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Oracle Licensing VMware and Oracle Core Factor Table

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

It happens all the time… organizations strive to remain in compliance with their on-premise Oracle software licensing agreements but when an Oracle LMS audit occurs, there is a high probability that unlicensed or insufficiently licensed software will be found during the course of the audit. Regrettably this situation most often arises due to customer misunderstandings or simple unawareness of the circumstances that can precipitate unintentional licensing.

Described here are some of the more common misconceptions and missteps that we have seen that have surprised customers with unintended and unwanted licensing and support costs.


Misunderstanding x86-64 Virtualization


Customers who utilize Oracle software with processor licensing and hosted on virtual machines managed by "soft partitioned" hypervisors including VMware, MicroSoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and even Oracle's own Oracle VM product should be aware of one essential rule:


Software must be licensed for each processor (core) on which it might potentially run.

Building a virtual machine guest and simply configuring it for 4 vCPUs (virtual CPUs = the maximum number of CPUs that will be used by the guest at any instant), does not mean that a software license based on 4 cores (typically 2 processors for x86-64 architectures) will suffice.


Instead, the total number of cores for all eligible servers on which the VM guest can run must be tabulated, converted to a processor count, and that number of processor licenses for each software product – and its licensed options – must be acquired.

For example, if a virtualization cluster consists of 3 servers, with each server having 24 cores, then the 72 cores result in 36 processors (after applying the Oracle specified 0.5 processor core factor for the x86-64 architecture), so 36 processor licenses would be required for software running across the entire cluster.


If you are able to "pin" the virtual machines hosting licensed software to only one of the servers then the number of processor licenses could be as few as 12 for the example just presented. Operational controls should be in place to ensure that licensed software never runs on a server (and its processors) for which it is not licensed.

A similar, and more flexible, technique for tailoring processor licensing is available with Oracle's Oracle VM virtualization solution, which has a capability to "pin" the vCPUs of a virtual machine to a specific physical CPU on a server, thus satisfying the essential rule stated above. However, if this step is taken, operational controls should be in place to ensure that those VMs hosting licensed software always run only on the server(s) licensed for that software.


In particular, this means that live migrations of the pinned VM guests may not be performed, and that leveling features such as Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) or Distributed Power Management (DPM) should not be used on servers where VM guests are CPU-pinned for licensing purposes. For more information from Oracle about hard and soft partitioning, see: https://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/vm/ovm-hardpart-168217.pdf.


Misunderstanding Standby and Disaster Recovery


There are widely held misconceptions about failover, standby and disaster recovery sites, including the following:


· Belief that they do not require licensing at all;

· Belief that a different licensing metric (i.e., Named User Plus) can be used to reduce costs, even though processor licensing is used at the primary site;

· Failure to license the same options that are licensed on the primary site.


Oracle explains this subject clearly here: http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/data-recovery-licensing-070587.pdf.

In summary, that document explains that the licensing metrics must match, plus the following:


· An unlicensed failover node in a cluster may be used up to 10 days in a calendar year;

· Standby environments using copying, synchronizing or mirroring must be fully licensed;

· Backup testing may be performed on an unlicensed system up to 4 times during a calendar year with up to 2 days per test.


Inadvertent use of OEM Management Packs


Software licenses for the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition 1 and Standard Edition 2 include a license for utilizing Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control (called Grid Control in earlier releases) with its basic features.


However, it is extremely easy within OEM Cloud Control to navigate to user interface pages that use licensable Management Packs. (This can be curtailed by the OEMCC super-administrator.)


Just as simple – and less well-understood – is the ability to use APIs, views and scripts that are part of these separately licensable Management Packs, even if there is no license for them!


For example, utilization of the script awrrpt.sql, found in $ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/admin actually uses components of the OEM Diagnostics Pack and records such usage in the database feature usage facility, which is surveyed during a license audit.


Oracle support customers can query the database concerning their usage of management packs, as well as other database options and features, by downloading and running the script found in this Oracle Support Article: https://support.oracle.com/CSP/main/article?cmd=show&type=NOT&id=1317265.1


Inadvertent use of the Oracle Advanced Compression Option


It is common for Oracle's Advanced Compression Option to appear unexpectedly in software license audits. One reason is because the specification "COMPRESS FOR OLTP" in DDL can easily be specified by a software developer, or it might be included in the DDL for a third-party software product (although the software vendor should advise you of this).


Another reason is because Advanced Compression is leveraged by a wide variety of utilities and features that accompany Oracle Database, including:


· RMAN specifying MEDIUM or HIGH compression for disk backups (specify BASIC compression instead) – also, note that use of Advanced Compression is included for the Oracle Database Backup Cloud Service.

· Data Pump export, using COMPRESSION=ALL or COMPRESSION=DATA_ONLY;

· SecureFile Compression and Deduplication;

· Data Guard Compression;

· Flashback Data Archive (formerly known as Total Recall)


Notice how quick and simple it is to incur a "licensing event" by merely specifying an option!


Inadvertent use of the Oracle Advanced Security Option


Most use cases for Advanced Security require detailed set-up using documentation that clearly states that an extra cost license is required. However, similarly to how Advanced Compression can be so easily utilized, specifying encryption as an option for either RMAN local disk backups or to Data Pump export also quietly crosses a line and results in the licensable usage of the Advanced Security Option. Note that Oracle Database Backup Cloud Service includes use of the Advanced Security Option without additional licensing.


Inadvertent use of the Oracle Partitioning Option


Most developers and DBAs are aware that partitioning in Oracle Enterprise Edition is an extra cost option, but it might be wise to emphasize this if Oracle Partitioning is not licensed. Be aware that some third-party software applications might create partitioned tables and indexes, and that would require that the Partitioning Option be licensed for the Oracle Database.


Exceeding Limits of Restricted Use Licensing and Special License Rights


Several Oracle products and features incorporate special/restricted license rights, such as the inclusion of a repository database. These include Recovery Manager (RMAN), Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control, Sharding Catalog, and Grid Infrastructure Management Repository.


These repository databases are expressly forbidden from being used or deployed for additional other purposes, irrespective of how insignificant they might be.

Also, these repositories generally must be single-instance databases; deploying RAC or Data Guard (except for a single standby for the Sharding Catalog) requires an Enterprise Edition license for all installations beyond the initial database or database instance.


Learn more about our Oracle Licensing Services »

Oracle Licensing VMware and Oracle Core Factor Table

Purchasing Oracle database, middleware, or application licenses can be overwhelming and confusing and even frustrating at times. An error in a license purchase can be very costly – requiring additional time and funds to repair. Let us help you—Our experienced Oracle license consultants will review your existing licenses and advise on the least expensive license strategy. We offer the following services that will identify under-utilized systems, and our expert consultants will work with your team to develop architectures to minimize license exposure. We can help change license purchasing to a productive and positive experience.

- Oracle Licensing VmWare - Oracle License Monitoring and Advisement

- Oracle License Assessments

- On-going Oracle Licensing Managed Services

- Oracle Audit Defense


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