Common Oracle software licensing issues – II

21 Nov 2016 | Datacentre

In the second of our 2 articles on common Oracle software licensing issues we look at: tracking usage, indirect access, virtualization and the OSW report

Oracle software licensing – tracking usage

Being able to track the usage of your installed software is vital in ensuring that you remain compliant. From accurately knowing the number of Named users who are actually using the software, through to correctly measuring the right metrics, you need to be aware of what is going on across your IT estate.

Having access to this type of detailed information will enable you to show Oracle, at the time of an audit, that you know how their software is being used by your organization and be able to defend against the ‘false positives’ that auditing scripts can sometimes produce.

A further benefit of this information, is that you will be able to see which named users are actually using the software, and if they are not (say for example if they have left or changed roles) you will be able to recycle their license for use by somebody else. This license re-harvesting can help save you money going forward by not needing to buy as many licenses.

Indirect access

One area where many organizations are increasingly finding themselves non-compliant is indirect access. This is with where a non-Oracle application accesses an Oracle database or data, typically through a single user account.

In many cases, these users will need a valid Named user license to ensure the company remains compliant. You need to be able to identify and manage any instances of indirect access to help prevent potential problems at the time of a true-up/audit.


Virtualization offers a great way to cut costs but is fraught with potential Oracle software licensing issues that could incur expense greater than the original savings. This is due to Oracle’s very tight definition as to what it recognizes as virtualization.

Oracle focus on partitioning and state that there are “… several hardware and software virtualization technologies available that deliver partitioning…” In the world according to Oracle there are 2 types of partitioning – hard and soft.

Soft partitioning divides the OS using OS resource managers. Oracle explicitly states that “… soft partitioning … is not permitted as a means to determine or limit the number of software licenses required for any given server or cluster of servers.”

What does this mean exactly? Well, if you implemented, say VMware, on a cluster and you run Oracle on any machine in that cluster, you will need to license every single machine in the cluster – not just the server it is installed on.

As you can imagine, this will be pretty expensive and quickly eradicate the virtualization savings. We have come across many sites who have made just this mistake and usually it is only picked up during an audit leading to a large true-up costs and typically fines.

Hard partitioning is where a single server is separated physically into “distinct” smaller systems acting as a physical, independent and self-contained servers.

Oracle has specifically identified and approved a number of these technologies that it recognizes for licensing purposes:

  • Physical Domains – also known as PDomains, Dynamic Domains or Dynamic System Domains
  • Solaris Zones – also known as Solaris containers, capped zones/containers only
  • IBM LPAR – plus DLPAR with AIX 5.2
  • IBM Micro-partitions – capped partitions only
  • vPAR
  • nPAR
  • Integrity virtual machine – capped partitions only
  • Secure resource partitions – capped partitions only
  • Fujitsu PPAR

Oracle VM Server can also be used, but the rules for this are precise and complex and should be investigated thoroughly before implementation.

Bearing all these facts in mind, it is no wonder that virtualization is one of the key reasons organizations become non-compliant.

Creating an OSW report

The Oracle Server Worksheet (OSW) is the report that you have to submit to LMS that details:

  • Which Oracle products you have installed
  • What license metric is applied to each
  • The infrastructure the licenses are assigned to

The OSW is then sent to Oracle LMS who will compare it the licenses you have bought to see if there is any shortfall.

Obviously creating the OSW can be a time-consuming and complex task depending on how you create it and state of your Oracle software installations. But, you need accurate and up-to-date data to ensure you are not in a weak position when you come to negotiate with LMS about any claimed shortfall in licenses.

One way this process can be speeded up is to utilize an automated tool that can discover and inventory all your Oracle software as well as monitoring and reporting on all its usage over a 12 month period.

Take a look at AssetStudio for Oracle to see how you can begin to manage your Oracle licenses