Crippling Software for Profit

rittchard
rittchard
There's a piece of very expensive specialized engineering simulation software my company uses. Like many other companies, they've gone to a yearly support/license model, so not only do you pay an upfront cost, but if you want any support or upgrades/updates, you have to pay an annual fee. On top of that, the software itself is now broken down into subsets like the GUI, the simulation engine, optimization engine, etc.

I don't know the exact numbers, but I think the core with features is on the order of $100k per license, probably more. Annual license fee to be eligible for updates is like $10k.

While it's already always seemed a bit obscene to me, I do understand that the software company has to make its livelihood somehow, and they more or less are following industry standard behavior. Given that they have little to no competition, they pretty much control the market.

Here's where I take issue. A few years back they introduced support for multi-core processing. I don't know the exact timeline, but at some point they decided to bundle that capability together with multi-computer/networked processing under the buzzword "High Performance Computing" (HPC). So basically nowadays if you want to use your 4 (8 effective) cores for processing, you have to pay an additional $5k/yr. It just seems really outrageous they can do what amounts to crippling the capability of the software on someone's computer for profit. Literally I can see when I'm running the solver it uses about 15-20% of my total CPU resources. I've demo-ed the HPC version and it uses 80-90%.

I can understand that they put a lot of development to create and maintain the networked version that apparently somehow draws upon as many computers in your network you throw at it, but the basic "solver" portion that uses multi-cores on a single machine just feels like something that should be included by default. Can you imagine if someone did this for a PC game? It would be like you paid $60 for the basic Destiny 2 game, and then had to pay another $6/year so that it would use all your cores AND your GPU. I feel like it's borderline illegal, definitely unethical, and at bare minimum a slap in the face to customers. All of which I wrote in a recent survey they sent out, not that I expect anything to change.

Just curious if others have had similar experiences with other business related software, or perhaps are on the other side and can better justify the rationale.

Comments

  • Purge
    Purge
    GT Member edited October 2017
    A fair amount of enterprise software licensing models have a "per core" or performance-based allocation license. It isn't always just one option though.

    Ones I can think of off the top of my head:

    IBM DB2
    Oracle DB
    IBM WebSphere

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/why-is-there-software-licensing-by-the-core/

  • rittchard
    rittchard
    GT Member
    Thanks for that link, interestingly from over 10 years ago!

    I can see that software companies need to find ways to make money, but as a hardware guy this just seems really disgusting to me. Paying for more features, content, upgrades, etc - I can live with all that. But having to pay extra just so I can use all the resources on the single PC I spent so much money on is not right.
  • Purge
    Purge
    GT Member
    In a major corporation, you're paying for processing potential rather than keeping a head-count for every user who might incidentally use the product - there are good reasons for it - some companies will negotiate rather than simply provide the out-of-the-box licencing options.

    Talk to the vendor. They *do* want your business ;)
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