In my original article on the FUD around Oracle Licensing and Support titled Fight the FUD – Oracle Licensing and Support on VMware vSphere I discussed the Oracle Partitioning Guide and it’s relevance to VMware environments. I provided a link directly to the document on the Oracle web site so that you could all read directly from the source. What I didn’t highlight in my article at the time was that Oracle constantly updates that document without notice and without changing file name or version numbers. My records indicate that it’s been changed three times in the past 3 years. Why is this important? Read on to find out.
FUD #6 – Oracle Partitioning Guide Now Covers VMware Clusters
The Partitioning Guide has been updated on the following dates as far as I’ve been tracking – January 2011, December 2011 and September 2012. Each time subtle changes have been made and unless you were paying attention they would be hard to catch. Is this a big deal? Well no it’s not, and I’ll explain why, but first a word on how Oracle Sales Reps are using this new revision.
Your Oracle Account Manager may try and use the latest version to try and convince you that you need to license an entire VMware cluster, even if you are not installing or running Oracle on all the hosts of said cluster . Why? Because the document now contains the word ‘cluster’. However the word ‘cluster’ is not defined. This document is still completely irrelevant. Why is it irrelevant? Because this document is for educational purposes only and does not appear in your OLSA, which is the legally binding contract that you’ve signed with Oracle. Only the documents referenced at The Oracle License and Service Agreement Page are included in your OLSA, the Partitioning Guide is not one of the documents listed or referenced. Provided you following the terms of your contract, which is also outlined in the Oracle Software Investment Guide (another educational only document), then you will be licensed for all hosts where Oracle is installed and/or running.That is all you are required to do.
The OLSA does not say you must license every host where Oracle might possibly at some point in the future be installed and/or run, else you would have to license every host in your datacenter. Do you need to license all hosts connected into every SAN where Oracle is installed and/or run? NO! You must license the hosts were Oracle IS installed and/or run. As soon as a VM comes onto an unlicensed host, or Oracle is installed and/or run on an unlicensed host, then you must license that host, end of story.
Remember that your OLSA contract, which is legally binding and is executed by you and Oracle, is the only document that matters. It replaces all prior agreements both verbal and written. It is the only authoritative source that you need to reference when architecting your environments. Provided you license complete hosts then you have nothing to fear (baring configuration errors) and can proceed with confidence. Once a complete host or hosts is/are licensed you can run an unlimited number of Oracle VM’s on them provided you have sufficient physical capacity.
The only scenario where you can have an unlicensed host in the cluster and make use of it for Oracle is where you are using a dedicated host for failure, and you only use this host for failure events, which will leverage the 10 day rule. If you want to use a dedicated host for failure you must select this in the VMware HA Admission Control settings specifically. This is instead of using a number of hosts for failure or a percentage for admission control. The tradeoff is that this dedicated failure host can’t be used to run VM’s during normal operations. This is a small tradeoff in some environments when you consider the cost of software licenses, but you should also consider how many databases you can run per server and the license efficiency gains of that alone when you are choosing your admission control and cluster designs. For example instead of having a dedicated failover host have one less host but use all resources all of the time and take a potential performance hit during maintenance and failure, while benefitting from using all the capacity during normal operations (most of the time). The right decision will depend on your environment.
Making License Compliance Easier and More Visible in VMware Environments
The same company I wrote about in my article DBA’s Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Databases When You Virtualize Oracle, i.e. Blue Medora is not just providing great insights into Virtual Infrastructure Performance in Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c but is now also looking to provide ongoing License Compliance in VMware vSphere environments when running virtualized Oracle databases by way of an Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Licensing Compliance Plug-in also. This aim of this plug-in is to greatly simplify running Oracle on VMware when it comes to license compliance and remaining compliant. It aims to provide both proactive and reactive mechanisms to prevent Oracle license compliance issues and will include support for sub-cluster configurations, as per FUD #1, #5 and #6 (above).
The main capabilities of the plug-in, which is in beta now, are as follows:
- Reduces the risk of overdeploying Oracle licenses within VMware Clusters via real-time metric, pro-active alerting, and a historical audit trail of Oracle workload placement within VMware
- Mapping of virtualized Oracle workloads to the physical VMware ESXi hosts that have been licensed for Oracle use
- Detection, alerting, and remediation recommendations for vMotion and DRS Host Affinity related configuration issues that could allow a Oracle workload to move to a non-Oracle licensed ESXi host
- Provide suggestions for improved license optimization of VMware virtualized Oracle workloads
If you are interested in getting onto the beta then you can sign up at the plugin page. If you want to compare this to other tools you can also check out iQuate IQSonar. iQuate doesn’t integrate with Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c like the Blue Medora plug-in does, but it is an Oracle LMS Validated Tool for license compliance. I’m sure that the Blue Medora tool will also go through Oracle LMS validation at the appropriate time and it would be worth while checking it out and providing feedback.
Oracle presents a constant stream FUD that is great inspiration for articles on the topic of licensing and support. A lot of the Oracle Account Managers believe what they’re telling you. Like in my previous article Fight the FUD: Virtualization of Oracle Evolves to Best Practice for Production Systems by David Floyer, where the Oracle Account Manger told me Oracle would enforce their policies at any cost even if they’re not in the contract. It is up to all of us to keep them honest and to fight the FUD. Keep up the good fight!
[Updated 16/07/2015] If you want to listen a highly authoritative webinar from leading industry authorities on this topic I would recommend you check out Straight Talk On Oracle On VMware Licensing.
This post first appeared on the Long White Virtual Clouds blog at longwhiteclouds.com, by Michael Webster +. Copyright © 2013 – IT Solutions 2000 Ltd and Michael Webster +. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.
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Thank you so much for your updated on these issues. It is highly appreciated
Really now, how can anyone still do business with a greedy company that strangles their own customers in such ridiculous ways?
Keep up the awesome Blog mate.
Just in case you are not aware, you can use Portable NotePad++ to do a side-by-side compare to highlight the changes instantly.
Also do you post you updates to the NZ VMug on Linkedin?
Hi Terry, Thanks for your feedback, it is greatly appreciated. I don't post into the NZ VMUG Group on Linked-in. I'm not currently a member of that group. But if someone invites me to the group I'd be happy to share the content there. Also if you want to repost the links to that group I'm happy for that too. The more people who can read and understand this stuff the better.
Worth people remembering that this same non-contractual 'rules' applies to OVM 'out of the box' clusters (ignoring the core-binding and CPU whole cores within a single server) as much as VMware clusters.
Hi Paul, Great point. Yes the same rules apply to OVM out of the box as well. This is important for people to understand as there is a risk of license compliance issues or configuration risks there too.
Hi, I certainly appreciate this discussion as many of my clients are struggling to understand Oracle's agreement language. Btw OLSA (Oracle License and Services Agreement) was replaced by TOMA (Transactional Oracle Master Agreement) effective January 18th, 2013.
Looking into section 9. Entire Agreement, the customer agrees to the following:
9.1 You agree that the Master Agreement and the information which is incorporated into the Master Agreement by written reference (including reference to information contained in a URL or referenced policy), together with the applicable order, are the complete agreement for the Products and/or Service Offerings ordered by You and supersede all prior or contemporaneous agreements or representations, written or oral, regarding such Products and/or Service Offerings.
As for the referenced Partitioning "policy", found on this link:
I agree that it causes unnecessary customer frustration, as the foot note states:
"This document is for educational purposes only and provides guidelines regarding Oracle's policies in effect as of September 05, 2012. It may not be incorporated into any contract and does not constitute a contract or a commitment to any specific terms. Policies and this document are subject to change without notice.", yet Oracle references their policies in the TOMA.
Hi Ronny, great additional info. I hadn't seen an agreement from this year so this is very good to know. With regard to the references to 'Policy' in the TOMA does it list which policies are included and which documents or references those are defined in? Without a solid reference it's going to be impossible to hold a customer to an arbitrary policy. Is the partitioning guide now specifically mentioned and included? Even if it is the document is still not relevant in cases where whole hosts are licensed where the Oracle Software is installed and/ or Running. I'd also be interested to know if they include the term cluster and what if any definition they give to it. Also it doesn't really matter what is included by default as it can always be negotiated and clauses removed, amended or changed when the contracts are going through review. This is why the commercial and legal guys get the big bucks after all.
Well, I never expected them to be specifically clear – after all that's what these guys are paid for 😉
Very true. Plus if they were clear I also wouldn't have anything on this topic to write about.
Yesterday the partitioning guide has been updated again. Have you spotted any difference?
Hi JW, Just saw the updated document but I'll need to do a diff to find the changes. Nothing that is that obvious.
[…] http://longwhiteclouds.com/2013/06/04/the-fud-strikes-back-oracle-licensing-on-vmware/ “The OLSA does not say you must license every host where Oracle might possibly at some point in the future be installed and/or run, else you would have to license every host in your datacenter. Do you need to license all hosts connected into every SAN where Oracle is installed and/or run? NO! You must license the hosts were Oracle IS installed and/or run. As soon as a VM comes onto an unlicensed host, or Oracle is installed and/or run on an unlicensed host, then you must license that host, end of story.” Summary: Now then, once you license a CPU, any VM can run that version of Oracle without the need for addition Licenses.. So let’s Simply create a DRS rule that states the oracle VMs HAVE to run on a host, this is easy. So now that is done, run as many Oracle Standard Edition, in as many VMs are you want too! Knowing this will hopefully prevent my client from purchasing another piece of physical hardware, and it will cover them for DR. They will get 4 or 6 licenses, this will cover 2 or 4 cpus at HQ, and 2 at dr, they will be fully covered on Oracle as I will have audit logs saved for vMotion and drs events. If customer decides to do 4 cpu at hq then we have maintenance without shutting down the guest VMs This will allow them to be uber flexible with everything, and save some cash due to reduced hardware and all the other fun things virtualization brings, as well as adhere to their virtualization first policy! […]
Thank you for a good writeup Michael. In my department we run about 10 vmware clusters, 4 of which are dedicated to vmhosts running oradb instances. The reason for this is to isolate these clusters from the others in order to secure compliance with the Oracle Licensing scheme. The setup is similar to your method described in your previous post about licensing isolation (License Isolation Method 4# – dedicated oracle clusters”. Today however, we were told by our Oracle Account manager that we could not run these clusters in the same vSphere instance were other non-oracle cluster live. If we do so we were told to pay licenses for all the hosts inside the vSphere instance, which I think is outrageous. The temporary solution for us is to create a new separate vSphere instance, and move the oracle clusters into this one. Are you aware of any recent changes to the OLSA which would make this requirement valid?
Hi Vegard, nothing has changed. There is nothing in the OLSA/TOMA that requires you to license every host in a vCenter or vSphere environment. In fact none of these terms even exist in the contract wording. Unless you have agreed to and added some non-standard contract terms that include this, you have no obligation at all. The contract is the only thing that matters and they can't just change things on you without your agreement. The contract replaces all prior agreements both verbal and written. You only have to license where Oracle is installed and/or running. So ask them where what they are saying is written in your contract, which is the only legally binding agreement, and then watch them withdraw their claims.
Thank you for a quick reply. We are awaiting their answer 🙂
This is interesting and timely – our situation is pretty well identical to Vegards. We’ve been audited and in the last two days had two conversations with Oracle, one with licensing guy and one with the sales rep. Both can’t give us crystal clear answers about anything it seems and they are saying that to become compliant we need to purchase 1300 NUPS for our 400 users because even though our VM host Oracle is running on is only 14 processors (using oracles core table) they are telling us we need to buy enough NUPS for the entire 48 processors available on the Vcenter as well as the 12 processors on a remote server our oracle backups are copied to (even though there are no Oracle executables on the remote server)
Basically they are telling us to go back to physical servers or pay for over triple the amount of NUPS, but what they are really doing is making the option of replacing all our Oracle databases with MSSQL a very easy decision.
Two things you can do here. One, definitely tell Oracle it's not worth the additional licenses and that you're going to convert to SQL Server instead. Microsoft has been very helpful for customers that have wanted to do that. Second, ask them to point out to you in your contract where it says you have to license processors that do not run any Oracle software. In other words, show me in my legally binding contract where it says I have to license anything other than where Oracle is installed and/or running. If they can't point out a section and clause and the language in the contract where it says that. Then you ask them, so if this is not in my contract, why would I have to pay you any more money?
Based on which contractual obligation they are claiming this?
This webinar might be a very well spent hour.
I highly recommend that everyone watch this webinar that JW mentions. If it's not in the contract then it is completely irrelevant and you have no legal obligation to do anything.
Thanks JW & Michael – the link didn’t work but I registered for this webinar tomorrow: https://veconnect.us/gk/g/iUSCcMe6Y5c-254?REF_SOU…
Not sure if it’s the same one or not..
I’m trying to locate our OLSA to read it, but the original NUP purchase was made long ago and they don’t send a new one out with support renewals.
The convo’s with the Oracle rep’s was quite frustrating – the one with the licensing rep when going over the findings said that any failure to comply would result in back charges retro to the day we got the findings (which was yesterday – as specified in the findings doc), and that the sales rep would contact us and propose solutions. Then the convo with the sales rep today he was extremely vague about solutions saying he had no authority and implied our solution was to pay up & also possibly face back charges for as long as we’ve been running Oracle on VMWare.
Very puzzling behaviour, treating loyal customers like this – especially when I talked to an Oracle rep (unfortunately just over phone) before we migrated to VM environment and was specifically told we had to make sure all the available processors on THE HOST needed to be counted – no mention of the entire cluster.
I was able to get the link to work. I will include it in the body of the article. http://www.dbta.com/Webinars/Details.aspx?EventID…
Thanks Michael – I’ll have a look at that webinar when I get time, as I see it’s available on demand.
I did manage to get hold of (a copy of) our original OLSA by contacting the Oracle fellow who sends our license renewal notice every year. It’s a scanned copy of the original and I read it from start to end and the only place I found reference to processors at all was where it mentioned that “Oracle database standard edition may only be used on machines which have the ability to run a maximum of four processors or on a cluster of machines supporting up to a maximum of four processors per cluster”
There’s a similar mention regarding standard edition one as well, but nothing at all about processors, partitioning etc. or VMWare etc.
I also could not find any mention of how current online documents etc. would supercede the OLSA, unless I missed something. Our OLSA was done in 2005, and I went through some old emails with the renewal notices and found nothing other than the license renewal quotes – no contract addendums etc.
We’ve got another call next week with the licensing guy and our sales rep – I know from the last two conversations they’re going be using the pressure tactics again, I’m considering bringing up the L(egal) word & suggesting that perhaps our lawyer needs to talk to their legal dept..
HI Glen, Might be a good idea to get their legal involved if they want to push it. But I would start by saying that you've got the original agreement, you've read it form cover to cover, and you can't find anything in it at all that says you owe them anything. If they would kindly point out in the contract where it says you should do anything you'd like to know. If they can't find anything in the wording of the contract, then you have your answer. It's that simple. They'll probably point to a whole lot of the documents on their web site, like the software investment guide etc. But you can just say to them that those documents state they are for educational purposes only and may not be included in any contract, and that any contract replaces all prior agreements both verbal and written. Thanks very much, see you later.
Thanks Michael – during the last couple of days when I have been poring over articles about this, I believe someone said they contacted Oracle legal dept about this and they never got responses. I believe the assumption was Oracle legal did not want to touch this because if a case ever got to court & they lost it could mean potentially having to pay back a lot of money to people have just paid (when they didn’t really need to) without questioning.
I’ll definitely follow your suggestion though, and see where it goes from there..
Yep, you've got that right. It's all in that webinar as well. You really don't have to say too much, just ask the right questions and stick to what's in the contract. Essentially if it's not in the contract it doesn't exist. Just don't accept the bullying tactics. Pay exactly what you legally owe and no more.
Thanks for the great information it was very helpful.
I just wanted to confirm about VMSphere and licensing the following.
If there is a VM Sphere cluster and it has 4 hosts each with 2 Intel CPUs and 4 cores but i installed oracle enterprise database on one host in a virtual machine on that host only. Does oracle license on the entire cluster for all the 4 hosts (2*4*0.5*4=16 licenses) or just for the host (2*4*0.5=4 licenses)
have a great day
Hi Kal, I would recommend you read this article again and also http://longwhiteclouds.com/2014/10/04/oracle-fud-…. As it is relevant to your question. The answer is you only have to license the processors where Oracle is installed and/or running. If it's only running on one host, that's all you have to license. But you must make sure it only ever runs on a host where it is licensed and be able to prove that. The easiest way to manage license compliance is to have a dedicated cluster for your Oracle VM's, or a standalone host if you only want to license a single host, however that has no high availability. So realistically the minimum you should license is 2 hosts. If they each had 2 sockets and 4 cores, that would be 8 processor licenses required for the two host cluster, and you can still make use of high availability.