The Potential Downside
License compliance can be a concern as one moves from a strict Client / Server model to a hybrid system. When applications are hosted on a Server, you can limit the number of users to whatever figure your concurrent licensing agreement provides for. If you have 50 concurrent AutoCAD licenses, you can enforce a strict limit of 50 concurrent users with little effort. Documenting compliance is much easier since it can be done from a single source. However, when you move the application hosting to individual machines, it can become burdensome to document and enforce full compliance. It can also become a hassle to configure a wide-spread upgrade deployment scheme. While there may be products like SMS and Tivoli to help push products to the desktop and document installed and executed applications, it adds another level of complexity to the mix that would not be there in a full Client / Server model. Investing in the software and the expertise needed to take full advantage is no low-impact item. It can in fact be a budget-buster while the kinks are worked out at the enterprise level. In our previous Linux article we mentioned the increasing cost of a blanket license now being required by Microsoft and some other companies depending on site specifics. A license of 50 concurrent users may not be as easy to obtain if the vendor has concerns about compliance. Instead, they may insist upon per-seat licenses for each and every employee who may have access to the software, upping costs noticeably. It may all depend on your specific configuration, but it is a possibility worthy of some investigation if you are trying to determine the cost impact of such a move.
In addition to licensing, you have the increased hardware costs. Historically, these have been quite high, and has been one of the many reasons why companies have seen infrastructure costs soar to record levels. However, with the drastic drop in PC system and component prices and adjustments to the depreciation table by Federal tax regulators, the edge has been taken off of these expenditures and it is possible to realize a tangible return on investment in a much shorter time.