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Macrovision Jumps Into Multi-Core Licensing Debate

The answer to the debate over how much to charge for a software license running on a multi-core system may lie within the value of the software.

Or so claim executives with copyright protection software provider Macrovision . David Znidarsic, who serves as vice president of technology at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm, weighed in this week on the well-chronicled debate among software vendors.

"The two countering positions on whether or not to charge per core are missing a vital piece of the equation," Znidarsic said. "Now that processors can have multiple cores within a single processor, should a software vendor license for each core or for each chip?"

The question has divided the software industry into two camps, each stating strategic reasons for their position.

The agreement by market forces such as Microsoft, Intel, and AMD is that prices will be based on the number of actual processors and not the number of internal execution cores, which, in theory, creates at least twice the processing power without an additional chip.

On the other side are companies like IBM, Oracle, BEA, and Veritas , which do not publicize their software licensing strategies and do not share the same sentiment as Microsoft and the chipmakers.

Naturally, Znidarsic is offering a compromise based on Macrovision's FLEXnet line of Software Value Management (SVM).

"Both approaches have merit but neither takes into account that CPU-based software licensing is an increasingly problematic model because it is based on the hardware environment in which software runs rather than on how much value a user derives from it," Znidarsic said. "The introduction of dual and multi-core processing is triggering a long overdue debate and forcing software vendors to reassess the way they've traditionally sold enterprise software. Macrovision believes that the industry needs a new licensing model -- a model based on value rather than CPUs and cores."

For example, Macrovision's software lets companies choose their own pricing models based on the number of queries run in a database application or the capacity used by a storage application.

In the case of software publishers, Znidarsic said Macrovision's flexible model allows companies to offer a range of delivery models for customers such as per-user, per-division, unlimited, etc.

"And for enterprises, it can lead to a more rational and understandable pricing structure, which is directly tied to how they access and use software versus how many cores they are running on a database server," the company said in a statement.

A similar approach was applied when Macrovision began working with the CD, DVD and videotape manufactures, many of which wanted strict controls over when and where the content could be played and reproduced.

Znidarsic said Macrovision's platform also includes software installation, updating, packaging, licensing, entitlement management, end user management, and usage optimization.