts should they have proper cause anyway...

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: So give them the boot - use open source

        @Doctor Syntax

        Since the outcome of that case and its various appeals is still pending - you're a little premature.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: So give them the boot - use open source

          @Gordon 10

          Indeed so. But the current state of play is that they can. I've said here a couple of times that MS need to put in a clearer fire break, for instance by having the service run as a franchise in order to be sure.

  3. Vetis

    I dont know why these organisations seem surprised they need to buy the software they are using.

    1. SolidSquid

      I think it's more that they lose track of the number of licences currently installed, and without an easy way to track it (which I don't think they come with), you end up with people thinking they have valid licences to spare when they're actually short

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Agree MS license tracking could do with much improvement. Whilst it is a different league a small business customer uses a Microsoft Account, which whilst it does provide a single place for all the activated licenses, it doesn't do away with paper records, because it just lists licenses without providing any real information about which product the key is for and which user/systems have been using particular licenses.

        1. wayward4now
          Linux

          "Agree MS license tracking could do with much improvement. " Where's the economic incentive to do that when they can haul you into court and pick up another $50,000?? I doubt that the original cost of licenses came anywhere near to that bit of sheer profit. That was the point of this article. :)

      2. The Crow From Below

        If you log into your MSDN account it tells you exactly how many licenses you have used.

        It's not like MS don't provide these people with easy to use tools to track the activation rates. The problem probably came from the accounts department refusing to renew the licenses because they cost too much and simple cancelled them as they didn't know what they were for, which would have triggered the audits.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "If you log into your MSDN account it tells you exactly how many licenses you have used."

          Firstly, no it doesn't and secondly, even if it did, then MSDN licences can't be used in production or with production data...

      3. Tom 13

        Bollocks. If you're a government agency there are all kinds of requirements for all kinds of updates and tracking. They KNOW the number of licenses you're running on these agreements. They just don't want to pay for it. I've been in organizations using some form of MS licensing for ages. They make it easy to install whatever you need at the time you need it. BUT at the end of the year you have to true up and pay the piper. One private company I worked for went to the trouble of getting an Adobe Enterprise license (no easy task). At which point the number 2 guy in the org started treating it the same way we did MS Enterprise licenses, which is actually a big no-no. Not sure if they ever got caught.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "you end up with people thinking they have valid licences to spare when they're actually short"

        In some cases at least, they may be over licensed and don't even realise. I see many large sites where every PC has a Windows licence sticker on the side of the (desktop) box that's not in use because they re-image with their site licence.

        It may be that the supplied licence with each desktop is for a different version of Windows, but either way, they are buying licences which they never use. Maybe they need to audit those unused licenses and supply them back to MS to pay off the "fine".

      5. Tzhx

        >> I think it's more that they lose track of the number of licences currently installed

        Sadly, I think it's really, really not.

        I've worked with academics have a misguided opinion that everything they do is "fair use" because it's "for the greater good". I've worked on projects that won't pay for things because they can get away with not doing so (e.g. they've got an installer from somewhere like an old MSDN subscription that just works). There may be a small amount of Windows or Office licenses where they've lost track, but what MS/Oracle are going after is clearly unlicensed installs of things like SQL Server / Windows Server where -- if you've got a box running, it should be fairly easy to determine if you've paid for it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I dont know why these organisations seem surprised they need to buy the software they are using."

      With tricks like named user licensing, I'm not.

  4. HmmmYes Silver badge

    Hmm, people not thinking thru their choices of OS and data format.

    Software and data will be around a long time.

    Certain implementations of technology will not.

    Certain companies that implement that technology will not.

    As software and the data use by it becomes more important and more central to an organisation then they need to be asking questions about how long that technology will last - speaking as someone who has to work with an Access 97 DB . . . .

    Standards like ODF are very important.

    Choosing technology that is not owned/restricted by a single company is important too - ANSI C - good, Java + C# - bad.

    I'm sure all those IT bods, in both the private and public sector, have justified their salaries . . .

    1. SolidSquid

      While limited, there are open source implementations for both Java and C#, and C# in particular is being pushed more into the open source arena

      1. The Crow From Below

        "C# in particular is being pushed more into the open source arena"

        Not just more, the .NET Core has been open sourced to avoid the windows team killing it off and allowing more implementations of it to exist in various different operating systems. The C#, VB and F# compilers have all been open sourced as well as ASP.NET and the entity framework. All are available on GitHub.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oracle are doing more audits period, when the licensing on SQL Server is more favourable than Oracle, more companies are looking at SSvr or OSS alternatives, Oracle want to fleece you before you leave them!

    Trust me when you go through an audit with MS or Oracle and there's a lot wrong it's way more then £50k! A severe audit can easily be 6 figure sum in back payments to put it right if you're way off the mark!!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft/Oracle,

    why don't you go and visit the Foreign Office, FO for short.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good for them!

    I used to work for one of the largest Universities in Northern England.

    We had software developed against SQL Server that we were effectively selling to other groups (external groups that is, like other Universities, the NHS, etc.) as a service and running as a web application on their behalf.

    Our SQL Servers weren't properly licensed. I don't believe the web servers were either. Frequent requests to management (academics) to resolve this were met with "but it works" and "we don't think Microsoft will audit us, anyway".

    People can complain about stuff being expensive, but the response to that it to NOT USE IT. Don't just use it and then, when you get "caught" and charged for using it, complain that the companies are exerting their rights against your unlawful use of their software.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good for them!

      "I don't believe the web servers were either. Frequent requests to management (academics) to resolve this were met with "but it works" and "we don't think Microsoft will audit us, anyway"."

      You can get cash-back for that! https://reporting.bsa.org/r/report/usa/rewardsconditions.aspx

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good for them!

        I think the potential damage from such a course of action is much greater any potential rewards, given it would make you practically unemployable should it come out -- versus "anonymous" ranting on a bulletin board.

        Plus, a University in England probably isn't considered "a business in the United States or Canada".

  8. Candy

    Licensing audits

    So, leaving aside the "FOSS Good, Everything Else Bad" drum beating for a moment: What I see here is that organisations can expect to be audited on their use of licenses every 4 or 5 years. (Oracle 25% in the last 20 months, MS 33%+ in the last 20 months.)

    Bearing in mind that between these audits they effectively pay on an honesty basis, how is that unreasonable?

    I've been through a few of these audits over the years. Yes, they are a pain. Yes, the tools provided are terrible, most especially the MAPS Suite. But the worst part by far is the arcane nature of the pricing and licensing itself. Oracle: I'm looking harder at you here. But not by much.

    If the rules were clearer and simpler, there wouldn't be such large discrepancies following some of these audits. There's always going to be cases where incompetence or taking-the-piss lead to massive under reporting of licenses in use but mostly people want to pay what they are supposed to.

    It needs to be easier to be honest...

    1. The Crow From Below

      Re: Licensing audits

      "It needs to be easier to be honest..."

      I really don't get what is so hard about this:

      I have 200 Machines, They all have windows and office on them...that means I need how many licenses?

      A) 200 windows and 200 office

      B) 1 windows 1 office

      C) A banana

      D) Armadillo. smooth on the inside crunchy on the outside. ARMADILLO!

      Here's a hint, it's not B or C....

      Volume licensing is not exactly rocket surgery, it's pretty easy to make sure you are covered, especially if you license Excel!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licensing audits

        'D'...Definitely 'D'. Or maybe a Dime bar?? Mmm....Armadillo!!

      2. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: Licensing audits

        Yes, your example is quite simple. Now take a look at some of the licensing terms for more complex software, like Sql Server or Oracle's DB. Should I be paying per seat, per server/ per core? How do virtual machines count? Do I pay differently for dev / uat servers than live servers?

        I remember Oracle trying to suggest that every user of data that had been in a database needed an Oracle license. That meant if I export some data to csv, bring it in to Excel and send it to you, YOU need an Oracle license. I wasn't on the negotiating team, but I don't think they won that one. We were a pretty big Oracle user though, so we were already paying for buckets of licenses.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Licensing audits

        >I have 200 Machines, They all have windows and office on them...that means I need how many licenses?

        Well it depends - from the discussions over the past year or so on licensing, I'm sure depending upon which MS/Oracle representative you are talking to, you may get a different answer, particularly as if you have 200 windows machines, you probably are also running a few servers...

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Licensing audits

        "I have 200 Machines, They all have windows and office on them...that means I need how many licenses?"

        I don't know. What server systems are you running? How are they licensed? Concurrent users? Total number of users? Is that adjusted by number or CPU cores used or VM instances?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Licensing audits

          "What server systems are you running? How are they licensed? Concurrent users? Total number of users? Is that adjusted by number or CPU cores used or VM instances?"

          And have you checked that the virtual server instances that you carefully licenced properly to run on your dedicated host are still licenced now you have moved them to a multi-tenanted host platform? You would think being virtual there is no problem. There are still only the same servers used by the same people, with the same virtual hardware, but if they are moved, then unless you have also purchased software assurance on those licences, then you have to pay again.

          One thing MS licencing isn't, is simple.

  9. Otto is a bear.

    Wouldn't it be nice

    If when they find you are over licences they refund you for all the unused licences. In Oracles case they'll tell you that if you get rid of the unused licences, then you loose all the volume discount for the support contract, so you pay more anyway.

    The moral of the story, is never be dependent on a single supplier, and use open source wherever you can.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No legal right to audit

    If you have an open license agreement, Microsort DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO AUDIT you. They have the right to ask you to carry out an audit and tell them if you need some more or not. All you have to do is get a letter on company headed paper that says you have carried out an audit and that you are satisfied you have the correct number of licenses, and get it signed and sent off. I stonewalled them and forced them to send me a copy of the clause and that is what it said. Do not walk blindly into the valley of death, make them work for it.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    I'm shocked, shocked I tell you

    Companies chasing organizations for revenue.

    What next?

    Seriously I think at some point a bunch of users are going to be bitten hard by all those unreadable old proprietary file formats that their current version can't read (why bother with such support ?) and naturally the only thing you didn't archive was a copy of the program, along with all the passwords for the password locked files.

    But surely no one would be that stupid?

    1. TonyJ Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I'm shocked, shocked I tell you

      Easy - just email it to yourself and then ask the NSA for the unencrypted, upgraded version ;)

  12. KevinLewis

    Dealing with the Devil you know

    "One thing MS licencing isn't, is simple."... True, even had those in the know giving incorrect information. Though thankfully far easier and audit cheaper than Oracle.

  13. Richard Plinston Silver badge

    > For instance Munich Council spent itro €50 million (subsidised by IBM) just getting a working Open Source stack. Then about €12 million migrating (more than the cost of updating their original licences!).

    More of Richto/TheVogon/AC unsupported nonsense.

    There is _no_ support for the claim that IBM spent 50million (previously it was claimed to be 30million) on Munich. It may be that IBM has spent 30 or 50million in total on developing open source and Linux for all uses, such as developing it for their mainframes, and having their other software run on it (WebSphere, etc). But they make billions in revenue from having done that. You are attempting to conflate all that development to just one project.

    The claim of 12million for migrating comes from a report by HP paid for by Microsoft and has been shown to be complete nonsense. For example it includes costs for new machines every 3 years or so when the reality is that Munich reused the machines that it originally ran NT on. For example it adds costs for re-training to use Linux and ignores any retraining costs to go from NT to XP to Vista to Win7 to Win8 and also to go from Office 2003 to 2007, 2010.

    There was _no_ reference to the _actual_ costs that Munich paid, they just invented stuff and claimed it cost more.

    > 20% of their stuff - so now have to support both environments.

    There are some legacy applications which occasionally need to used. These cannot be converted because they are propriety and the developers either have gone out of business or will not convert them. An excellent example of why closed source applications should be replaced to avoid lock in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To produce a custom OS clearly cost IBM bundles, it took OVER TEN YEARS for Munich to migrate so it would clearly have cost Munich bundles more to migrate than it would to upgrade, and Munich continue to have to run 2 environments at a significant on-going cost.

      And it sucks so much for the users on Linux that Munich are investigating to options to reverse course upgrade to current Microsoft products.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > To produce a custom OS clearly cost IBM bundles,

        IBM spend millions on software development every year. They produce many products, not just one OS or one project.

        > it took OVER TEN YEARS for Munich to migrate so it would clearly have cost Munich bundles more to migrate than it would to upgrade

        That is your uninformed assertion, but your world is not one that reality invades. Given they were on NT then they would have faced several migrations: to XP, to Vista, to Windows 7, to 8 and 10; to Office 2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, ...

        > and Munich continue to have to run 2 environments at a significant on-going cost.

        Yes, they still have to run archaic legacy applications that, because they are closed source propriety, require to be replaced.

        Your notion that just one platform is the solution to all problems shows that you are naive.

        > Munich are investigating to options to reverse course upgrade to current Microsoft products.

        One new deputy major was 'investigating'.

  14. amacater

    MS licensing vs.OSS

    The cost of licence managing / accounting is a huge part of the cost of licensing for larger organisations. The overhead in dedicated procurement teams / asset management is significant. Then you pay for consultancy / outsourced expertise to sort out problems with your asset management / licensing management software. That's on top of costs for patch management / badly written third party software

    That's a chunk: then there's using a Miicosoft / Oracle trusted partner for large scale licence provisioning and deployment and "independent" auditing.

    Then there's the cost of upgrades and other products from the same vendor which predicate existing infrastructure: Windows Server + AD + Exchange + Office + Sharepoint + Visio ...

    Back end: Linux every time.

    LibreOffice - as functional as any MS product - and more backward compatible with the older formats. If you're running your business on Excel - GNUmeric will do everything related if it's arithmetic. Bigger data - you should be using R. Databases - MariaDB / Postgresql ...

    If you build local custom macros for busines procesess without version control / central scrutiny / auditing - you deserve to fail If you use Access databases for mission critical data, you've already failed and your business is dead: you don't realise it because the pacemaker and life support are still running.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS licensing vs.OSS

      "The cost of licence managing / accounting is a huge part of the cost of licensing for larger organisations. The overhead in dedicated procurement teams / asset management is significant. Then you pay for consultancy / outsourced expertise to sort out problems with your asset management / licensing management software. That's on top of costs for patch management / badly written third party software"

      Sounds like Magic Carpet and that mess from OSS.

      It's much simpler in the Microsoft World. SCCM produces a standard licensing report and it takes only a few man days each year to reconcile and price with your Microsoft EA reseller.

      "Back end: Linux every time"

      Which actually costs lots more to license for enterprise versions than Windows Server does.

      "LibreOffice - as functional as any MS product

      LOL, provided you mean an MS product from 15 years ago.

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