In Enterprise IT we’re all used to life cycle managed of equipment. For a long time, one of the most painful areas for this was the storage array. Every few years it became time to rip out the old gear and bring in the new. That process has gotten much better, but one thing still bothers me. What happens to the software that I paid for when I bought that storage array? The idea isn’t limited to storage arrays either. Enterprise IT shops buy software to do something, then their needs change, and they replace that software. As long as they got the business value from the software, no one cares that they essentially throw the bits away. When dealing with big vendors, like VMware or HPE, this is where the Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) comes into play. It’s an agreement between a vendor and a customer saying that vendor agrees to provide and support software in return for money. Some of the better ones allow you to take unused software and roll it over into something else, but often at a reduced value. All in all, this is a good thing, but the problem is it’s usually limited to one company or product type.
What that means is my VMware software, even with an ELA, becomes useless if I decide to become a Hyper-V shop. If I decide to stop using EMC Avamar for backups, the ELA might let me switch to RecoverPoint software licensing – but only if I had to foresight to call out RecoverPoint in the ELA. All in all an ELA is usually a good thing but clearly, has some pretty serious limitations. At Dell EMC World a new TLA, Transformational License Agreement, was announced which aims to remove the limitations of the traditional ELA. With a TLA software can be exchanged for any other software offered, not just ones called out in the agreement. In additional pre-paid credits for education and professional services, usually distinct items, are merged into a single credit. That means you can use credits for education, software, PS engagement, or ever cloud services. All in all this TSA seems to be a step in the right direction, but I do have one question: is this limited to Dell EMC or can I have one agreement for the entire Dell Technologies portfolio?
When Dell acquired EMC, they bought a company with a huge portfolio of software products including Pivotal, VMware, and RSA. Today and organization have a Pivotal ELA, and VMware ELA, and several ELAs with EMC. Each was its own entity. What I want is a single TLA that allows me to exchange any Dell Technologies software once I’m done with other software from the entire family. If I no longer need this $5,000 of VMware licenses, I want to be able to deploy $5,000 worth of RSA software. I want to stop wasting unused software. It’s not clear if the TSA is a Dell EMC thing of a Dell Technologies thing, but I’m hoping it is the latter. If the TLA is going to live up to its transformational name, it’s going to have to work on any Dell Technologies software. Otherwise, it’s just an improved ELA with a new name.