49 Responses

  1. Ed Grigson
    Ed Grigson at |

    Great article Michael. I run into the issues you discuss on a regular basis, in my case from an inhouse team of Oracle DBAs. They don't think virtualisation is appropriate for a production environment, and certainly not Oracle. Having articles like this at least gives me a fighting chance when up against the might of Oracle! Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.

    1. @vcdxnz001
      @vcdxnz001 at |

      Thanks for the comment Ed. Breaking through the skeptical DBA is one of my favorite past times. Especially when they actually 'get it' and see how beneficial virtualization can be, without sacrificing performance or availability. I had a skeptical 15 year Oracle DBA Vet tell me once after I spent a week with them on a project that they didn't believe it would work, but it is amazing, it's just like magic. This was after he saw vMotion of an Oracle RAC database without impact to his workload. I admit that pretty much is like magic.

      I find that taking the DBA's through a very methodical and disciplined process, which should be standard for business critical apps, and having them as key stakeholders in the design, deployment and testing, is a good way to start. Giving them real world evidence where others have succeeded and had great results also helps. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, we need to help the DBA's get to the table to they can take a sample. I hope all my articles help with that. Even with the most skeptical DBA's. I'm also a fan of giving the DBA's more tools rather than less to understand their environment. So in the projects I've worked on they've gotten access to restart their VM's and also to see all the infrastructure statistics and movements of their VM's. They have and maintain the complete visibility and control they need to deliver the high quality DBA services that everyone is used to. In most cases they get more visibility and more detail than they ever have before, and then the ability to stand up a new database in 30 minutes.

      Good luck with your continued efforts to get your DBA's on board. We have the largest organizations with their most critical databases virtualized where I live. It's only a matter of time before this starts to happen in the rest of the world.

      If any of your DBA's come to VMworld I would offer them a personal 1 hour session with me so they can ask any questions they like. No obligations and no charge. I'd be happy for them to grill me with their toughest questions.

  2. Duco Jaspars
    Duco Jaspars at |

    Great write up Michael!

  3. DRS Host Affinity rules can be used to run Oracle on a subset of the hosts within a cluster | UP2V

    […] Webster wrote a great posting titled Fight the FUD – Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere. The artivle has a lot of information and tries to get rid of all the FUD spread around by Oracle […]

  4. Oracle en VMware, een never-ending FUD story? « EarlyBert

    […] Michael Webster heeft de belangrijkste FUD-uitspraken rond Oracle onder VMware nog een keer op een rij gezet: […]

  5. Jeff Browning
    Jeff Browning at |


    Thanks very much for your kind words concerning my blog. I am in violent agreement with everything you say in this post.

    I think you cover the native VMware options very well. One additional resource that I have recently become aware of is IQuate's IQSonar software product, which is probably the best software license product around (at least from a virtualized Oracle perspective). You can find more information on IQSonar here:


    Fundamentally, IQSonar allows you to monitor your entire data center from a perspective of software license compliance. All Oracle software editions and paid features are covered. IQSonar is also VMware-aware, so the movement of a VM running Oracle software is monitored and logged by the product. Oracle has actually certified IQSonar as providing authoritative information for Oracle licensing purposes.

    The use of IQSonar is generally cost effective, in that it allows you to detect Oracle paid features (such as partitioning) that are installed but not running. Oracle does not charge for these features if you can prove that they are not actually in use. Thus, the use of IQSonar frequently often ends up saving you money. In any event, it eliminates any questions regarding the hardware where Oracle software is installed and running at any given time, and thus there is no fear uncertainty or doubt in the Oracle software space when you have a product like this in your datacenter. I certainly consider it well worth the peace of mind.



    1. @vcdxnz001
      @vcdxnz001 at |

      Thanks Jeff. I really appreciate your comment, glad you enjoyed the article. Great to know there is an Oracle approved tool to help with license compliance.

  6. James
    James at |

    Excellent work Michael, I'm sure this will be of great assistance to a great deal of people.

  7. Cameron
    Cameron at |

    Mike, Love it. However trying to find more info on ”Oracle Standard Edition is not memory limited, and is licensed by CPU Socket up to a maximum of 4. ” I’ve checked the link and sure it says that Standard Edition is up to 4 sockets, but if you have hex cores in each socket = 24 cores, surely you’d need to license all cores * 50% = 12 Processor licences? The Oracle shop (online) allowes for #users or Processor, in this case I’d inclinded to say that I’d be needing 12 processor licences???? Any further infomation would be fantasic.


    1. Cameron
      Cameron at |

      Sorry Mike further googling found this snippit

      "Different editions of the Oracle database have different ways of counting the number of processors that require licensing. For Standard Edition or Standard Edition One editions of the programs, a processor is counted as equivalent to a socket, irrespective of the number of cores on the chip in the socket."

      1. Oracle Heretic
        Oracle Heretic at |


        That's right. This is one of the main reasons that Intel continues to scale their processors by adding cores and increasing the number of threads (4 thread cores are on the horizon and 8 thread cores not much later). Remember that a vCPU is a thread, not a core. Also, Oracle is very hyper threading aware, so scalability in terms of hyper threading is fairly high.

        This means in terms of vCPUs that a hex core processor with 4 threads per core would be able to support 24 vCPUs with no software-based CPU sharing (but of course the hardware based core / thread sharing overhead would still apply).



      2. @vcdxnz001
        @vcdxnz001 at |

        Hi Cameron, There are great use cases where customers have deployed Oracle on AMD chips with 12 and 16 cores or the Intel 8 and 10 core CPU's, up to 4 sockets total (no core per socket or memory limit or DB size limit). The key thing to remember is that you must license all the physical sockets, up to a maximum of 4, and then you can run unlimited number of virtual machines. So in the scenario I explain you can deploy 4 ESXi hosts, each with say 128GB, 192GB or 256GB RAM, you can run unlimited number of Oracle SE DB VM's across those 4 hosts, provided they have no more than 1 socket each, which could be up to 10 cores on Intel or 20 threads. This allows you to virtualize a lot of databases, including RAC, at a very affordable price, especially if you already own SE licenses. As a bonus this also allows HA and vMotion for your SE databases, including RAC, which allows better than physical availability, as when a host fails the RAC node restarts, non-disruptive maintenance and upgrades, much easier scalability of hosts.

  8. Jeff Messer (@jefmes
    Jeff Messer (@jefmes at |

    Thanks for taking the time to write this, Michael. I'll definitely be referring to it if questions come up about Oracle on VMware.

    Bottom line for me – people need to STOP using Oracle! I know that's not always an option, but they've proven time and again that they, 1. Can't be trusted, and 2. Have no problem screwing with their customers. They're not worth doing business with in my opinion. I was very happy to see them lose against Google in their recent lawsuit. That said, during those times that an application comes into our environment from an "Oracle only" vendor, I'll certainly be keeping this post in mind.

  9. Lee Dilworth
    Lee Dilworth at |

    Great write up Michael!!!!

  10. Alex Andrew
    Alex Andrew at |

    Hi Michael,

    I enjoy references to Elmer Fudd, and this is not unusual for any software vendor to use this to get market share and force their customers to license their software in a vareity of sometimes un-necessary ways.

    We also have an Oracle Verified tool that looks at VMware usage, we have recently added the excellent VMware Java api.


    For us the following statement is probably the best approach, with whether to go with Oracle on VM: Cost of Licensing v Cost of utlization & Cost of managability. We recommend Linear regression modeling to enable decent utilization data to be clearly understood, (Oracle Database actually helps perform this, there is an excellent artical by a DBA I'll try an track down the link).

    As an Oracle licensing specialist I feel I need to point out that there is a big difference in your OLSA, and the order forms that give you "your rights to use" which are defined at time of purchase license metrics. It is these that you need to understand clearly, please bear in mind that Oracle have changed these on a regular basis. The OLSA is in effect your master agreement, however each transactional purchase you have made over the years has embeded license metrics that supperceed those of the OLSA.

    So for example the number of minimum users in differs in some years. it is this kind of detail that you need to look at to make the informed decision whether to use Oracle on VM.

    I agree wholeheartedly that if you are running a single Oracle DB on a VMware cluster, then that is not going to be value for money. But the same would apply to running it in an uncapped container, or LPAR on IBM. The key is to use Oracle only where you need to, the amount of cpu wastage we see is phenomenal. When we look at live production systems, that are utlizing less than 30% of CPU even at peak transaction load, then we know where the money is being burned.

    I expect though that in the EU at least the Oracle VM and VMware licensing differences could be seen to be an anit-competive instrument. Not dsmiliar to the HP/Oracle suit.

    Good luck with your campaign!

    1. @vcdxnz001
      @vcdxnz001 at |

      Hi Alex, thanks so much for this valuable contribution to the discussion and for letting us know about this additional tool for help manage this process. I should have covered the amendments to agreements over time in the article and "your rights to use", but I thought Jeff Browning and Dave Welch covered the necessary components adequately, so thank you for including this in your comment. The main point I'm trying to make is that the written and executed contracts with it's written and executed amendments and supporting written documents they reference is what determines the conditions customers need to operate under. Not some unwritten policy. Oracle's documents aren't as confusing as some of the other software vendors. I agree with you 100% that cost of licensing vs cost of utilization and management are critically important factors. Customers can benefit greatly in all of those areas by virtualizing on vSphere when they can boost their license utilization.

      You make a great point about running a single DB on a Cluster vs running on an uncapped LPAR. Another big difference there is the core licensing factor that would apply, as the LPAR would be 1.0 vs 0.5 on the vSphere Cluster. But there is no point licensing a whole cluster for one DB. Customers are far better off licensing a single host or a couple of hosts and then making the best use of their licensed capacity they can, and potentially switching to Standard from Enterprise licenses at the same time if that makes sense.

      I also agree that the difference between Oracle VM and VMware around partitioning could be seen as anti-competitive and an anti-trust issue. It will be interesting to see if the EU does anything about this and if they do whether the US follows.

      Thanks for your comments, it's really good to get validation of this from an Oracle Licensing specialist. I hope that customers based on this article start to push back on Oracle and force them to behave fairly, and make the best use of their licenses and the massive ROI and operational benefits that they can achieve by virtualizing their workloads without sacrificing performance and availability. Help me spread the word and we can help benefit all Oracle customers.

  11. iwan rahabok
    iwan rahabok at |

    Glad you enjoyed the email I shared with you. Yes indeed customer holds the key. Never gets bullied by your vendor (any vendors).

  12. Its on tape: Oracle supports VMware DRS Host Affinity | UP2V

    […] THE MASTER blogposting explaining everything for running Oracle on vSphere is this written by Michael Webster. MUST READ! However the statement which was made by Oracle at VMworldTV was not known by the time of writing of that post! […]

  13. Matt Green
    Matt Green at |

    Brilliant overview of all the key points to consider with Oracle on VMware. Having been through a number of TCO comparisons there's one key point you only lightly touch on that I believe needs expanding – rightsizing of hosts. In an era of dual/quad socket hosts running hex core procs and above, it can be a challenge to provide adequate hosts for failure and maintenance in a cluster, and/or right size DR and pre-production environments.

    Large environments migrating from legacy Unix will find this a doddle. Smaller Oracle customers moving from dual/quad x86 physical environments may find it a challenge unless they have many many nodes to consolidate. For example an environment consisting of 8 dual-core physical machines (16 cores) will require additional licenses to move to 3 hosts with a single hex core each (18 cores). Also, a hardware failure will now incur a 6 core capacity penalty vs a 2 core penalty previously (assuming core for core performance and clustered via RAC).

    The other scenario is where multiple Oracle products are used – such as WebLogic etc. All the above rules and lack of hardware/license optimisation apply on a per-product basis.

    In some cases OVM and the inane CPU pinning rule can be a more cost effective way to manage the cost of Oracle licenses. As always the key is to model and compare for each use case – always easier with the right facts on the table. One hopes Oracle roll over and allows their customers to chose the hypervisor they prefer!

    1. @vcdxnz001
      @vcdxnz001 at |

      Hi Matt,

      I agree I could have spent more time on the right sizing considerations, this could itself be an entire post. It is a challenge with such limited time to cover everything in sufficient depth. When dealing with low scale / low numbers of DB's sufficient infrastructure to provide failure and maintenance capacity needs to be considered in line with licensing requirements. There is no single right way of designing the solution, it has to be driven by business requirements, risks, and constraints. Also when upgrading from one hardware platform to the next you need to purchase what is required to deliver the desired requirements and not too much. For small scale environments you may only have a couple of hosts in a cluster, or in a very small scenario just a single host. The advantage remains that you can then utilize all of the hardware that is licensed to run as many database server instances as you wish and choose which ones will survive in the case of failure (assuming more than one host). Even with a single host there are still benefits to virtualizing, such as hardware independence, easier backup and DR, potentially better security, resource isolation, easier hardware upgrades, additional management tools, rapid provisioning etc.

      You're also quite correct that the amount of licensed capacity lost during a failure should be a consideration. It's something that should be dealt with in the design, which should support the business requirements, which themselves should be well understood, defined and documented. There is no reason the older hardware couldn't be reused for vSphere provided it's supported on the hardware compatibility list, again provided it meets the customer requirements for service levels, availability and performance. The fact remains the licensing cost is the same regardless if you virtualize or not. In aggregate you still need the same quantity of resources for performance, availability, scalability and other service levels and to meet business requirements. So you're still far better off virtualizing, especially as the environment grows.

      I would argue that the OVM pinning isn't a cost effective or efficient way to manage the environment as it introduces additional management complexity and costs. It also introduces an additional virtualization platform that requires skilled people to maintain and operate and additional training over and above existing investments. It's a complex topic with many factors to consider that can't be evaluated in isolation to determine the most appropriate solution. It needs to be approach holistically.

  14. APP-BCA1751 – Virtualizing Oracle: Caging the Licensing Dragon | UP2V

    […] information on Oracle for VMware licensing in this excellent post by Michael […]

  15. Save money by virtualizing Oracle « Dirty Cache

    […] Longwhiteclouds – Fight the FUD – Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere Rate this:Share this:EmailPrintLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  16. caraus
    caraus at |

    Excellent article!

    Did you check the 2012 partitioning doc posted by Oracle? http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/partit

    And here is another doc describing hard partitioning implemented by Amazon and certified by Oracle – i am assuming that amazon might be using Oracle VMS instances to run Oracle DB: http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/cloud-

    1. @vcdxnz001
      @vcdxnz001 at |

      Yes I have read the Oracle partitioning guide (referenced in my article). For the most part it is not relevant except in very small environment, debatable even then, even less relevant with enterprise edition as covered in the article. The deal with Amazon is a special deal between Oracle and Amazon and not available to other providers at this point. Database as a Service is an interesting proposition. Other service providers will need to negotiate their own agreements with Oracle.

      1. Othman
        Othman at |

        Great post Michael,

        We are a large company > 150K users and planning to migrate to Linux/VMware from Unix. However, it has been a challenge to find big companies running oracle on Linux/VMware platform.


      2. @vcdxnz001
        @vcdxnz001 at |

        Hi Othman, I know of a few large organizations running Oracle on Linux / VMware. One that springs to mind immediately is Indiana University with over 130K users. EMC is another big company, although not at the 100K user mark. There are a number in Europe also with large SAP systems with Oracle DB back ends. I'm in the process of virtualizing some of the Oracle systems for an organization with over 6million end users / 1million online users. There are some good reference cases on VMware's web site – Virtualizing Oracle with VMware, and we have some other good ones in the APJ region. You should look for references that are similar in size and scale to your systems, as well as companies of a decent size. Also it's more important that you understand the application service levels, system requirements and infrastructure metrics than pure numbers of end users. One of my previous projects I virtualized 80 Oracle DB systems (PeopleSoft 9.1 front end / apps already virtualized) for an organization that had 45K users, up to 10K concurrent users, 40TB data for these databases. We went through a very methodical process to design, verify and migrate the systems of the source system to RHEL on vSphere 4.1. Saved them 90% Capex and they achieved 5x performance gain, on top of significantly lower Opex costs. I have a number of other architectural posts that you might find useful on my Oracle page (longwhiteclouds.com/oracle). There are a number of options to help you through the process including my company, VMware Professional Services, and VMware Partners that have achieved the Virtualizing Buisness Critical Applications competency for Oracle (which I have).

  17. Virtualization & Cloud Computing Weekly Wrap Up #36 | viktorious.nl – Virtualization & Cloud Computing
  18. Oracle Heretic
    Oracle Heretic at |

    TBPH, I can run out of fingers and toes on every extremity on my body counting Fortune 100 companies who are running Oracle on VMware / Linux / x86-64, at this point, at least in test / dev mode. The use of VMware for non-production Oracle database servers (test / dev, backup proxy server, data warehouse staging / ETL, monthly close, and so forth) has become so commonplace as to be standard. Let me know if you want company names, but pretty much name any major household name (Bank of America, GE, UBS, etc.) and they are doing it. The use of Oracle for the hard core production stuff is less common, but that footprint is also growing, as folks become more comfortable with the environment on their non-production stuff.

  19. Planning to Migrate Oracle from Unix to Linux on vSphere « Long White Virtual Clouds

    […] Oracle is available on my Oracle Page. Licensing and Support of Oracle is addressed in my article Fight the FUD –  Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere. If for some reason your applications vendor doesn’t currently support it’s product […]

  20. Othman
    Othman at |

    Thanks for the reply. Can you please share the list especially Oil & Gas companies?

  21. Michael McNamara
    Michael McNamara at |

    Thanks for the very concise write-up Michael it's a very big help!

    I'm currently working through the process or verifying that we are properly licensed in both our physical and virtual environments. I realize your discussion is around VMware but is it your understanding that any Internet facing applications require per processor licenses as opposed to Named User Plus?

    Also curious if anyone is using a standby VM host in their cluster for HA/DR and if they are also licensing the cores in that host. From what I've read here and other places the consensus seems to be you only need to license the cores of the hosts you are running on. Understanding that you'll need to prove which hosts your Oracle instances have been running on if ever audited.


    1. @vcdxnz001
      @vcdxnz001 at |

      Hi Michael, Processor based licensing in that scenario is much more cost effective. Named User Plus Licensing is used where you can easily identify the users who will be accessing the system. Unless you want to license everyone on the planet, which would be cost prohibitive, then processor based is the way to go. With regard to the HA/DR host there is specific wording in most Oracle license agreement around what you can do from an HA/DR perspective. I think there would be some restrictions on how you set up the cluster also. Most customers will run their Oracle workloads on a group of hosts that includes capacity for HA failover events. In which case they are licensing the failover host. This means during normal business they will get full use of the host and all of it's performance capabilities. Normally you would reserve sufficient resources to allow the minimum acceptable performance taking into account host failure and then use the additional capacity for extra performance. In theory you might be able to set up a dedicated host or hosts for failover in the cluster, but then you can't utilize them for anything, not just your Oracle workloads.

      You will be audited, it's a given, so my advice is to design your environment so it is as easy as possible to prove where your Oracle software is installed and run, without any ambiguity. Make it easy to deploy, easy to operate, easy to remain compliant, and reduce risk of configuration errors that could impact performance or compliance.

  22. Josef Hans Lara
    Josef Hans Lara at |

    Reblogged this on The Licensing Guru and commented:
    great insight on Oracle on Vmware infrastructure

  23. » Return of the FUD – Oracle Licensing on VMware vSphere Long White Virtual Clouds

    […] of my regular readers may remember an article I published titled Fight the FUD – Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere . This article represents an addendum to my original article as some additional FUD has come to […]

  24. elgreco81
    elgreco81 at |

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for this great post. I found it while trying to find the answer to this question?

    Is it possible to disable physical processors from the server BIOS in order to avoid having to pay for those processor's licenses?

    Oracle sales people says "it is not possible except if you use our hardware". VMware Education says it is possible but it doesn't make refference to the hardware vendor…it just say it is possible (documentation and on-line courses about virtualizing Oracle on vSphere and VMworld presentations) but doesn't make any reference to hardware vendors.

    I have also posted this question in VMware communities

    Thanks in advance and please post any news regarding your vCert Manager project!!! :)


    Sebastian Greco

  25. Darryl Griffiths
    Darryl Griffiths at |

    Excellent post.

    Whilst composing my own research document, I've created a page of useful Oracle on VMWare (although for SAP) links to various sources of information that other readers may find useful:

    I've also found that Oracle have taken quite a strict stance on databases running on VMWare, as per my previous post in Feb 2012:
    The post also includes evidence that Oracle themselves, use VMWare internally for documentation purposes and the like.

    "Do as I say, but not as I do.", springs to mind.

  26. Bryce Kaiser
    Bryce Kaiser at |

    Enterprise Manager Plugin for Oracle on VMware License Optimization

    Is confusion, or lack of knowledge around Oracle licensing policies and fees on VMware preventing your enterprise from leveraging the technical and business benefits of Oracle on VMware to the fullest?

    Blue Medora is seeking interested Beta participants to help us validate the features and functionality of a new Oracle Enterprise Manager (Oracle EM) Plugin, the Blue Medora Oracle Enterprise Manager (12c) Plugin for Oracle on VMware License Optimization.

    The plugin provides an Oracle-based solution to the problem of managing Oracle workloads on VMware mixed Cluster environments where virtual machine mobility dramatically increases the risk of Oracle license over deployment and overspending.

    The primary functionality provided by the plugin includes:

    • Reduce the risk of over deploying Oracle licenses within VMware Clusters

    • Mapping of virtualized Oracle workloads to the physical VMware ESX hosts

    • Detection, alerting, and remediation recommendations for vMotion and DRS Host Affinity related configuration issues

    • Recommendations for improved license optimization of VMware virtualized Oracle workloads

    if you are interested in seeing more detailed information about the EM12c Plugin for Oracle on VMware License Optimization, and/or you would like to participate in our beta program for this release, please view the page and beta request form by clicking this link:


    We greatly appreciate your input on this matter, so even if you do not want to be a beta participant, please consider sharing your thoughts on whether this set of capabilities would provide value to you and your enterprise. We are always interested in what customers think; especially when it comes to extending the reach of Enterprise Manager!

  27. Jerome
    Jerome at |

    Excellent post.

    I'm building 3 dedicated clusters (2 servers per cluster) for each of our Oracle Product & Options.

    The Storage admin guy and VMware admin guy want to create only 1 dataStore and mount this unique datastore on the 6 servers then defined VM only on the cluster where it should run.

    Could you please tell me if there is a good argument to do 1 datastore per cluster for cluster that manage different Oracle product ?

  28. Adventure Time! » Oracle on VMware Lic and Support
  29. jnoel
    jnoel at |

    Great work Mike!

  30. » Nutanix: The Big Red Easy Button for Oracle Databases – Part 1 Long White Virtual Clouds

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  31. Nutanix: The Big Red Easy Button for Oracle Databases – Part 1 | Nutanix

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  33. Tobias
    Tobias at |
  34. » Oracle FUD – The Phantom Menace: Licensing on VMware vSphere Long White Virtual Clouds

    […] reported the FUD in my articles titled Fight the FUD – Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere and Return of the FUD – Oracle Licensing on VMware vSphere. It refers to an post on the VMware […]

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