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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Cortale

Top 5 Oracle Licensing Mistakes That Could be Costing You

Oracle’s suite of software and IT solutions are the backbone for many organizations, often encompassing many different departments and decision makers. Because of the breadth and complexity of Oracle’s solutions, its licensing is quite complicated.

In fact, many companies lose money due to licensing problems—either they’re paying for more than they need, or they face penalties for licensing noncompliance. In this blog, we’re going to highlight five Oracle licensing mistakes that could be costing your company millions of dollars.

1. Not licensing development

Many organizations and IT leaders believe that development does not need to be licensed, or that it is covered under the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) licensing. However, any activity or project related to a deployed application requires licensing. Examine your OTN license to evaluate if all your development activities are currently covered. Some examples of activities that would not fall under your OTN and would need additional licensing include using Oracle for:

  • Internal data processing

  • Any commercial or production purposes

  • Third-party training, or otherwise making Oracle programs available to any third party

2. Not properly licensing High Availability/Disaster Recovery

Another common and costly Oracle licensing mistake is improper licensing for High Availability or Disaster Recovery databases. All Oracle customers dislike paying for licenses they barely use, however according to Oracle licensing policies all standby databases must be licensed to match the production instance. For instance, if you are licensing Processor licenses in production, you will need to license Processor licenses in DR, and program options must match.

3. Not adhering to hard partitioning policies

Like many of Oracle’s licensing requirements and policies, there is widespread uncertainty regarding how Oracle defines a hard partition. Oracle’s definition is as follows: “Hard partitioning refers to physically segmenting a server, by separating one large server into distinct smaller systems.” Each of those segmented systems would be physically independent and self-contained—and would require individual licenses. Some accepted hard partitioning examples include Physical Domains, Solaris Zones, IBM’s LPAR, IBM’s Micro-Partitions and vPar. There are more, however ALL approved hard partitioning technologies must have a capped or a maximum number of cores/processors for the given partition.

Soft partitioning can NOT be used as means to reduce license count and includes software such as Solaris 9 Resource Containers, AIX Workload Manager, HP Process Resource Manager, Affinity Management, Oracle VM and most importantly VMware. VMware is not an accepted form of hard partitioning, no matter what VMware may have told you or you have read. Now Oracle may make concessions on a case by case basis, but you don’t want to start that conversation with Oracle spread across 300 servers in a VMware farm!

4. Mixing and matching metrics

Under Oracle licensing requirements, organizations may not apply different metrics to the same product within a particular partition, server or standby system. For example, within the same server, customers cannot license the database as “Processor” and the management pack as “Named User Plus.” Licenses within the same server must match.

5. Using database options without paying

This common misstep is usually done unintentionally, but can be costly during a compliance review. Users often deploy database options that require additional licensing without even knowing it, perhaps via a command line prompt activated by a DBA or simply using a basic functionality of the database, such as partitioning, and not realizing this comes with a cost. It’s critical to have a full understanding of what does and doesn’t need to be licensed, as well as undergoing regular licensing self-audits to ensure compliance.

Oracle licensing requirements are extremely complex, and difficult for an organization to manage and monitor internally. However, without monitoring compliance and understanding all aspects of current Oracle licensing policies, companies leave themselves vulnerable to millions of dollars in penalties.

At Olitech, we perform annual Oracle license reviews as well as provide on-going expertise to our clients to ensure continued compliance and maximize the most return on their Oracle investments. Please contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation and let us share with you how we have helped clients reduce costs and increase their Oracle ROIs!


By Melissa Cortale

Founder & President, Olitech Solutions

Melissa Cortale is an Oracle licensing expert and a frequent speaker at industry conferences and trade shows. Most recently at IBSMA’s June SAM Summit she shared her expertise in breakout sessions including: Making sense of Oracle's most complex licensing terms and Managing Oracle for an Enterprise. In addition, Melissa has taught Oracle License Management courses across the US and abroad.

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