Delay raises questions about Software Assurance

Delay raises questions about Software Assurance

Microsoft's disclosure that the release date for Yukon has slipped again gave some SQL Server users even more to think about than the potential effect on their IT project plans.

Many Microsoft server customers signed contracts for the Software Assurance program that the company introduced in October 2001, paying an annual amount equal to 25 per cent of their upfront license fees. The contracts cover two or, more typically, three years, and customers gain the rights to the upgrades of the covered products released during that time.

Microsoft last September enhanced Software Assurance by adding support and training options, as well as home-use rights for Office. But the latest delay of the next-generation database will likely mean some SQL Server users won't get an upgrade before their initial contracts expire. So far, the bad news is yet to raise concern in the Australian IT channel, according to Michelle Wilson, product manager at Microsoft licensing distributor Express Data.

“Currently, the information is still filtering through to the reseller and end-user market,” she said.

Similarly, a spokesperson for Microsoft reseller, Professional Advantage, said that it was too early to predict how customers would react to news of the delays.

The news has drawn a stronger reaction in the US, where SQL server customers have expressed outrage and questioned the value of Software Assurance.

Head of the Sydney .NET users group and Australia’s SQL Server users’ group, Adam Cogan, said that SQL users that were signed up with Software Assurance had a legitimate gripe.

“If you had purchased Software Assurance for every year since 2001 in anticipation of this release, then you are at a disadvantage,” he said. “If licensing is the reason you got Software Assurance, then you are not getting great value. But you have to remember that there are other reasons to get [Software Assurance] such as support and access to online resources.”

But a US analyst at Gartner, Alvin Park, said that he was not convinced that users saw 'enough added-value above and beyond a potential upgrade to want to buy Software Assurance".

Forrester analyst, Julie Giera, said many of her clients were approaching renewal dates for Software Assurance in the next four months. The timing of the delay was going to present Microsoft with some difficulty, Giera said.

"SQL Server customers especially should be trying to get concessions from Microsoft," he said

Cogan said he felt that SQL customers would feel less ripped off if Microsoft did not give away so much additional functionality around SQL server free of charge.

“SQL customers have received a lot of value for free,” he said. “If Microsoft only gave things such as SQL XML, SQL notifications, BI accelerator and SQL Reporting Services away to Software Assurance customers, they would see the value. Things like Reporting Services are products unto themselves – they are deep and comprehensive and can save the customer a lot if it means they don’t need to buy [Crystal Decisions] licenses.”

Microsoft Australia was given ample time to comment but unable to do so before ARN Online to press. The company is expected to make a comment later in the week.

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