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The report, conducted by Flexera Software LLC with input from IDC, had enterprises rank the top 11 software vendors -- Adobe, CA, Citrix, EMC, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce.com, Symantec and VMware -- in categories ranging from price and ease of use to licensing costs and rules. The survey had eight statements that the respondents could either "Strongly Agree," "Agree," "Disagree," or "Strongly Disagree."
Citrix finished as the top software vendor in three different categories, VMware and HP each finished first in two categories and EMC was the top choice for one.
It wasn't just one area that Citrix shined in either as they were inside the top five in all categories except for one and were top three in all categories except for two. The three statements that Citrix had the highest percentage of users were:
- The prices for this vendor's applications are reasonable and provide good ROI (87%)
- This vendor's licensing rules around mobile, virtualization and the cloud will better facilitate our organization's migration to those environments (88%)
- We rarely face software license compliance audits from this vendor (94%)
Citrix will certainly be happy to see that nearly 90% of enterprises agreed that its price and ROI, which are often two of the biggest factors when making a decision, is reasonable.
VMware is often criticized among users for its high cost of ownership -- and, in fact, its two poorest finishes were in questions related to licensing. However, it still finished fourth in the category asking about ROI and received high marks for the functionality of its software.
Over 90% of enterprises agreed or strongly agreed that VMware's "applications are easy to manage, apply patches, maintain and upgrade" as well as it is easy for enterprises to "understand and manage our usage of and spend" for VMware's applications. Meanwhile, Microsoft, which averaged an eighth place finish overall, had 87% of enterprises agree that its applications are easy to manage -- by far its best finish in all of the categories.
Citrix's worst finish in terms of rank was sixth overall for "applications are easy to manage, apply patches, maintain and upgrade," but the rank can be a bit deceiving. For that statement, 84% of enterprises said they strongly agree or agree. By comparison, the same percentage of enterprises strongly agreed or agreed that they "rarely face software license compliance audits" from Citrix, which tied for first in that category.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Oracle had nearly half (44%) of the enterprises either "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree" that its prices are reasonable. The company didn't fare too well in the application department as it finished at the bottom in each of those categories too.
"When it comes to software licensing, vendors have multiple options in how they choose to offer their software," said Brian Kirsch, an IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College. "A key element is whether to offer software licensing programs based on customer needs or on offerings that benefit the provider. Unfortunately several vendors have stuck with an old mindset of how critical their products are and why customers should feel honored that they can purchase the software," Kirsch said.
If virtualization companies were among the top finishers in this survey, companies that have been criticized for making it hard to use their software in a virtual environment -- specifically Oracle -- received poor marks.
"In today's IT world, the customer still should come first and not the company providing the software. Many of Oracle's customers were reminded where they stood with Oracle in 2013, when Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, missed his keynote speech at Oracle's OpenWorld in favor of attending the America's Cup. Unlike many of the other vendors, in Oracle's world, the customer and how the software is licensed is only important when it's convenient for Oracle," Kirsch said.
Although Microsoft finished on the lower end of the spectrum, it's key to remember that the company offers many products besides its virtualization and server operating system software. Despite not finishing high when ranked by company, over 70% of enterprises strongly agreed or agreed on over half of the statements for Microsoft.
Overall, Citrix had the best average finish, VMware averaged fourth and Microsoft came in eighth on average.
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