Oracle Database Licensing & Options

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Oracle Licensing Terms

The non-exclusive and restricted right to use Oracle software in accordance with the established terms and conditions is what Oracle defines as a license. The Oracle Master Agreement (OMA) outlines the general license rights, whereas the Ordering Document outlines the rights related to particular goods and services. The OMA is the contract that specifically outlines the typical rights provided, ownership, limitations, warranties, disclaimers, confidentiality obligations, etc. The particular items, license types, user count, degree of support, and discounts (if any) that a customer has ordered and will receive are all listed in the ordering document.

Oracle has developed the idea of license metric in order to quantify and gauge how users are utilizing Oracle software. When Oracle licenses its software to a customer, the "License Metric governs how the utilization is being measured," according to Oracle. Oracle utilizes two measures for its technology-related products (such as Oracle Database, Application Server, Business Intelligence Technology, Identity Management Products, etc.):

Oracle uses two metrics: a. Processor b. NUP (Named User Plus)

The number of sockets in the Standard Edition and the Standard Edition One, or the number of processor cores in the Enterprise Edition, on the server where the Database or Middleware product is installed and/or running, is the basis for the Processor License Metric. This measure is used when there are too many users to count (like on a website) or when the user base fluctuates a lot. The fact that all processors must be licensed is significant to keep in mind, even if one of them is disabled in the BIOS. Customers must count the number of cores multiplied by the core factor to ascertain the number of Oracle processing cores in the Enterprise Edition. Depending on the type of processor, the core factor influences the coefficient utilized. The Oracle core factor table is available at the following URL:

Let's use a straightforward illustration to show how the calculation process works. On a single server with two sockets, an Oracle customer runs multiple Oracle Enterprise Edition databases. Each socket has an Intel XEON X7560 8 core CPU installed in it. The typical core factor for Intel is 0.5. (c.f. core factor table). 8 Oracle processors total, licensed by the customer, are 2 sockets x 8 cores x 0.5 core factor. Since two sockets are used, if this customer runs the same databases on a Standard Edition or a Standard Edition One, he must license two Oracle CPUs.

Users and non-human operated devices accessing the database form the basis of the NUP Metric. When users can be counted, this metric is typically employed. Customers who use this metric are required to license either the minimum NUP or the number of NUPs accessing the Oracle software, whichever NUP is higher. For the Enterprise Edition, the calculation rule states that clients must license a minimum of 25 NUP per Oracle Processor and 5 NUP for the Standard Edition and Standard Edition One. Because the minima in the Standard Edition and the Standard Edition One are unrelated to the number of processor licenses, kindly take note that the number of NUP for these versions is only 5.

Variations between Oracle Database Editions

The following are the primary distinctions among the various Oracle Database Editions:

There are no license limitations for Oracle Database Enterprise Edition. Only this edition offers license options for databases (e.g. Partitioning, OLAP, Data Mining, Spatial, Enterprise Management Pack, etc.). Additionally, Oracle Database Enterprise offers a number of extra capabilities not seen in other editions (e.g. Data Guard, Transportable Tablespace, Materialized View Query Rewrite, Cross-Platform Backup, Flashback Table, Database, Transaction Query, etc.). Additionally, only this version may be watched by Grid Control or Cloud Control.

Oracle Database Standard Edition 2

Only servers with a maximum of 4 sockets can be licensed to run Oracle Database Standard Edition. This edition includes Real Application Cluster, but the cluster nodes can only add a maximum of four additional sockets. The maximum CPU count specified does not apply to a single node, but to the entire Real Application Cluster infrastructure.

Oracle Database Standard Edition

Only servers with a maximum of 2 sockets can be licensed to run Oracle Database Standard Edition One. Real Application Cluster is absent from the Standard Edition One in contrast to the Standard Edition. Additionally, the Standard Edition One lacks Automatic Workload Management, unlike the Standard Edition and the Enterprise Edition.

Oracle Database Express Edition (XE)

It can be installed on any size of host machine with any number of CPUs (one database per machine), but XE will store up to 11GB of user data, uses up to 1GB of memory and one CPU on the host machine. Many features integrated in other edition are not present in the Express Edition

Soft versus hard server partitioning

Oracle defines partitioning as "separating the CPUs on a server into different parts, each of which operates as an independent system" (cf. Oracle Partitioning Policy). This is referred to as "segmenting" at times. Partitioning capabilities are delivered by a number of hardware and software virtualization methods, each with a different level of resource allocation flexibility.

Customers are using partitioning strategies more and more frequently. The underlying technology and products seek to accomplish a number of objectives, including:

Workload balancing by giving some systems more or less CPU power. In order to maximize the use of resources, architecture consolidation may involve running numerous, distinct operating systems or multiple iterations of the same operating system on the same physical server using business strategies like "Pay-As-You-Grow" and "Capacity on Demand"

Oracle distinguishes between two partitioning types:

Firstly, Soft partitioning:

Due to the ease with which the CPU capacity allotted to the operating system running an Oracle database can be altered, soft partitioning is characterized by Oracle as a flexible method of operating system segmentation using OS resource managers. The following are a few non-exhaustive examples of these partitioning types: Solaris 9 Resource Containers, AIX Workload Manager, Oracle VM, and VMware.

"Soft partitioning is not permitted as a strategy to determine or limit the amount of software licenses necessary for any given server," reads the critical notice regarding this technique. In other words, users employing these soft partitioning technologies must license all of the physical systems' sockets or cores.

Secondly, Hard partitioning:

According to Oracle, hard partitioning is "a method of physically segmenting a server, by taking one large server and dividing it into discrete smaller systems." With its own CPUs, operating system, memory, input/output subsystem, and network resources, each separated system functions as a physically independent, self-contained server.

The hard partitioning technologies specified in this section of the policy document have been authorized by Oracle. They are allowed as a way to restrict the quantity of software licenses needed for any one server or server cluster. DR-enabled Dynamic System Domains (DSD), Solaris Zones (also known as Solaris Containers, capped Zones/Containers only), and LPAR are examples of approved hard partitioning solutions (adds DLPAR with AIX 5.2), Secure Resource Partitions (capped partitions only), Micro-Partitions (capped partitions only), vPar, nPar, Integrity Virtual Machine (capped partitions only), and Fujitsu's PPAR.

As described in the following paper, Oracle VM Server can be utilized as a hard partitioning technique if customers connect virtual CPUs to actual CPU threads or cores:

Architectural Solutions for Oracle Database

What are the potential remedies to be in compliance with Oracle licensing terms and conditions, taking into account the facts outlined in the preceding section? A non-exhaustive list of solutions is shown below. I voluntarily choose to concentrate primarily on Oracle propositions:

  1. By dedicating and licensing a new VMware vCenter Server instance to Oracle products with separate physical storage for Oracle, you may keep Oracle license footprint to only this particular vCenter Server instance. If your business strategy calls for routinely installing VMware as a "under layer" for each machine, then this approach might be intriguing. This solution's price mostly depends on the storage option picked.
  2. Compaction on a real host. Running multiple Oracle products of various versions on the same physical system is absolutely possible. Although this approach isn't the most versatile, you'll pay almost nothing for the license. However, moving all of your Oracle products from a virtual machine to a physical server will be necessary and can be time-consuming and difficult. The physical server that is picked largely determines the cost of this system.
  3. Making use of a hard partitioning technology, like the one described in the "hard partitioning" chapter. Depending on the hard partitioning technology selected, the cost and time required to move from VMware to another system can differ significantly from one system to another. For instance, Oracle VM can load both VMware and Hyper-V Virtual Machines and convert them immediately to an Oracle VM (in hard partitioning mode). You will pay 599 dollars per server with a maximum of two CPUs or 1'199 dollars per server with any number of CPUs for an Oracle VM with a year of support1. The ability to quickly deploy the application using prepared Oracle VM templates is another benefit of this technology.
  4. Turning on an Oracle Appliance, such as the Oracle Database Appliance (ODA): This appliance can be set up in either a virtualized or bare-metal mode. One benefit of this technology is that you can activate up to 48 cores (with increment by 2) and license a minimum of 2 cores per node (a total of 4 cores) in a virtualized manner! These days, it is nearly rare to find a solution that uses two servers with only four total cores, or two Oracle Processor Licenses. Unfortunately, one limitation is that the Standard Edition cannot be licensed on this box.

Server Trusting Partitioning mode is being used. Oracle offers a third server partitioning mode that is quite new. In order to license a portion of the total number of physical cores, it is now possible to use Oracle VM Server (OVM) without experiencing the disadvantage of OVM in hard partitioning mode. This limits the number of Oracle Processor licenses needed. Trusted partitioning is the name of this server's partitioning mode. The following are the trusted server partitioning usage requirements:

Employing a recognized Engineered System (such as Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Exalytics In-Memory Machine, or Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance – OVCA)

Monitoring VMs taking part in Oracle Trusted Partitions using an Oracle Enterprise Manager or higher (either in connected or detached mode)


Running Oracle software on VMware offers greater freedom. However, it can put you at great financial risk if you do not have a thorough understanding of Oracle license regulations. Additionally, there is a significant likelihood of encountering a license control: There are more than 20 Oracle LMS (License Management Services) audits conducted annually, just in French-speaking Switzerland.

The main takeaway from this post is to stay with VMware rather than using a different program. Before creating your Oracle architecture, you should consult an Oracle LMS or sales specialist if you are unsure about anything. Naturally, dbi services can assist you in preserving your Oracle licenses through our SLA or through recurring evaluations.




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