Oracle License Compliance: 3 Things You Need to Know

Posted on: June 22nd, 2016

Image: Word "Compliance" Under Magnifying Glass

Let’s face it, Oracle’s licensing policies around its various software product suites are not known for being straightforward.  Between core factors, VM restrictions, version upgrade limitations, and user minimums, it can be difficult to tell whether or not your organization is compliant with Oracle’s database licensing requirements.

Oracle’s complex licensing policies, along with the fact that the software can be downloaded directly from Oracle’s website with no product key required, creates a high potential for simple misunderstandings regarding which licenses a company has actually purchased.  And unfortunately, a simple misunderstanding can lead to massive unforeseen expenses if and when Oracle’s auditing team becomes involved.

Worse yet, if an audit finds a significant delta in licensing after a large project has already been completed under the assumption of compliance, correcting your environment to be in line with the audit findings is often not financially feasible. (Learn how you can become compliant before an audit here.)

That being said, there are a few general things you can look out for to avoid large installations of unlicensed Oracle software.

 

Here are our top 3 tips to help ensure Oracle license compliance:

 

1) Oracle does not recognize VMware as a soft partitioning tool to partially license servers.

This one is huge, as VMware is the market leader in virtualization software.  Almost everyone uses it.  Oracle’s licensing policies still permit you to use VMware in conjunction with Oracle software – but not as a soft partitioning tool to limit the number of licenses required for that server.

For example, let’s say you just bought a brand new two-socket, 16 total core server. After several planning meetings with the project team, you and your colleagues come to the decision that you only need one socket to run one of your applications – not to mention the fact that your CFO has no interest in purchasing double the number of Oracle Database Enterprise Edition licenses she needs.  So the decision is made to soft partition the server with VMware and purchase licenses to cover eight (8) of those 16 cores.

This is not allowed under Oracle’s terms and conditions.  If your organization gets audited, Oracle will promptly let you know that you are obligated to license the entire server.

 

2) Speaking of Oracle’s Enterprise Edition Database, watch out for the options.

As you can see in Oracle’s Technology price list, once you’ve graduated up to their Enterprise Edition Database, each of the options are licensed separately.  Diagnostics Packs, Tuning Packs, Partitioning licenses, and even Real Application Clusters all must be bought and licensed in addition to the basic Enterprise Edition Database license.

Some of these options can be turned on very easily and without a lot of thought – but when audit scripts are run on your servers, any usage will show up.

If your databases are already partitioned and you were not aware your company had not purchased that option, correcting the issue will be costly and time consuming – and your company’s management will not be pleased with the compliance bill they receive from Oracle.

 

3) Standard Edition and Standard Edition One are out.  Standard Edition 2 is in.

Oracle Database Standard Edition One, once a low cost entry point into the Oracle Database world, has been discontinued, as has Oracle’s middle tier database option, Oracle Database Standard Edition.  In place of both of these products is Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 – and it is more restrictive.

With Standard Edition, Oracle allowed customers to license servers with up to four (4) sockets.  Standard Edition 2, which costs the same as Standard Edition used to ($17,500 list price per processor license), can only be licensed on servers with up to two (2) sockets, and is hard coded to use no more than 16 CPU threads.

While you are certainly free to stay on Standard Edition and continue running it on your four socket servers, be warned: You cannot upgrade those databases past version 12.1.0.1.  So, if you were planning on upgrading to 12c to avoid extended support costs in the near future, you won’t be able to upgrade to the more recent (and far less buggy) version 12.1.0.2, or anything that is released going forward.


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