In early December 2019, Oracle officially announced that they have removed Spatial and Graph from the Oracle price list and made it available for free with all Oracle database editions. This seems like great news for Oracle customers, and previous ambiguity between Locator and Spatial & Graph will no longer be an issue. However, there are always potential challenges when vendors who sold a product for a premium transition to a free offering.
For background, the database Option Oracle Spatial and Graph is a product that allows for the storage and processing of geospatial objects inside the database. It includes an integrated set of functions and procedures that enable spatial data to be stored, accessed, and analyzed quickly and efficiently in an Oracle database.
Oracle Spatial and Graph used to be an add-on functionality for the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition and needed to be licensed separately (like other Options such as Partitioning or RAC). Removing a database Option from the price list is not common. What happens more often is that new database releases introduced new functionalities that needed to be licensed separately. An example of this was the introduction of the Multitenant Option with database release 12c. Removing Spatial and Graph is remarkable in that sense.
Spatial and Graph has always been a bit of a headache for Oracle, as it was notoriously difficult to detect true usage of this Database Option with the LMS scripts. To complicate matters, licenses of Oracle databases come with an included use right for Oracle Locator. Locator is a stripped-down version of Spatial and Graph and provides core features and services that are also available in Oracle Spatial and Graph. Usage of Locator could give false positives when audited with Oracle tools. Customers that had only used Locator would receive an audit report stating that they had used Spatial and Graph and needed to acquire licenses for this product. This fact may in some cases have forced customers who were not aware of this ambiguity to buy licenses for Spatial and Graph even though they had only used Locator. These customers would still be paying maintenance on these licenses every year to this day.
It will be interesting to see how Oracle will handle customers who already purchased licenses for Spatial and Graph. There will be situations where customers have recently bought licenses for this product, maybe following an audit. Will these customers receive a refund? Will Oracle allow customers to terminate these licenses and associated support agreement without a recalculation of the support stream? Or will they force customers to keep paying maintenance on these licenses going forward?
Time will tell, but potentially there will be some uncomfortable conversations with current Oracle Spatial and Graph customers in 2020. For all Oracle customers, that have purchased Spatial and Graph in the past, it makes sense to verify with your SAM team if you are still paying maintenance on these licenses. You may be able to save some money on maintenance in 2020 and that’s not something that happens often with Oracle.