Software Licensing For The Cloud: Morphlabs Goes Hourly

John Moore

January 13, 2011

3 Min Read
Software Licensing For The Cloud: Morphlabs Goes Hourly


Software licensing in the cloud has been a topic of discussion for a while. Morphlabs, a cloud platform vendor, offers a different twist to the conversation: hourly pricing for Zend Technologies’ PHP Web application server.

Morphlabs in November 2010 announced integration with Zend and the pricing feature, now scheduled for release at the end of 1Q 2011. Hourly pricing for Zend Server is provided through metering technology built into Morphlabs’ mCloud offering.

Initially, the pricing will be available in conjunction with Morphlab’s mCloud Controller, an appliance-based cloud platform for MSPs and corporate data centers. The mCloud Controller supports Java, Ruby on Rails and PHP. Over time, solutions that can be purchased by the hour will also be available through other products, noted George Telenko, director of marketing and channel development at Morphlabs.

Software priced for the cloud has the potential to make platform more cost effective. A customer using PHP and moving to the cloud could expect to trim hardware outlays, noted Winston Damarillo, chief executive officer at Morphlabs.

But an hourly, pay-for-consumption approach dramatically lowers a customer’s software expenditures as well, he added. With the hourly scenario, a customer forecasting peak demand of 100 servers doesn’t need to license 100 standby Zend Servers.

How did Morphlabs derive hourly pricing for Zend Server in the cloud? Damarillo said most PHP servers run on quad core machines with licensing based on quad core processor per year. The Morphlabs approach with Zend is to divide the usual license price by eight and then determine the price per hour.

“The pricing is based on the … typical install and the current Zend per-instance (server) pricing,” Telenko explained. “Dividing by eight is a result of the equivalent of two EC2 computes per core on a quad core machine.”

The utility pricing model will benefit software developers looking to offer products through Morphlab’s cloud platform, according to Morphlabs.

“Utility pricing allows the software company to be exposed to a wider audience and more potential business — end users are able to more efficiently consume software,” Telenko said. “This pricing also gives service providers a solution that better lines up with the business model of selling virtualized resources ‘on demand,’” he added.

Damarillo said he believes other software companies will start moving toward hourly pricing. Discussions to that effect are in the works, as Morphlabs hopes to offer more per-hour arrangements.

“Most software companies need to think about how to license software to use in cloud,” Damarillo noted.

Major shifts in computing have previously impacted software licensing — and the results haven’t always been pleasant. In the early 1990s — amid the arrival of data center outsourcing — CA and EDS sued each other over licensing issues. We’ll see if that kind of acrimony winds up in the cloud or whether vendors will play nice.

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