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Cut enterprise software licence costs with server DRAM and SSDs

How to cut server software licence costs

Use fewer licences by maximizing CPU cores with DRAM and SSDs

There are two big problems with your IT budget. One: it’s not growing fast enough to keep up with exploding data growth, which is increasingly software-driven. And two: a large portion of your budget is essentially walled-off for “fixed” software licence costs. In the era of software-defined everything, we’ve found this portion of the budget to increasingly consume more funds each year – but it doesn’t have to. By fully utilizing the CPU cores you licence, you can use fewer licences across your deployment and save tens of thousands of pounds in the process. Here’s how and why it works.

Enterprise software licences are priced per CPU core

Why reducing software licences is a proven way to maximize your IT budget

According to Gartner’s 2018 worldwide IT spend forecast, enterprise software spend is projected to grow 7% versus an overall IT growth rate of just 2.6%.1 For many IT departments, enterprise software spend is the fastest-growing line item on the budget, which makes containing licence costs more important than ever before. Fortunately, this is easy to do because software licences are attached to CPU cores, which are fed by memory and storage. The more performance you get out of each processing core, the fewer licences you need, the lower your costs will be, and the more performance you’ll get out of the apps you’re licensing.


Save on licence costs by fueling CPU cores with DRAM and SSDs


Here are a few enterprise applications used in almost every industry, plus a rundown of licence costs, how they’re priced, whether they’re memory and storage dependent, and how you can save.


How much server software licences cost

» Assumptions
» How we came up with these numbers

How RAM fuels VMs and virtualization

How to virtualize enterprise applications and beat the core cost game

The core-based licensing model that Microsoft, Oracle, and others have adopted for enterprise software allows you to create an unlimited number of VMs on each CPU core you’re licensing, which is great, but you have to take advantage of it. If you don’t create as many VMs as possible, your money doesn’t go as far. However, in order to create more VMs, you need more memory, as each VM draws upon the same pool of available memory, plus the virtualization software itself needs RAM to run. On top of that, the apps you’re likely virtualizing are memory-dependent, meaning they revolve around active data that lives in memory.


Effective virtualization also requires fast storage because virtualized apps often run out of memory, which triggers disk thrash. Since SSDs deliver significantly faster performance than hard drives, they allow you to maintain optimal performance even when you run out of memory. Enterprise SSDs also allow you to access, load, and save things almost instantly so you get the most out of your software spend. If you’re going to dedicate hundreds of thousands to software every year, you might as well get fast performance out of each and every app.

Effective virtualization with Micron SAS enterprise SSDs

The cost of software licences vs. the hardware that powers them

Since all cores running an app have to be licenced, the best way to save is to fully utilize each and every CPU core. If you only use your licenced CPU cores 50% of the time, you’re significantly overpaying for your software (unless the low CPU utilization is driven by your workload, which would make it expected and OK). However, if your bottleneck is hardware – the case for most IT departments – then there’s an easy way to save. Just fully utilize your cores because they’re what you’re paying for. And a lot of the time, CPU cores are left idling, waiting to get data from memory and storage.

The best way to ensure your CPUs run 24/7 is to fuel them with more RAM and fast I/O by swapping out existing hard drives for enterprise SSDs. For business-critical applications like Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server, swap out existing SAS hard drives for SAS SSDs. And in newer servers that’ll take drives with the NVMe interface, install those instead. Either way, both RAM and SSDs are a fraction of the cost of licensing a single server – here’s how it breaks down.


The cost of server software licences versus memory and SSDs
» How we came up with these numbers

4 key takeaways

  1. A joint DRAM and SSD upgrade is less than 7% the cost of licensing an Oracle Database server3
  2. An SSD upgrade is less than 16% the cost of licensing a SQL server; a DRAM upgrade <6% 3
  3. You can likely cut several different licences when you make your hardware more efficient
  4. You can’t afford to underutilize CPU performance

The long-term implications of a hardware vs. software investment

When you look at hardware versus software costs, it’s important to remember that licences hit your budget every year as an operating expense, whereas a hardware upgrade is a one-time, multi-year investment that benefits you for the life of the drive or module.

A DRAM and SSD upgrade pays for itself

The bottom line: a hardware upgrade pays for itself

Software licences aren’t optional, but they don’t have to be treated as fixed costs. By investing a fraction of your budget into more memory and enterprise SSDs to fuel the applications you’re licensing, you can immediately start saving and improve performance. Spend a little now to save a lot every year through increased CPU utilization – and fewer recurring licences.


Compatible upgrades. Guaranteed. Find the right upgrades with either of our easy-to-use tools.

helpful resources

How to save up to 35% by installing your own server DRAM and SSDs
How more RAM helps overcome 5 top workload constraints
When to scale up – or scale out – your data centre
How much RAM do you need for virtualised server applications?
How Crucial server memory is made