We hear it everywhere now - "you've got to move to the Cloud" - and of course often you should, but that needs to be a fully informed, calculated, and well determined decision. Mostly migration to a provided virtual service (be it IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, ITaaS) is premised on ready access to technology at reduced cost as a result of the lower footprint in terms of in-house hardware and associated resources, but there's more to it than just that.
Lets look at the advantages you (can) get first:
Which all sounds very compelling. So, wait- there's no down side?
From a licensing perspective its hard not to be a little sceptical.
Typically you'll find its a vendor driving the initiative by promoting just the advantages, without insight into some of those vexing, pesky issues like license conversion and longer term costs - particularly when it comes to other vendor product in the mix as well, or that list of 'excluded software' which can include the base operating system (?!) typically licensed by cores - so just how many 'per core', 'activated processor cores' or 'RVUs' might be deemed available to your programmes, and therefore chargeable?
Then there's the investment in your current licenses that can be summarily dismissed for the seemingly more cost effective subscription pricing with the cloud solution. What about terms for full or partial license conversion (both to and from), or at minimum, some form of license protection in the event that you want to re-house your platform internally? Don't forget that once you commence your subscription and let your current support and maintenance lapse, theres typically an 80% reinstatement fee should you want to activate those entitlements again, or under more fortunate circumstances, perhaps just back-payment dating to expiry (and remember this is above and beyond those Cloud subscription fees you've been paying). Predicting what the future licensing costs might be has always been a minefield, but yet another 'new world' landscape presents enormous opportunity for software vendors to engineer more licensing models that, as we well know, generally seem attractive and start favourably but have a longer term objective - and thats increased revenue.
So while Cloud should be a considered option in most organisations, don't let the licensing elements be trivalised in favour of all those 'advantages'. Just as it is with on-premise software, your use of vendor software in the Cloud remains subject to compliance terms, and once all the hype settles, just as liable to strict audit and commercial remedy.