3 simple ways to take control of your Oracle licensing

 In Software, Volume Licensing

It’s a simple fact: Software licensing is difficult to understand and manage. Even the savviest IT professional can struggle to comprehend certain complex language and terms in licensing agreements from the major software manufacturers. For example, companies report they often have difficulty understanding and complying with Oracle’s licensing rules, particularly when it comes to virtualization conflicts and upgrades that require additional licenses.

Case in point, one organization received a bill for millions of dollars, due in 30 days, after an audit revealed that the company was inadvertently virtualizing much of its infrastructure without the proper licensing. The organization brought on SHI, which eventually helped reduce the total cost owed by 90 percent, but this experience shows how ignorance of licensing can result in major costs.

Here are three common Oracle licensing challenges IT staffs are faced with, and three solutions that can alleviate those headaches and diminish the chances of an audit.

three checks

Three common pitfalls with Oracle licensing

1. Limited third-party virtualization: IT professionals that rely on certain virtualization technology will find themselves at odds with Oracle’s licensing practices. Oracle doesn’t recognize VMware’s virtualization technology for the purposes of licensing (though it does approve other technologies in addition to its own). Many companies break down servers and install virtualization on some stacks, but Oracle requires licensing of the entire physical server. Many customers fail to realize this, end up severely under licensed, and can get stuck with a large bill after an audit.

2. Opting into services without realizing: Oracle’s database products, no matter what version, come with the entire suite of services upon installation. Individual services and features can be turned on, but in many cases will require an additional license. Many customers make the mistake of buying and installing the baseline version of Oracle’s database solution, and without realizing it, use an option that requires another license and a full upgrade to the next version of the software. Then, after an audit, the company is left with more licenses than initially anticipated and a large bill.

3. A lack of information: Similar Oracle products, and all their bells and whistles, can be licensed very differently and often without explanation. As a result IT professionals often find it difficult to know the required licenses for each specific program and service.

Three ways to better approach Oracle licensing

1. Adopt an Oracle-on-Oracle solution: One way to alleviate licensing headaches is to turn to Oracle for a full solution — Oracle software on Oracle hardware. When you buy Oracle servers and install Oracle software, virtualization software is included, which eliminates the problem detailed above. Overall, customers can simplify licensing with an Oracle-on-Oracle solution, as they are licensed for exactly what they need, while dramatically reducing the chances of an audit and licensing compliance issues.

2. Study up, and do your homework: Enterprise companies with large IT staffs should have a dedicated professional who understands and monitors licensing. Before contract renewals, IT should examine current licensing and determine if changes are needed. If they can’t find the information or answers they’re looking for, IT professionals can consult an independent third-party vendor about licensing changes and compliance. IT should also be introspective: Is my company using VMware? How are users interacting with the solution, and are they using features that require another license? Am I ready for an audit?

3. Step out of the picture, and hand off your licensing: Third-party vendors can take over the management of licensing from IT departments that might not be equipped to understand the complexity of each agreement, and ensure the company purchases the correct licenses. Because third-party vendors can negotiate with software companies directly, organizations might lower costs by tapping an outside source to manage licenses.

Contact your SHI Account Executive today to help examine your Oracle licensing landscape, and to begin a conversation about letting SHI manage your software licensing.

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  • Larry Timmins

    Interesting article with a suggestion towards offloading your license management rather than how to really understand the way to maintain a solution that optimizes both Oracle performance and the restrictions and limits that Oracle licensing costs.

    The 2nd “pitfall” is well worth understanding and I’m glad you pointed out. Just because Oracle Enterprise Edition has Partitioning or Diagnostic Pack with OEM (Oracle Enterprise Manager) doesn’t mean you can use then and not have to pay for those licenses.

    Your point about having to license the entire physical server is not as much of a hardship as the imposition of a restriction on the number of licenses you need depending on the total number of cores the physical server has.

    The Oracle Cores-per-Processor Licensing factors obviously favor Sun solutions (4 cores for every 1 Processor licensing you have) versus Intel (2 cores : processor ) which was not mentioned.

    In general, I would have liked to see SHI explore or advocate for Oracle customers on how Oracle licensing stops many organizations from using for Oracle VMs the same virtualization best practices that can for other enterprise applications.

    One option that was not explored by the author was moving Oracle backups (via RMAN) into Oracle Database Backup as a Service, and later, for instance, for quick interim DR, start an instance of Oracle EE or Oracle Standard Edition and load your Oracle backup all in the Oracle cloud services — which includes licensing in the hourly or monthly rental (determined at time of use) — and was attractive as soon as I heard about it.

    While I’m not trying to be a contrarian, but putting Oracle as a VM on VMware (using Red Hat Enterprise Linux) remains the best solution for many shops. I don’t think putting Oracle on an all Oracle solution (better approach 1) is more appealing than better approach 2 — and I would like to see further articles that focus solely on sharing SHI experiences on Oracle database servers as a VM solutions in non-Oracle infrastructure.

    I’d be glad to provide a look at our migration from HP-UX on HP Itanium servers to VMs. We looked at all the Oracle virtualization options, and was unimpressed with the Oracle knowledge in the field teams and online forums. In addition, Oracle resources were stretched to go beyond basic sales materials and there seemed to be a fresh input of new personnel that knew nothing of the 30 years of Oracle database achievements and best practices that IT Enterprises have lived through. We had to look elsewhere regarding the many questions, including server platform, Oracle licensing, etc. We did “Study up” approach — but not blindly — based on a Oracle as a VM architecture that evolved from Oracle on a local server, to server-with-SAN to Oracle ASM-server-with-SAN to our goal of a fully distributed highly available infrastructure to reduce our Data Warehouse runtime from 14 to 15 hours to under 4 hours (we achieved 3 hours and 20 minutes in the end).

    Where we left Oracle behind, and did our research as in areas such as optimizing the flash cache location, storage, storage network, Oracle ASM, Oracle ASMLIB, Para-virtualization, kernel tuning, ESXi tuning, multiple SCSI adapters in VMs, CPU and Memory reservations, SGA reservations for production and non-production, storage pool vs RAID layouts, NUMA optimization, cores/processor (within Oracle Licensing guidelines) choices, Oracle EE vs SE-1 licensing, etc. Our only goal was to get better performance and balancing top performance of our business data warehouse process with the reality of licensing Oracle Database editions where the costs, as your article eluded to.

    It is easy to hand off your licensing management, but isn’t it more interesting to understand the right deployment to maximize the cost-center oriented IT department’s contributions to the firm’s productivity, responsiveness and performance?

    Thanks again for taking time to raise this issue as it’s how I found SHI’s Blog forums.

    I look forward to Deployment Best Practices articles as well as VMware, RedHat and Microsoft licensing discussions and management options in the future.


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