Forty years after its first release, Oracle Database continues to be one of the most popular database systems. Organizations around the world recognize the benefits and value it offers, and its speed and ease of use set it apart.
Despite its benefits, most organizations struggle to understand Oracle’s licensing rules, complex contracts, and changing conditions. This lack of understanding makes managing Oracle licenses extremely challenging and exposes your organization to operational, financial and legal risks.
To help you stay on top of your Oracle Database software, you must understand the risks involved. Here are the ten most common Oracle Database compliance issues.
1. Misunderstanding license minimums
Every person accessing Oracle Database software typically requires a “Named User Plus license”. But independent of the actual number of individuals that use this software, Oracle requires a minimum number of Named User Plus licenses for the different database programs installed or used. This minimum is different for every Oracle Database program, changes regularly, differs for each version, and is calculated in different ways. Determining this minimum is not simple, but it’s essential to correctly manage and monitor the required number of Oracle Database software licenses.
2. Miscounting processors
Most organizations can count how many of their servers and cores are running Oracle. The struggle comes with bridging the gap between counting cores and correctly applying Oracle licensing rules to determine the actual number of licenses needed. The challenge is compounded when virtualization products and cloud services are added to the mix. A small miscalculation can lead to a shortage of licenses and unforeseen costs.
3. Server virtualization with VMware
Oracle does not recognize VMware internal software controls as a valid method to reduce the number of Oracle licenses. Depending on the VMware version, if Oracle software is installed on one server, then it must be licensed for all other servers in the configuration even if Oracle is not actually used on the other servers. Oracle maintains that it has not changed its licensing policy on VMware but that the evolving capability of the Vmotion functionality in newer versions of Vsphere is the crux of the different licensing requirements for the different Vsphere versions. The most recent versions require Oracle licenses for all physical cores in all physical servers that are part of the Vmware farm. Non-compliance can generate a penalty in the millions of dollars for a large enterprise. Needed is full visibility on the location of deployed Oracle software and understanding of the underlying virtual server architecture.
4. Server virtualization with Oracle VM
Oracle encourages the use of its own virtualization software, Oracle VM. This technology limits the number of licensable ‘cores’, but many organizations fail to remember that “peak use” (high-watermark) must be licensed.
5. Less control through cloud computing and outsourcing
More and more companies choose to outsource their hardware infrastructure to specialized third parties. Despite the outsourcer installing the software, the end user remains responsible and liable for the correct licensing of the Oracle software. Losing control of the number of licenses is easy. The outsourcing company may conﬁgure redundancy solutions to ensure your software has a maximum uptime or chose the hardware infrastructure that installs or runs the software on multiple machines. Such results in noncompliance issues that you are solely responsible for, not the outsourcer.
6. Incomplete overview of installations
Oracle database software programs must be licensed once the software is installed, even if the software is not being used. But many organizations have an incomplete or inaccurate overview of these Installations, usually because they lack the proper software inventory tooling and procedures. If you don’t know how many installations you have, you can’t manage and control usage.
7. Various software configuration options
When installing Oracle Database, you have the option to install different components and products including various Database Options and Management Packs. Inadvertently deploying options and packs not included in your license is easy to do. For example, Oracle’s Advanced Compression product has multiple features. Two of which are included for free in your Database purchase. However, several other features are not included and must also be licensed if used. Any inadvertent usage of those additional features will trigger a licensing event.
8. Internal vs. external access
The standard Oracle license agreement allows the use of Oracle programs for internal business purposes only. These licenses cannot be used by partners or any other outside entity unless your arrangement is addressed explicitly with customized contract language. Also, use of Oracle licenses to open commercial applications to third-party access requires special hosting licenses.
9. Use by another legal entity
The purchase of an Oracle Database license is for the sole use of a pre-registered legal entity (or entity list). Some Oracle contracts make allowances with specific limitations on how to use Oracle licenses after a merger, acquisition, or divestiture. However, M&A activity gets the attention of the Oracle LMS audit team because it is typically a compliance hotspot and license revenue opportunity for Oracle.
10. Access to Oracle Database
Actual usage of Oracle Database software is granted to an individual authorized by you to use the programs which are installed on a single server or multiple servers, regardless of whether the individual is actively using the programs at any given time. Even if you’ve created an account for a thousand people and only fifty people use it, you’ll still need a thousand licenses. This means you need to pay close attention to who is accessing the software. Additionally, you may need a separate license not only for people but also for devices that directly or indirectly access the database. It’s also important to regularly check who needs access and who doesn’t. This will help you not only reduce your risk but also save you money.
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