Oracle is a key software publisher in the datacentre and for many organizations represents a large proportion of their software spend and an essential part of their IT infrastructure.
Taking the right approach to Oracle licensing is vital; a poorly managed estate can expose a company to significant risk of audit and financial exposure. An audit from Oracle or any other software publisher is time consuming, distracts IT staff from the delivery of services and key projects and worst of all can results in unbudgeted costs.
The usual reconciliation of installs versus purchase history does not apply with Oracle licensing – a different approach is required.
Although Oracle is an acquisitive company and owns a vast array of different software products in its portfolio such as PeopleSoft, Siebel and Sun; Oracle database licensing still remains the most difficult to manage and carries the most risk of audit and exposure.
There are three significant differences between managing Oracle database licensing and other traditional software license programs:
1) Oracle is usually difficult to find in large company networks compared to traditional executable files types used to identify other software titles. Special scripts or tools are required to discover instances of Oracle databases.
2) The hardware specification and power of the hardware of the machine being used to run the Oracle database is an important factor in how licensing is calculated.
3) How the Oracle database is configured is also important. In particular what options and packs have been switched on to enhance the Oracle database.
Missing these configurations can have an immediate impact on costs. The same database could have vastly different license costs depending on the hardware being used to host it or the options and packs utilized.
Organizations should also be careful when managing Oracle databases in virtual environments. For example Oracle do not recognize soft partitions in VMware environments. Oracle databases are licensed based on what hardware they ‘might’ have access to, rather than any soft partition. More details on Oracle Database licensing and partitioning can be found on the Oracle License Management Services (LMS) website.
When first starting to explore Oracle License Management it is useful to begin with the Oracle Server Worksheet. The data required to populate this sheet, used by Oracle to accept deployment declarations from clients, will demonstrate the key data fields required to manage Oracle. Key fields include:
As well as the technical configuration details it is also useful to keep a record of who owns the database within the business and what purpose it serves, this can speed up the reconciliation process in the future and help you better understand the use of Oracle within the IT infrastructure and changes likely in the future.