When was the last time you bought a harddiskdrive(HDD)? or even a memory module,usb disk , even a whole computer.you just payed cash and left the store.Its that simple when buying a piece of hardware. Whether you'r paying cash or sing a debit card, the point is that the entire value of that hardware is represented in that liquid value.Thats hardware for you.
Software on the other hand is intellectual property.you may purchase the disk/cd which contains a representation of that intellectual value but you can never really "PAY" for the intellectual value of the software, hence the purchase of LICENCES to install and use that software.A license bestows limited rights to use the software, but it also imposes restrictions and threatens serious penalties when license violations occur.you get a software,you purchase licenses according to the mode provided by the owner/proprietor.
But here's the thing, with the pace at which hardware has evolved and still keeps evolving,with the advent of virtualized application distribution,dual,quad cores processor, licensing seems to be a very dicey issue these days with the IT department, potentially leading to a myriad of legal issues in case of license violations(consequently leading to millions of Naira/Dollars to settle law suits) and Overspending in cases where licences purchased are not fully utilized.
Initiallly, software vendors sell license their software on a per CPU basis assuming that every PC has a single CPU.Then came the dual cores,and quad cores, then there was the argument as to if a computer having 4 processors could still be considered as a single PC, this extended to if the IC holding the processors would be considered as the CPU or the individual Processors( An argument whose conclusion is not far fetched, especially when A+ gurus are around)
Then came virtualization, then a CPU or group of CPU's could be shared by users spread out across a building, and in latter times spread across cities.Thus leading to situations where a company purchases 100 per CPU licenses, virtualizes the environment and ends up sharing 100 CPU's among 1000 users, technically breaching the license agreement.
But albeit, software vendors have included per user licensing which reduces the problem on their part but increases the need for better planning on the part of the purchasing IT department.
But software users are also seeing a spate of new license options or editions that accept varying levels of use—especially in virtual environments. For example, the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise license allows four virtualWindows Server instances
for free, but the four instances must run on the same host. By comparison,Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Edition is licensed per CPU and per host server but is
independent of the number of VMs running on the host. It may be considerably more cost-effective to deploy the Datacenter Edition rather than the Enterprise or Standard Editions.
These Licensing concerns and confusions can only be solved if the data center admins and the software proprietors work together to ensure a that the Software developer gets full reward for use of His intellectual property and also that the Company utilizing His solution optimizes its usage such as to maximize efficiency whilst minimizing cost.