Free v Paid for software - do we need to buy software anymore?

Free v Paid for software - do we need to buy software anymore?

Over the past year, I’ve caught up with many old contacts, some of whom have moved on to new companies. When I tell them that I’m now heading a HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (now Micro Focus) Gold partner, selling testing software, many are very eager to hear more.

But I sometimes get the following dismissive response:

“I’ve used HPE testing software before, and would love to consider it – but it’s just too expensive for us.”

Other times I’m told that HPE software is only relevant for testing legacy software, doesn’t do what they need, is not relevant for Agile or DevOps.

Unfortunately, in some circles HPE has a reputation for being costly, inflexible and outdated. And perhaps a few years ago, that was justified.

But as we approach the end of 2017, that reputation is thoroughly undeserved – and is itself an outdated view.

Over the past few years, HPE has transformed its testing software and it is back to being best-of-breed, highly affordable and delivering excellent return-on-investment.

Let’s examine the evidence….

Competitive Pricing

I’ve worked with HPE for 17+ years. I’ve seen many changes – not least its merger with Micro Focus, which was completed this September - but possibly the biggest of all is the way they’ve revolutionised their pricing strategy and price list. In response to market forces, their software is as competitive as it’s ever been.

A few years ago, for example, a LoadRunner licence would have cost you £25,000.

Nowadays? £10.

Yes, that’s right. There is no “K” missing at the end of the figure. Just £10.

That’s affordable by any measure.

Perm, Term or SaaS – Different ways to buy

HPE’s prices aren’t just lower than they used to be. You can also access its products in a more flexible way – permanent licences, fixed term or SaaS - which lowers your costs again.


Everyone is familiar with the traditional model of buying permanent licences and annual support.


Now you can get fixed-term licences for many of the ever-popular solutions, including LoadRunner, StormRunner Load, UFT, ALM and Quality Center.

Paying £11,500 for a UFT (Unified Functional Testing) license is expensive if you only need it for a few months. But you can now rent it for those few months, at a fraction of the cost.


The vast majority of HPE’s new tools can be delivered via SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). That means you don’t have to buy the tools outright - you can get access to them as and when you need them, for example, if you need more licenses for the short term or for peaks in demand.

Take StormRunner Load, which is HPE’s new cloud-based performance testing tool for web, mobile apps and more. You can rent this software by the hour or month, for up to 12 months.

In the short-term SaaS is much cheaper. However, even in the longer term, SaaS can work out more cost effective than permanent licences over a 4-5 year period.

But SaaS isn’t just more affordable; It’s vastly more convenient, too. SaaS is typically quicker to deploy, available in a matter of days after you buy it. It also gives you fewer headaches down the line as there is no hardware to buy and maintain or software to upgrade.

This new vision creates options that work with your needs, making your testing software easier to buy and much more flexible to deploy and maintain.

Which brings me to my next point……

Modern Software

HPE’s testing software may have once been considered “legacy”. But there has been a dramatic change.

Four years ago, HPE set about modernising its software, to bring it up-to-date. They achieved this vision more than two years ago, with a suite of innovative products that are relevant whether you develop using Waterfall, Agile or DevOps.

Forrester Wave and Gartner Research both list HPE as a leader in this market now, due to HPE’s vision for their software - and ability to deliver on this vision.

I mentioned StormRunner Load earlier. This product received rave reviews from one of my clients, a large retail organisation testing a new eCommerce shop. They were using a competitor tool but were not confident in the results they were getting.

Initially they were resistant to HPE based on their experience of the cost of LoadRunner, which used to be a very expensive tool, but that soon changed. 

Once they tried HPE’s StormRunner Load, they were surprised by its ease of use, and particularly pleased that senior management could easily view and understand the results – something their previous tool did not deliver.

Or take Octane, which provides test management for Agile development. It’s universally liked by developers and testers, which is very unusual…..

One of the biggest changes is in the way HPE releases its software. In the past, there was one big release each year for each package.

With its Agile development plan, HPE delivers monthly updates for many of its tools, so in many cases, you do not have to wait to benefit from its latest innovations.

Reputations Can Change

Reputations are a funny thing. The way we perceive both people and companies is often based on no more than one old conversation, one experience that happened many years ago. We forget that time moves on – and things change.

HPE has certainly changed dramatically in the last few years. Their software has evolved. Their pricing has dropped. Their tools are very different from what you might remember.

If you haven’t revisited them in a while, it’s time to take another look.

Stephen Davis
by Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis is the founder of Calleo Software, a Micro Focus (formerly HPE Software) Gold Partner. His passion is to help test professionals improve the efficiency and effectiveness of software testing.

To view Stephen's LinkedIn profile and connect 

Stephen Davis LinkedIn profile

20th October 2017

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