Oracle Licensing : It’s Your Responsibility to Comply

This little moan was inspired by some posts by Kevin Closson.

Kevin is awesome (I love you Kevin!), but I don’t happen to agree with him in this specific case*. Having said that, I do understand where he is coming from.

Earlier in the year my current employer had an Oracle license audit, which I wrote about here. I must admit I was quite nervous going into it. Oracle licensing is a tricky business and Oracle tend to ship a lot of functionality out-of-the-box, so it is easy for people to use things “by accident”. Having said that, Oracle do provide tools (DBMS_FEATURE_USAGE_STATISTICS) and documentation (Feature Availability by Edition) to help you keep track of things. You can also speak to Oracle License Management Services.

So now to the point of this moan and the title of this post. In my opinion, a DBA should have a basic awareness of licensing. I’m not talking about a profound knowledge of the licensing manual. I just mean a rough idea about database editions and options and how to find out what options you are using.

I think there are two distinct issues here:

  1. Some database options have an on/off switch and are turned off by default (like the In-Memory Column Store). If your DBA turns one of these on “by accident”, they should be fired. They are an idiot. Simple as that!
  2. Other database options are turned on by default, or even mandatory, but you are not breaking your licensing unless you use them. It’s very easy for a DBA or developer to copy something from a website or a MOS note and accidentally breach the license agreement. I have a lot of sympathy for people who fall into this trap. Anyone who was around in the early 10g days, when AWR, ADDM and ASH were first introduced, will remember the massive stink that caused. Click on the wrong page in EM or query the wrong DBA view and you’re in trouble. This was just plain wrong!

Anyway, enough of this moaning. I would be interested to know other people’s opinions though!



* So it turns out Kevin was correct in so far as the feature does get tracked as being used, but this is down to a bug. Presumably when that bug gets patched it will flush this usage and everything will be back to normal.

Oracle Licensing…

We’re trying to figure out what Oracle licenses we have to buy to add another node into an application server cluster. Sounds easy doesn’t it!

Trouble is, we need to load an old version of the application server, and the whole product set has been renamed and re-jigged since this version of the application server was released. The components we’re using sound like a match for the cheaper Java Edition, but that didn’t exist when we bought the product originally, so we are really not sure if we can get away with this.

We contacted sales yesterday, and the lady we spoke to was very pleasant, but was unable to confirm what we need to do. We’re now waiting for an account manager to investigate it and make a decision.

This just confirms to me that Oracle’s licensing is a total mess, and repeatedly renaming their product ranges along with the components they include only serve to exacerbate the problem.