Not all wireless networks serve the same types of clients, or have the same operational goals in mind. So why do WLAN vendors see all customers as the same when it comes to licensing?
I know that we all have the freedom to negotiate the deepest discounts that we can with our WLAN vendors, and in this regard large customers tend to get better discounts because they buy more stuff. But whether you are talking large or smaller customers, even “within tier” there are significant differences among environments that perhaps ought to bear on licensing costs and strategies offered by vendors for advanced features.
Here’s what I mean- if I have an environment of hundreds or thousands of APs and want to do something like advanced location analytics to “monetize” my WLAN or gain workflow efficiencies to increase profits, I would expect to pay a premium for the magic that that makes that happen in the form of hardware and features from my WLAN vendor. After all, that’s an obvious investment. But if I’m a hospital or not-for-profit, or even a University or college, and my use for that same magic is more altruistic and not attached to obvious profit, should my costs for the magic be the same? Asked another way, is it reasonable to want the WLAN vendor to charge a fraction of the cost of the same magic if all I want to use it for is simple handicap-routing and no-profit mapping just to help visitors get around?
Can licensing ever be based on “what are you actually gonna do with that magic?” I know that I priced up a big, fancy locations-based analytic service for my own environment with the intention of providing it essentially for the public good- not for turning a profit off of it. But my costs come in in the hundreds of thousands of dollars- just the same way it would if I was going to make lots of money on those same services.
I know the notion of use case-based licensing is a bit weird and complicates life for the vendors, but from the customer perspective it is an idea with appeal.