Oracle License Compliance in 5 questions

Oracle Software Insights

5 Tips to Ensure Oracle License Compliance

How would you feel if a police officer knocked on your door with a warrant to search the premises? The answer to that question probably depends on how well you know what is inside your house. If you are on top of everything in the house and aware of who is doing what, chances are you will feel pretty confident about the search. But if you haven’t been paying attention, you might be pretty nervous.

By using Oracle products, you have already agreed to let Oracle search your house when you signed the License Agreement. This is called an audit and this blog will provide you with a list of questions you need to ask yourself so that you can feel confident with your compliance with Oracle. In addition to letting you sleep easy, knowing the answer to these questions could save you quite a bit of money even if you never receive that knock on the door in the form of an official audit letter from Oracle.

1. What Oracle licenses do you own?

This seems like a simple question but Oracle licenses aren’t like other products that you can touch and feel. Your accounting department should have a record of any past purchases and Oracle keeps a record as well. You should be paying support for all of your licenses on an annual basis, and those support costs are a good clue to confirm at least some of your license purchases. Connecting with an Oracle partner who can use scanning software to detect the presence of Oracle downloads is another option that can answer this question.

2. What Oracle licenses should you own?

Again, answering this question is not as straight forward as going to the supply closet and counting the staplers. Anyone in your organization can download Oracle products even if they don’t understand the licensing implications of their actions. Determining what software should be licensed and with what types of licenses is a complicated undertaking because licensing requirements are impacted by hardware details like the number of processors on a server, the number of users accessing the database, how databases are virtualized, and the required minimums provided by Oracle. Oracle changes their license requirements often without announcing these changes to the customer.

Answering this question requires a holistic examination of your IT environment and should include an updating of your download policies to ensure your organization has control over what Oracle products are being used. Oracle partners can eliminate any confusion you may have with Oracle’s policies and contracts by providing you with a detailed explanation and answers to all of your questions.

3. What is the difference between the Oracle licenses you own and the Oracle licenses you should own?

Once you have answered questions one and two you are in a good position to determine if you are in compliance with Oracle’s licensing requirements. If you are audited, it is because Oracle suspects your organization is using products it hasn’t paid for. If you know what you are using, you know what you paid for, and there are no gaps in between, you are in good shape. If you don’t know what you are using and you are unsure of the licenses you own, call an Oracle partner.

An Oracle partner can analyze your environment to determine your current and future software license needs and provide suggestions that ensure your software portfolio is optimized for what you need to grow your business while staying compliant.

4. Are you overpaying for or under-utilizing the licenses you currently own?

A common finding from doing an internal check on the licenses a company owns is that the business owns more licenses than it needs. Often times, with a little re-architecting, licensing needs can be reduced below the number of owned licenses. In these cases, getting ahead of an Oracle audit can be a catalyst for cost savings in the form of reduced support costs. Oracle support, which is required for support patches and upgrades, costs about 22% of the total cost of the licenses each year. The business has the option to save money by desupporting (or ceasing the support of) the licenses that are underused. Alternatively, the business can start repurposing those licenses on servers in new development, test, or production environments.

Oracle partners can elevate your long-term savings. An Oracle partner like Guardian Eagle will assist you in consolidating your environment in order to ensure you are fully utilizing your licenses and, as a result, cut your annual costs.

5. When should you check to see if you have the right number of licenses?

  • Before you start using new Oracle products
  • Whenever you make a hardware change or migrate a database to new hardware
  • If you are considering going on or coming off of virtualization
  • When you renew your support agreement
  • Before you merge or acquire another company, obtain their license portfolio
  • At least once a year

If you know the answer to each of these questions and have a policy in place to ensure your business stays in compliance with Oracle’s licensing requirements, you will be on sound footing and can avoid the high costs of an audit. These costs can include buying licenses at full price and paying back support on those licenses for each year that the organization was out of compliance.

Staying out of this trouble isn’t simple. Talk to your team to find out if they are aware of the questions in this blog and if you aren’t confident with the answers they provide, talk to a licensing expert. Guardian Eagle is a certified Oracle partner whose experts can help you identify what Oracle products you have licensed and what you should have licensed. More importantly, Eagle’s expert DBAs will look at your current database environment to determine the most cost effective architecture for your business.