Common Oracle Software Licensing Issues – Part I

John Mattinson, Operations Director, Certero
Originally posted in November 2016, revised in December 2019.

What are the main Oracle software licensing issues and challenges?

Due to the complex nature of the Oracle environment and licensing terms it is very easy to unwittingly find yourself non-compliant and liable for additional license costs as well as potential fines. In the first of 2 blog articles, Certero will outline some of the most common reasons why your Oracle licensing is likely to become non-compliant.


1) Misunderstanding Oracle licensing terminology and agreements

Not all Oracle licensing issues are technical. Misunderstanding Oracle licensing terminology and agreements can be common and stems from the complexity of the Oracle environment. Oracle licensing agreements are regularly tailored for individual customers. While this can provide flexibility at the outset, it can cause problems going forward, as changes to your IT estate can unwittingly leave you in licensing compliance breach.

Another recurring area of misunderstanding concerns the interpretation of cores and processors. It is tempting to consider these two as the same, but they are not. A processor can consist of one or more cores and as you need to multiply the total number of cores of the processor by a core processor licensing factor (specified on the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table) to calculate the number of licenses you require for Oracle technology products, making a mistake here can prove very costly.

A final area concerns the many different types of Oracle license are available for the different Oracle products. We have mentioned the major current ones in the previous section, but added to this are a large number of types, that although no longer available, your organization could still be using. Confusion often arises over the treatment of these license types with many organizations making the mistake of treating them all the same and using the wrong metric to measure usage.

Understanding the complexity of Oracle licensing can be the first step to achieving Oracle licensing optimization.


2) Single user has multiple user accounts

One of the Oracle technology product’s main licensing types is Named User Plus. This means that for every user, of say a database, you must have a license. So far, so good, but problems can easily arise when the same user accesses a different Oracle database. Although their existing license already covers them for this, without the right processes in place, it is all too easy for another license to be allocated to them.

These multiple user accounts consume licenses that could be utilized by another member of staff and so ultimately can leave you non-compliant. All these duplicates need to be removed to prevent unnecessary license utilization.


3) Lack of centralized inventory

Due to the complexity of the Oracle environment and the nature of modern global IT infrastructures, many organizations do not know which products they have installed. Even where they do, visibility of which edition or version is being used is not apparent. As there is a huge cost difference between certain editions, this lack of knowledge can be very costly.

Many Oracle options are enabled by default, even if you are not licensed for them. So, inadvertently using an option will activate it for Oracle licensing purposes and will immediately leave you non-compliant.

If you have any questions about Oracle software licensing please get in touch.

Continue finding out about the common Oracle licensing issues in Part 2.

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