Veritas users plead for simpler licensing

During a Q&A session on the opening day of Veritas Visions, a user asks CEO Gary Bloom when the company will fix its unmanageable licensing model.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Licensing is an age-old problem for Veritas Software Inc. users, but the company appears, at least, to be acknowledging the issue now. CEO Gary Bloom said during his keynote speech at the company's user show Monday that he has a dedicated team working on fixing the model.

A storage administrator from Banknorth Inc. plucked up the courage to ask Bloom during a Q&A session when this will happen, prompting a round of applause from the 3,400 attendees at the show.

Unlike other software companies, Veritas has no way of tracking user licenses, so when a customer calls up and asks for a list of how many it has, Veritas can't help them.

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"It's a big problem, we had one customer paying support on 25% of licenses that weren't even deployed," said Ken Cruise, president of Austin, Texas-based reseller, Teqsys Inc. The firm has around 250 Veritas customers and even sells a service to track Veritas licenses. "Sometimes it takes us weeks to track down which ones are deployed and which ones aren't -- customers don't have time for this," Cruise said.

Bloom said that Veritas hears this problem "loud and clear" and is working on simplifying its model. "It's hard to articulate dates on a road map but we understand that key management is an issue," he said.

Pricing is also a problem Peter Jennings, storage administrator for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, has roughly 150 servers running Veritas Volume Manager and Cluster Server products. Veritas prices its software on a per-server basis. "We buy more and more from them, but there's never a break in the price," he said. Jennings said he is hoping that with the Symantec Corp. merger, he will get a better deal as Symantec has been more sensitive to pricing requirements in the past.

The newspaper is also looking at replacing Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) with NetBackup. "If Veritas will give us credit for TSM, we will trade it in for its product, but we want an across-the-board break in pricing," Jennings said. He added that there is too much scripting with TSM, which he described as "lackluster and an old approach to storage management."

Julio Bermudez, systems administrator for Sybase Inc., complained at how expensive Veritas products are and that they have a greater requirement for tools as the company has less people managing storage today. "It is just very expensive and complicated and they charge you for every little thing," he said.

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