Understanding LoadRunner licensing

LoadRunner licensing seems to confuse some people (there are currently 2563 product numbers under the "Performance Center" centre in the HP pricelist). This Tech Tip attempts to clarify how it all works.

LoadRunner licenses fall into one of the following categories:

When you purchase a LoadRunner license, you will need to purchase a license for a LoadRunner Controller and for a certain number of Virtual Users of a particular type.

In the past, Mercury used to require a license for each of the separate LoadRunner monitors, but now purchasing a Controller license will get you all of the LoadRunner monitors (which makes things much simpler).

You cannot run any tests with your LoadRunner Controller until you have purchased a license for some virtual users.

The information you will need to collect for a licensing quote is:

  • Protocol/Vuser type
  • License duration
  • Number of virtual users (if you will need multiple protocols, you will need to break the number of virtual users down by vuser type)

Virtual User Types

All licenses are based on the type of virtual user, so you will need to understand what protocol your application uses to communicate with the server (the new Protocol Advisor feature in LoadRunner 9.50 will help with this).

LoadRunner comes with 49 different types of virtual user. For licensing purposes, these are divided into 16 protocol "bundles". The bundles are priced differently, depending on the amount of functionality you receive. For example, the COM/DCOM bundle just contains the COM/DCOM vuser type, but the SAP bundle contains SAP - Web, SAP - (Click and Script), and SAPGUI vuser types. Note that the Web & Multimedia bundle does not contain the Web (Click and Script) virtual user - it is in the Web 2.0 bundle.

LoadRunner prices for different vuser types

The bar graph above does not include the GUI virtual user type, which allows you to run QuickTest Pro scripts as part of your LoadRunner scenario.

License Duration

There are three main LoadRunner license types: perpetual, term (1 month or 3 month), and Virtual User Days. These are all priced differently.

LoadRunner license price comparison

The license types are the following:

  • A Perpetual License lasts forever. It is the best value license type if a company plans to do ongoing performance testing (especially regression testing). Note that you will have to pay an annual "Maintenance" fee which entitles you to support, new product versions, and patches. A very small number of customers choose not to pay a maintenance fee, and stay with the same version of LoadRunner for many years, and try to get by without access to the HP's support knowledgebase and support consultants. The annual maintenance fee is approximately 22% of the cost of the license, so not paying maintenance makes no sense unless your upgrade cycle is longer than 5 years (the break-even point).
  • A Term License lasts for either 1 month or 3 months. A 1-month term license is a little over half the price of the 3-month term license, so if you think you will need a license for 2 months, it makes sense to by the 3-month license instead of two 1-month licenses.
  • Virtual User Days confuse a lot of people. Basically, a VUD will allow you to run 1 virtual user for 1 day; so 1000 VUDs would let you run tests with 1000 vusers for a single day, or let you run tests with 100 vusers over 10 days. LoadRunner 9.50 added better logging to keep track of how many VUDs have been used. The smallest number of VUDs that can be purchased is 1000.
  • An alternative to purchasing a license is Software as a Service. HP manage several very large Performance Center instances and load generator farms that can be used to run tests against public-facing websites. This can be useful for one-off tests with a massive number of concurrent users. Currently HP has no load generators in Australian data centres, but you should be able to connect to other load generators (e.g. JDS has load generators in data centres in the larger Australian cities).

How many virtual users?

Permanent licenses for virtual users are sold in packs of 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, 1500, 2500, 5000, and 10000. As you can see from the graph, the price per virtual user becomes smaller if you buy more vusers. If you need more than 10000 virtual users, you should negotiate directly with HP or an HP partner.

LoadRunner cost per virtual user

Virtual User Days are sold in packs of up to 1 million VUDs.

Other Notes

  • HP have been known to negotiate "all you can eat licenses" with larger customers, where they are offered unlimited licenses over a particular time period (e.g. 5 years).
  • An "all you can eat" license will not include an unlimited number of certain virtual user types, as these vusers require HP to pay a royalty to another company (e.g. DCOM vusers).
  • HP does charge for media (software on DVD + hardcopy manuals). You can save a small amount of money by downloading the software instead, and using the PDF manuals.
  • License costs are based on the US dollar, so prices in other countries will change when the exchange rate changes. Currently the Australian dollar is worth almost $US 0.90, so it is not a bad time to buy software licenses from HP.
  • HP Diagnostics is licensed separately, but to integrate it with LoadRunner, you will need to request a new LoadRunner license with this enabled. There is no charge for the new LoadRunner license key.
  • Buying a LoadRunner license entitles you to a free 500-point SiteScope for LoadRunner license

Note that information is correct for LoadRunner 9.5, but may change in the future. Talk to a sales rep from HP or an HP partner (like JDS) for actual prices.

Tech tips from JDS