OracleDiceswithoutOracleLogoIf you want to play truth or dare with the Oracle Sales Force now seems the time again! Back in Juli 2009 I had the first collisions  with the Oracle Sales force about licensing Oracle on top of VMware environments. Instead of trying to help their customers with their Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) strategy , they are spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt again.

Oracle is telling customers they have to pay for every host managed by a vCenter server. Even if you have a cluster defined with for instance 2 hosts managed by a vCenter server where more clusters reside.  The Oracle License and Services Agreement (OLSA) states  license that you have to pay for a license where Oracle is “installed and/or running.”  So you do not have to pay for every host managed by a vCenter server.

With the upcoming VMware vSphere 6 enhancements where you can move VMs across vCenter servers, In the eyes of Oracle, you should license all hosts managed by any vCenter server in your company. Going Hybrid cloud would be a complete mess IMHO, if it where true!!!.

My key findings about Oracle licensing in 2009,  unfortunately, still apply. Most customers are most willing to pay their Oracle licensing in a virtual VMware environment if the licensing is transparent, good, easy to understand and a fair licensing scheme. If you run into an unwilling Oracle Sales force play dare and consult with your attorney to go to court. In most cases Oracle drops the ball and gives in.

Disclaimer: VMGuru is in no way a legal firm and we do not give out legal advice. You should consult with your attorneys before signing any agreements with Oracle.

After some hard pushing and nudging with Oracle sales in 2009, I almost became a Oracle licensing guru. Not what I had in mind and was aiming for to be honest. While completing some business cases about virtualization for several customers, Oracle products became a hot issue again.

The Oracle Soap

I advised the customer to be careful about mentioning that they were striving for virtualizing the Oracle servers on VMware. The Oracle account manager could smell blood and would jump on the band wagon to let them pay for their attempt to make the infrastructure flexible and ready and supportive for a fast changing business. So the first thing what happened when the Oracle account manager heard the word virtualization was that he mentioned to the customer that it would cost at least 200K Oracle licensing costs even without knowing what the customer was pursuing.

Looks a lot like a soap opera, where Oracle account managers starts arguing with each other in a meeting where the customer is present. Then starts mentioning amounts of money from 200K to 1.4 Million, without even listening to the customer and starts helping the customer what they would need and advising them. Questions they get from the customer they can’t answer or start pointing at documents where you need rights to view them and need a masters degree in law to understand what they are talking about.

So the Oracle account manager scared the shit out of the customer for that moment, luckily though that this customer was prepared. When the customer called me he still wasn’t sure to be scared, angry or just disappointed with Oracle.  So I started my search through lots and lots and lots of legal documents from Oracle, from support documents to contracts from beginning till the end.

Sounds familiar? There is a way where you can beat Oracle with their own licensing jungle just read on.

Oracle licensing in depth

There are two types of Oracle licenses to distinguish namely: named user plus licenses or processor licenses. The Named User Plus metric is used in environments where users and/or devices can be easily identified and counted. The Processor metric is used in environments where users cannot be easily identified and counted.

Named User Plus license vs. Processor license

With named user plus licenses you have a unique user or device (batch script) which connects to a database instance on a server. As long as the target connected with in the user/processor matrix doesn’t supersede the available licenses, then you don’t have to buy additional licenses as long as the number of users/devices doesn’t grow.

“Named User Plus is the licencing metric for a single unique user.”

The Processor metric is mostly used in environments where the software users cannot be easily identified or counted, such as internet-based applications. The Processor metric is also used when it is more cost effective than Named User Plus licenses. All processors where the Oracle programs are installed and/or running must be licensed. This type of license is most common when going virtual with Oracle on a VMware platform.

Perpetual vs. Term License

Oracle offers both term and perpetual licenses for all its products. A perpetual license is a one-time license fee that allows continued use of the software program for as long as the customer complies with all terms of the license agreement. A term license is for a specific, limited period of time, during which the user is allowed to access and use the software. At the end of the term, the user must stop using the software or extend the term or purchase new licenses through an agreement with the software vendor. Oracle offers annual term licenses for all its products in 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 4-year or 5-year terms. Term licenses are a percentage of the perpetual license of a given Oracle product, and the term length (i.e., 1 to 5 years) a customer chooses, determines the percentage amount.

Oracle calculates the necessary licenses by the use of a user/processor matrix, by which there are different amounts of minimal number of user named licenses apply. The highest number of licenses will be calculate and need to be paid to Oracle.

How the matrix works

First check how many users/devices connect to the database (or Oracle application), so get the real amount. After that you have to check the minimal amount of licenses you will need for the server hardware where you want the database to run. For an Enterprise Database from Oracle the minimal amount of Named User Plus licenses you should calculate per physical processor is stated on 25. For standard its 5 Named User Plus licenses per physical processor.

Think you are done yet?

Unfortunately not, if the physical processors used in the servers contains multiple cores you have to calculate them for the license matrix.

“For the purposes of counting the number of processors which require licensing for AMD and Intel multicore chips, “n” cores shall be determined by multiplying the total number of cores by a core processor licensing factor of .50″

For example a Dell R710 rack server with two Intel quad core processors would be:

2×4 cores = 8 cores * 0.50 multiplier = 4 processors licenses or a minimum of 25 named user plus licenses per processor. So you will have to have 100 or more named user plus licenses or 4 processor licenses if you want to run Oracle Enterprise Edition Database on the Dell R710 server. So if you have identified you will have 80 users/devices who will use the database on that server, you will have to pay for a minimum of 100 Named User Plus licenses or 4 processor licenses.  Besides Oracle Database software Oracle also has application software like Enterprise Manager, Internet Application Server, Business Intelligence, Identity Management, Collaboration and Data Warehousing. For all these applications apply different licensing metrics and calculations.

Possible solution to save and/or make money while putting Oracle virtual

You can consolidate all Oracle Applications on 1 physical ESX server but installed into their own virtual machines and only have to pay for the underlying physical processors for all Oracle products you are going to use in virtual machines on top of that ESX server.

Myth: Some Oracle Advisors and some Oracle sales representatives try to let customers believe and pay for every virtual machine they run and for the underlying physical hardware also. For example they calculated 3 ESX servers in a VMware HA and DRS cluster with double Quad Core processors on top of that they calculated 21 virtual machines multiplied with 6 CPU licenses. So if the customer would like to pay for 6 x 21 = 126 CPU licenses x $ 47.000 = JACKPOT. (2 pCPU x 4 Cores x 0.5 multiplier = 2 Oracle CPU licenses x 3 ESX servers in a cluster = 6 CPU Licenses per Oracle product)

To calculate like this isn’t correct because Oracle doesn’t recognize virtual worlds besides their own Oracle VM (OVM) for licensing purposes.  You pay per named user or per physical server on an environment, where Oracle sees an environment  as a set of several things including multiple servers.

“Note : If the server is fully licensed by Processor then no additional licenses are required to install and/or run other environments that are configured on the same server.”

If you are going to use 1 ESX server to hold all your Oracle software without HA and DRS you are putting all eggs into 1 basket. You may use a 2 node VMware cluster with HA for failover but without DRS if you use Oracle Enterprise Edition Databases. After repairing the primary ESX server the virtual machines will have to be put back to that ESX server.

This solution is an alternative for customers who have 1 or 2 Oracle CPU licenses at the moment. You can put another ESX host into the cluster for HA only DON’T use DRS or you will have to pay Oracle appropriate licensing fees. You may run 10 days on other hardware before you have to pay Oracle additional licenses. If you only use 5 minutes on a different server a day the whole day is marked as 1 of the 10 you may use.

“Failover – In this type of recovery, nodes are configured in “cluster;” the first installed node acts as a primary node. If the primary node fails, one of the nodes in the cluster acts as the primary node. In this type of environment, Oracle permits licensed Oracle Database customers to run the Database on an unlicensed spare computer for up to a total of ten separate days in any given calendar year. Any other use requires the environment to be fully licensed. Same rule applies for Internet Application Server. Additionally, the same metric must be used when licensing the databases in a failover environment.”

A nice solution used with several customers

Make use of 2 ESX servers both with only 1 physical CPU containing 4 cores. Build a VMware HA & DRS cluster with those 2 ESX servers and you will have a full automatic failover and automatic resource scheduling so you can still perform hardware maintenance during day time. With limited Oracle licenses and money you can build a high availability solution for the

VMware supports the use of physical servers with only 1 pCPU if the server is mentioned on the VMware HCL list but to order it with only 1 pCPU instead of 2 pCPU’s. Only requirement there is that the single pCPU contains at least 4 cores.

VMware Single Processor Licensing Policy

Effective April 1, 2008

The VMware Single-Processor Licensing Policy clarifies the licensing of VMware ESX and VMware Infrastructure Suites (VI).

Customers may install VMware ESX and VI licenses on single-processor physical hosts that are included on VMware’s Hardware Compatibility List. This policy applies to servers with two sockets that are populated with a single-processor. Each processor may contain up to six cores. Please note that licenses for VMware ESX and VI are still sold in minimum increments of two processors. With this policy, VMware is clarifying that a two processor license may now be split and used on two single-processor physical hosts.

To install licenses in single-processor increments, you must use the Centralized License Server model for generating and managing VMware license files, as described in the Help page for Create License File – Select Licensing Model. With this licensing model, a single license file holding your licenses is stored on a license server. The license server manages an entire license pool, making licenses available to one or more hosts”

The Oracle environment will be like the picture below.

Oracle VMware Cluster

The Oracle environment consists of 2 pServers configured in a VMware HA & DRS cluster with both 1 pCPU with 4 cores.

For this solution you will have to pay 4 CPU licenses per Oracle product but you may use as many virtual machines with that Oracle product in this VMware cluster.

Did you know?

  • Oracle sales and Oracle support are totally different departments, where Oracle support boys and girls are great to work with you don’t want to deal with the Oracle sales force. Give Oracle support a call and they will help you, doesn’t matter if you run virtual or not. Some support personal do even speak up and say that supporting Oracle on a virtual platform is a lot easier because they know what hardware you are using, they can also import a virtual machine and check what is wrong.
  • That most of Oracle development is running on lots of VMware servers and not on Oracle VM.
  • Oracle products perform well on VMware. Make sure you tune the virtual machine correct with memory management prior to Oracle 10.2.
  • Below almost every document from Oracle this line is added: “This document is for educational purposes only and provides guidelines regarding Oracle’s policies in effect as of <date>, <year>.  It may not be incorporated into any contract and does not constitute a contract or a commitment to any specific terms. Policies and this document are subject to change without notice.”
  • The customer is always the one that must understand the Oracle licensing and must have the correct number of licenses.
  • That almost every licensing Oracle document mentioned the following: “Thank you. We appreciate your business.”  They sure like many but I think its time to call them out on their ridiculous licensing terms and the way they do business. SO give them a call and start asking for advice and support for Oracle products on virtual platforms.

Tips and tricks

  • If you need to expand or change your Oracle licensing and don’t want to pay the jackpot wait till quarter ending, because you can get up to 48% rebate on your licensing. Almost too easy when the sales representative is below his or her target for that quarter.
  • Go virtual when you have lots of servers running Oracle products, but do calculate what costs and revenue will be.
  • Check if you really need the Oracle Enterprise Database version or can run with the Standard version.
  • Use VMware HA, DRS and VMotion instead and Oracle AMS instead of Oracle RAC for high availability solutions.
  • Dual core CPU’s are harder and harder to come by, so plan for the future what you are going to do with your Oracle licenses.

Going virtual might be cheaper or check other solutions like IBM DB2 or Microsoft’s SQL server. Microsoft went from the bad guy on the block to a very supportive and nice Application developer with proper and clear licensing format for virtual worlds. I wrote a blog about licensing SQL 2012, you can find it here.