Users mull Domino effect

Poor communication by IBM has left some Lotus Domino customers in the dark about software licensing changes that take effect in less than a month.

From January 10 Lotus Domino server licensing will become CPU-based. The change will affect customers on the anniversary of their contract after January 10.

AMP New Zealand IT manager Dean Rossiter hadn't been informed of the changes, but as some of the company's servers have four CPUs it faces an increase in both cost and administrative overheads, he said. Rossiter tried to talk to someone at IBM about the issue but was told to ring AMP's reseller, Certus Consulting.

"I think that's a complete abdication of responsibility. IBM has the responsibility to inform the end user rather than rely on partners and resellers."

Lotus user group facilitator Mark Presnell, a developer and reseller, says lack of communication about the change has been an issue with a number of his clients.

"There hasn't been any formal communication either directly or through the channel. The changes came into effect from October 1 and we didn't hear about it until November."

Presnell notes, however, that for people on a single CPU server, the bulk of local sites, the change will be positive.

This is because IBM has combined Domino Application Server (one to four CPUs), Domino Enterprise Server (five to eight CPUs) and Domino Advanced Enterprise Server (nine-plus CPUs) into one product called Domino Enterprise Server. It will have clustering and partitioning features that previously were only in the Advanced Enterprise Server product.

"Therefore those people with a single CPU server will pay the same price as for Domino Application Server but get the clustering and partitioning features which were only in the Enterprise Server edition," Presnell says.

It will be up to customers to inform IBM of how many CPUs they are running, as IBM will assume the maximum number. Other Lotus products, such as Notes, are to move to this pricing model but have different effective dates.

An IBM spokesperson in Australia said the licensing issue was more specific to New Zealand. "It doesn't really affect people here [Australia]," the spokesperson said. "Due to the size of the market here a lot of our customers are on CEO pricing [per user pricing], which means that this doesn't effect them."

In addition the spokesperson said its business partners were aware of the changes and that customers will be notified "well in advance. Customers that renew in January have been communicated to already. Customers who renew in May, for example, "won't be communicated to until closer to their licence anniversary."

"Based on customer requests to simplify and reduce the number of pricing metrics, it was decided that per-CPU pricing would allow customers to maximise their performance and IT investment and help lower the overall cost of ownership for their IBM software solution," read an email statement from the company.

The email said IBM is standardising its pricing structure across all brands to make it easier for customers to buy and deploy software from Lotus, Tivoli, DB2 and WebSphere.

Duncan Hewitt, regional manager of Lotus Australia and New Zealand said this does not necessarily mean a price hike for customers. "IBM Lotus software is not increasing licence prices. Lotus software makes changes to its pricing model regularly in response to issues such as new products and changes in the marketplace. For example, a price decrease of 18% came into effect for all customers on the Lotus CEO complete enterprise option on October 10."

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