Licence-itis and its Detritus

Complex Licence table

One of our resellers recently sent us a “price comparison” spreadsheet which had been produced by one of their legacy PBX vendors with a request that we produce something similar for our products to demonstrate where we sat competitively against their analysis.

Readers will be familiar with the format of these kind of “knock-off” tools: pick some contrived configuration where you have the best paper advantage over the competition and then work this up to prove that you are better all round.

“Easy” I thought, as we generally always come out better off on this kind of exercise for any none-trivial real world configuration due to our lack of per extension or per feature licencing charges.

What I really didn’t realise was just how near impossible it is to price up a comparative solution from many of the legacy PBX vendors with any certainty unless you really know the way around their arcane licencing policies and feature tables. For one vendor we ended up looking at an Excel spreadsheet with 46 tabs and a feature licence table with nearly 100 different options! I simply can’t see how this can be navigated without a week long “how to price up a solution” course.

Sadly it isn’t just the voice legacy vendors that are playing death by a thousand licence options as at least one data legacy entrant to the voice market seems to have adopted this model too.

So my question: how on earth do resellers cope with this kind of model model and what kind of detritus must it leave in its wake? What happens when you forget to include some key required licence, feature or part on the quote, do you just and up swallowing the cost, or is just knowing your preferred vendors licence permutations a competitive advantage in its own right for this reason?

About Rob Pickering

Rob is a reformed software engineer who has spent much of his life developing computer networking applications and infrastructure. His career started in the 1980s with hands on development of the Internet TCP/IP protocol stack through a spell as a development manager at 3Com in the 1990s before founding ipcortex where he is currently our CEO.
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