Licensing the Oracle way
Grey Matter’s SAMwise has become an Oracle Licence Management Services (LMS) Partner. Paul Cooper explains.
HardCopy Issue: 39 | Found In: Licensing | Published: 01/02/2008 | Last Revision: 06/07/2010
Oracle’s audit activities have stepped up recently and the company is increasingly using partners to ensure correct licensing amongst its customers. SAMwise has added another string to its bow by becoming an Oracle LMS Partner to perform Oracle licence reviews and help customers understand the complexity of Oracle licensing and support.
SAMwise has completed over 50 licence reviews on behalf of software vendors, strategic partners and Grey Matter customers. SAMwise found that all the companies audited clearly had the intention of being licence compliant but, more often than not, mistakes had been made and licence compliance had been compromised. SAMwise is now finding their Oracle reviews to be no different.
Common Oracle licensing issues
• Paying for support on products no longer in use
• Under licensing products not believed to be in use, such as. Partitioning
• Upgrading servers to multi-core without updating the Oracle licence
• Complex licensing rules requiring expert knowledge
• Disaster recovery (backup, failover, standby)
• Multiple support contracts
An Oracle Licence Agreement (OLA) is similar to the End-User Licence Agreement (EULA) used by Microsoft and other vendors in that the agreement contains the customer’s usage rights. The difference is that an Oracle Licence Agreement can be customised to the individual customer.
It is easy to violate these rights as companies often fail to consult their Oracle Licence Agreement before making fundamental changes to their database, such as adding partitioning or upgrading the server it resides on. Even when standard installations are performed, advanced features can be setup which customers have not realised are chargeable.
Oracle licensing is constantly changing and it is common for a company to hold historic licence types such as Concurrent Device, Named User, Named User Single-Server, Named User Multi-Server, Per Core CPU and Universal Power Units, many of which cannot be purchased anymore. Many customers now find themselves in the complex position of migrating their licences to newer but more expensive models. As a business grows and user populations vary, what seems an easy task such as adding additional users becomes ever more onerous.
Oracle databases are currently licensed on either a named user or per processor basis. Named users are human and non-human operated devices. In a multiplexing or multi-tier environment, all users at the front-end must be licensed. However a named user licence may cover multiple servers. Processor licences are required if the number of users cannot be determined (for example, if the database is being accessed via the Internet).
Processor licences may be more cost effective than named user licences if the end user population is high.
If Oracle suspects a customer of not being compliant they have the right to investigate by way of an audit. If they identify a violation they will allow the company concerned just 30 days to obtain the appropriate licences. If the problem is still not resolved Oracle can:
• Charge technical support fees for the period of unlicensed use of the software
• Suspend technical support service and software updates
• Revoke the right to use their software.
The Oracle Licence Management Services (LMS) Group, of which SAMwise is now a member, is the only Oracle group authorised to review a customer’s Oracle Licence Compliance. On day one SAMwise will gain an understanding of a customer’s current architecture, request an Oracle Licence Statement and arrange a convenient time for an onsite visit.
During the onsite visit SAMwise will configure and deploy an Oracle audit tool to discover an organisation’s actual Oracle usage and to create an Actual Licence Position (ALP). An ALP is a comparison of what is installed versus what is licensed. SAMwise will then look to save an organisation money by reviewing its support agreements to ensure it is not paying for support of software no longer in use. SAMwise act as an independent intermediary between Oracle customers and the Oracle Licensing Team to ensure that customers are advised correctly throughout the audit process. So SAMwise deliverables include:
• An Actual Licence Position
• Licence Optimisation conclusions
• Migration options
• Support cost analysis
• An Oracle Certified Audit statement.
It is our experience that customers are still very reactive when it comes to initiating an audit. For the most part companies see software licensing as a complexity that has no benefit to their daily activities and request an audit as a result of a demand from a software vendor investigating their compliance. In our view ‘doing nothing’ or adopting a wait and see approach is a much higher risk than creating a business case for optimising a licence position.
If your company does not have a dedicated resource for SAM or is unsure of its Oracle licensing and usage then we suggest you get in touch with SAMwise as soon as possible. SAMwise can give you an independent review of your licensing position and then work with you and Oracle to enable you to implement best practices in software asset management.