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Licensing the Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” – eventually to be followed by the “Internet of Everything” – brings about the potential for enterprise software to be used by a vast new array of access points. With this comes licensing challenges and expense on a far grander scale.

Organizations can opt to license enterprise software by user. For Oracle technology products such as Database or WebLogic, this is the “Named User Plus” metric. For Microsoft’s server software such as Exchange Server or SQL Server, the “Server+CAL” licensing construct falls into this category. A “user” is defined as a person or device or process that accesses the software. And where this user population is countable, static, and small, licensing by user can be more cost advantageous.

But imagine a building control application that manages the heating and cooling, the lighting, and, perhaps, the irrigation system. Its evolution involves the sensors, circuits, and valves that automatically detect prescribed thresholds or usage rates and initiate the appropriate action. This usage and these actions are then recorded in a database that supports the application via a web interface. Unless the licensing already accounts for these new access points, then a compliance issue can result.

The same issue could arise in virtually any number of situations: alarms, metering devices, laboratory and medical equipment, refrigeration units, automobiles. Ultimately, existing devices would have to be replaced. And it would seem reasonable to assume the “webification” of these devices will translate into increased unit costs.  So, paying for this functionality would itself justify its use. Hence, the investment is magnified by the additional cost for licensing these devices for accessing enterprise software.

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