A Quick Guide to Oracle Software Licensing

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A Quick Guide to Oracle Software Licensing


Unlike most of its competitors, Oracle software licensing is pretty straightforward and uncomplicated.

And rightly so, because most businesses have access to a lot of technology they could use, and they operate in increasingly changing market conditions.  So rather than be seen as complex and treacherous, Oracle opted to give its customers what they want: simple, transparent and flexible pricing and licensing options.

Oracle has prepared a software investment guide for its customers.  This guide fully explains what their license costs would be.  But to make it easier for you, read on.

Oracle has thousands of products in the market, but these may be categorized into four layers:

1.      Infrastructure
2.      Database
3.      Middleware
4.      Applications

Each of these layers has its own licensing and pricing rules.

User-based licensing

What does this mean?  You pay Oracle for the number of devices or users that are allowed to access or use the software.  You would also need to make sure that you meet the minimum requirement for every processor.

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The most important metric to consider in user-based licensing is the named user.  The named user is actually the one authorized by the business to use the software.  The named user can be a contractor, a customer or employees.  Or it could be devices, sensors and other non-human elements.  So if you have devices that access the software, they would need to be licensed as named users as well.

User-based licensing does not consider how actively the software is used.  You could use it heavily or you could not use it for a year or two, and you will still need to pay for the license.

The license is good for that named user for a specific software or product. You can, therefore, install the software on several machines or servers for the same individual without having to buy another license.

Box-based licensing

Then there is box-based licensing.

Box-based licensing is the second most popular licensing metric, next only to named user licensing for Oracle.  In fact, almost all products and software that you can license using a named user license can be licensed this way.

In processor licensing, you need to have your entire cluster of machines license before you install Oracle products.  This is true even for your remote mirroring or standby systems.

You do not need to license failover systems, though, if these machines operate less than 10 non-consecutive days in a year.

You would also need to multiply the number of cores that you have with a licensing factor provided by Oracle.  To know how to do this, check out http://oracle.com/contracts.

Further, you need to make sure servers that are soft partitioned would be licensed entirely.  In contrast, for servers that are hard partitioned, only those partitions with the Oracle software would need licensing.

And oh, if for some reason you need to install Oracle on a desktop, you would need to get either a user based or box based license for this as Oracle does not provide a separate licensing option for desktops.  This is true even for Oracle Database Standard Edition or Discoverer Desktop Edition.


Another layer of complexity with Oracle comes from support.  Even with a lifetime license, you would need to pay for the yearly support fee so that you could call Oracle for any technical or product issues.  A big gray area is when a new release comes.  With new features and functionality in the new release, remember that you may or may not be licensed to use it, depending on what your support agreement says.

So if you need more help in understanding your Oracle licensing, or if you are trying to find out if you are under- or over-licensed, call Four Cornerstone today! We offer Oracle software licensing services.

Photo courtesy of Oracle.

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