Oracle Database License Optimization – Expert Answers to Your Questions

Snow Software has delivered Oracle database spend management since the launch of Snow Oracle Management Option, and with its recent enhancements we invited Rasmus Larsson, Senior Enterprise SAM Consultant at Snow to answer your questions about how to manage and optimize Oracle spend.

Most Oracle database knowledge and expertise resides with Oracle DBAs, so when it comes time to answer an audit letter or to simply manage license purchases and renewals, a lack of visibility and control makes the SAM manager’s job extraordinarily difficult. Audit findings can be equal to or greater than your current Oracle spend. And with Oracle budgets in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, even a small number of errors in an audit finding can result in a severe financial penalty. 

Q: What makes Oracle so difficult to track?

A: There are a number of contributing factors. One of the most common is that virtual machines keep getting spun up all the time and software is being installed without consideration of licensing implications. At the same time, IT gets stuck explaining some of the problems that may occur from deployments that are installed in the wrong place. Oracle makes it easy to download its software. This, in combination with not requiring a license key, means that it is very easy to over deploy and improperly deploy.


Q: How does virtualization complicate compliance?

A: Managing Oracle licensing in virtualization scenarios is very complex and varies depending on the virtualization technology used. As an example, VMware licensing implications differ based on version. However, as with all Oracle licensing, what applies to each individual scenario varies based upon each contractual agreement.

For a detailed example of this see Gotcha #14 in this Oracle blog series – which outlines how the same deployment can vary tremendously in terms of licensing through the evolution of three versions of VMware.


Q: How often does Oracle change their licensing rules?

A: Oracle has modified their licensing terms several times, to account for changes in how processors are calculated for virtualization and cloud. One example is how they calculate processor cores – there was a time when they were charged at a 1:1 ratio, then it changed to a lower rate. In virtualized or partitioned environments, licensing is much more complicated, be careful to understand how you are deployed, how it affects your licensing and compliance and review it regularly for changes.


Q: What other factors could affect Oracle compliance?

A: Two things really – there is variation between policies and contracts in different countries, so a ‘single source of truth’ is difficult to define; and it is important to review your contracts and policies to understand what implications there are for your licensing. This brings to light that what constitutes compliance is not always clear. Be sure to have a really detailed understanding and view of your usage and deployment. This will help to mitigate risks of unplanned costs in the event of an audit.

new benefits provided


Q: Tell me about the new solutions with Snow’s Oracle Management Option, let’s start with the report “Devices have been discovered but not inventoried”?

A: It may sound obvious, but it’s more than just finding that a device has been discovered – it’s about getting visibility into the configuration and deployment. This is critical to understand in order to license it correctly.


Q: Next in the Recommendation tab is the report “Computers are not inventoried with Oracle inventory”, what is the risk here?

A: This highlights that you have an unknown risk. You may have an Oracle database there, but you don’t have details on Oracle inventory. You should install Oracle Management Option onto those databases to get detailed visibility to the product, version and deployment methodology.


Q: What does the report “Previously inventoried computers are no longer reporting in” highlight for me?

A: This is your warning that highlights “something is not like it used to be”. We have a computer where we have Oracle Management Option or an Oracle database installed, and for some reason, it is no longer reporting in. There could be various reasons, but it’s still a bit of a risk because if you don’t have current inventory, something may have happened in the environment that may impact your licensing. Why is it no longer reporting in? Is it because it lost connectivity, or has it been decommissioned? Or is there another reason?  


Q: Last, but not least, we have the report “Oracle databases have been discovered in soft partition environments”?

A: This refers to the risks with virtualization, let’s use a real-world example – Oracle doesn’t license on the top level of what you have installed on different databases, they measure hardware. Hardware, in a soft partitioned environment equals multiple processors to Oracle, regardless of actual utilization.


Q: This is great information on the overall risks with Oracle licensing and the new solutions that Snow brings to customers – any final thoughts?

A: There are a lot of risks and challenges due to a complex world of licensing with Oracle, and a lot of information that is required to calculate your effective license position. This is what Snow’s Oracle Management Option provides – the visibility and detail you need to determine this.


Contact us today to learn how Snow can help you manage and optimize your Oracle, and check out at Snow’s e-book: 5 Ways to Cut Spending on Oracle Databases, which describes five cost-saving initiatives for Oracle products. By applying all these initiatives, you can save up to 30% on your Oracle database licensing costs.