How might it affect performance and licensing?
As the full implications emerge with the design of Intel's (and potentially others) x64 processor (see more at the Register here) we await with interest a response from software vendors as to how the corresponding issue of licensing will be answered and resolved.
Given patches are now being released (eg. AWS EC2 5th January, Azure the 10th January) the resultant performance impacts will become the subject of intense scrutiny. Why? well if, as reported, processing power diminishes anywhere from 5 to 30 percent how will customers be compensated?
Processor and Core based software has been dutifully acquired on the basis of the underlying performance of the chipsets on which the products are run (consider IBM's PVUs, Microsofts Core minimums etc). Now though, if that proves to be erroneous, surely a remedy must be made available to the customer who has paid for a defined - and benchmarked - level of processing power?
Take the scenario whereby a customers current 2,000 PVUs can no longer deliver the required throughput and needs a further 500 PVUs in order to deliver the same capability - you would be right to expect no additional charges to apply given there is no improvement in performance surely? And what about needing more hardware just to achieve the current level of demand, or a Cloud vendor purchasing an array of new servers in order to provision more vCPUs for their PaaS / SaaS customers just to meet the same CPU cycles ?
That all costs money, so ... Who Pays??
Which then presents an intriguing conundrum for the chip makers and the software vendors. Presumably there will be a vast re-benchmarking exercise (and consider chipsets produced in the last 10 years are potentially affected) the question then being, what is to be done on the basis of the results? Compensation? Free License Grants? Reduced Annual Maintenance fees??
So we expectantly await vendor responses once the focus on getting fixes out shifts to the underlying and associated commercial dilemma confronting the industry. What can you do in the meantime? Firstly, make sure you have current performance metrics that you can measure any degradation against, and then pose these questions to your vendor Account Manager, your Sales Rep, your Software Specialist - ask how any performance issues you experience might be remediated in the immediate term, and request an open and regular communication channel to stay informed as it all progresses ...
We firmly believe - if the projected performance impacts do transpire - this issue will prove to be one of the most perplexing problems to emerge in the IT industry in many years.
Watch this space for further updates as more unfolds.