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Relicensing fees

© August 2005 Tony Lawrence

I've been trying to do an upgrade for a Munis customer running SCO 5.0.5 on a Compaq Proliant. It's been a bit of a mess for various reasons. Actually, the whole thing is downright silly because the customer plans to move to the Linux version next year, so there is absolutely no reason to do this upgrade: they are behind a firewall and need to authenticate before being allwed to telnet to this box from outside, there are no other ports open to the world, so the upgrade gives them absolutely nothing that they need. However, when the upgrade was first purchased, the thought was that they would be continuuing with SCO but getting new hardware next year, and for that, they'd obviously need to upgrade the SCO so that they could use the more modern server.

For now, they needed more disk space and more ram. With the help of the support outfit's hardware guy (a very bright, capable and genuinely nice guy named John and I would plug him even more if he worked for himself and I knew his last name), we got that done. I wanted that all up and working on the old OS before even thinking about an upgrade. That was done, it all was fine, and I arranged to come back another day to the the in place upgrade that I really, really did not want to do.

My thought then was that they should just wait. This is critical software for them, and I really, really don't like doing in place upgrades. Not that you can't recover from some horrible screwup (they run a Supertar), but restoring their data is a four hour process. I don't want to run the chance of having to sit through that, they don't want to be down that long, and don't want to pay for that time either.

But they wanted to do it, so I returned and tried it. At the end of the install, where it relinks the kernel, I ran into a conflict with the Compaq EFS. I don't know why, but that afternoon I couldn't find anything on line referencing this problem. It's partially explained at https://wdb1.sco.com/kb/showta?taid=125587 but I was looking for upgrade help, so I missed that. Nothing left to do but revert to the old system; a four hour Supertar restore.

I was not happy. Either was the customer, or the support outfit that had contracted me to do this. Worse, they were under the impression that my estimate of the normal time required for this type of work meant that I shouldn't charge them any more for coming back the next time. I had a bit of a row with them, where they insisted that since they had quoted the customer a fixed price, I'd have to be happy with what I had so far. I told them a story about flying pigs and explained that if I wasn't getting more money, I wouldn't be going back. Somewhere in there this company discovered that I had never signed their standard sub-contractors agreement which apparently forces their subs into just that sort of fixed payment. They now said that they would pay for additional time, but rather strongly suggested that I needed to sign this contract if I wanted future work from them. I in turn explained that if they wanted any future work from me, they'd deal with my terms, and there would be none of that contract signing business. No offense meant, sorry about the misunderstanding, but I don't work that way. I get paid by the hour. Period. They seemed to accept that rather graciously, I thought.

So, with that behind us, we discussed our next move. The idea they had was to get identical hardware and install on that, thereby avoiding any risk of further delays and problems. I had by now identified where the problem came from, so felt confident we could go ahead without danger.

So, they procured identical hardware (these things are not hard to find on Ebay) and I did a base install of the new SCO off-site just to be sure we didn't have any obvious problems. My hope was that we could pull the three RAID 5 drives from the original machine and pop them into this box, but that idea was quickly squashed by varying firmware and Quickstart raid configuration software. So a four hour tape restore was going to happen anyway, but since there was nothing critical about it being successful (as the original machine was still up and available), that was of lesser concern.

What did concern me was licensing. It's typical for applications like this to require new licenses when switching hardware or OS version. Sometimes nothing is required, but usually it's pretty easy: you call the app vendor, perhaps pay them a nominal fee, and they give you a new license. Once in a while you run into some greedy vendor who wants thousands of dollars for a simple upgrade, but that's rare.

So, I had placed a call to Munis support early that morning, where I had to leave voice mail explaining what I was doing and asking for a call back. Apparently that is the usual procedure; leave a message, they'll call back. I went back to work downloading drivers for the nic, the Supertar software and doing other stuff to prepare for the switch. Around 1:00 PM or so the restore was proceeding nicely so I broke for lunch and left the tape spinning along.

When I returned, the Munis support folks were on the phone. It had been so long I had actually forgotten about them, but the person at the other end explained that there was a $100.00 charge and they'd need a PO faxed by the customer. OK, fairly small dollars, and we could get a PO easily enough. And how quickly could I get the new license, I asked?

A few days..

A few days? What the..

No way to get it today? No, impossible.

Well, that killed that. I interrupted the restore - no point, because it would just have to be done again another day. I explained the situation to the customer. She didn't have to think long about it: "Let's just forget it. I'm going to Linux next year, and this is just getting ridiculous. We won't bother with this."

Well, honestly, OK by me. The new machine seemed to be having some keyboard problems with the KVM anyway, and had locked up on me several times. Although the hardware guy who had been sent along to swap machines etc. felt he could fix that later, the whole thing wasn't feeling very comfortable. Couple that with the utter pointlessness of doing this upgrade to begin with, and I was completely happy to let it go. They'll have new hardware next year, a fresh Linux install, and they'll be a lot better off. Let it be so.

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More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

Tue Aug 30 13:20:24 2005: 1042   BigDumbDinosaur

Although the hardware guy who had been sent along to swap machines etc. felt he could fix that later, the whole thing wasn't feeling very comfortable. Couple that with the utter pointlessness of doing this upgrade to begin with, and I was completely happy to let it go. They'll have new hardware next year, a fresh Linux install, and they'll be a lot better off. Let it be so.

You did get paid for this fiasco, no?

Tue Aug 30 15:43:05 2005: 1043   TonyLawrence

I expect to be paid, yes :-)

Wed Aug 31 13:27:52 2005: 1049   bruceg2004

Why so long to get a license? I have never heard of anything like that.

- Bruce

Wed Aug 31 17:03:50 2005: 1050   TonyLawrence

I never have heard of this either - I've always been able to get relicensed quickly, usually a matter of minutes, maybe an hour or so. This was quite the surprise..


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