I have written about the Oracle FUD when it comes to virtualized environments quite a bit before. Now it appears there is some new FUD circulating that might catch out unsuspecting customers. There is a new Phantom Menace from Oracle. This time it is to do with their interpretation of some new capabilities in VMware vSphere 5.1 and above. As with all the previous FUD it is very easy to combat. You simply and calmly ask your Oracle representative to show you the page in your contact, which is the legally binding and enforceable document that replaces all prior verbal and written agreement, where this new policy exists. It simply does not exist (unless you’ve been suckered into accepting some non-standard wording to your disadvantage). So what is this new FUD? Let’s take a look.
This only applies to per processor based licensing, if you are not using per processor based licensing this isn’t relevant for you, although named user plus in some contracts has a minimum number of users that must be licensed per processor. It is best to check the actual wording of your contact as it may differ from others including the publicly available Oracle contact here. Tobias 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 Communities site here. But let me summarise this for you.
Oracle is trying to suggest that because in vSphere 5.1 and above you can migrate VM’s across hosts without a requirement for shared storage that you must license all hosts visible to a vCenter, where any host(s) are running Oracle software. So they’re trying to say you have to license hosts in the same vCenter, even if they don’t have Oracle software running on them, and regardless if they share storage or not. This is just as ridiculous as Oracle trying to say that you have to license every host that is connected to the same shared storage platform if one of the hosts connected to said platform has Oracle running on it (this has been tried before). Both are a pure fiction and do not appear as a requirement of a customer contract, unless there is some custom wording in the contract that has managed to get past the legal and procurement department of a customers organisation without them noticing.
Standard Oracle contracts require that customers license all processors where Oracle is installed and/or running. Not where it might at some time in the future be installed and/or running. This is also spelled out in the Oracle Software Investment Guide. You must license every host that runs Oracle software, it’s that simple. If you migrate Oracle software to a new host, you must have a license for that host. But if Oracle software will never run on a particular host, you do not have to license it. The actual wording from the contract linked above says the following: “Processor: shall be defined as all processors where the Oracle programs are installed and/or running.” You do not have to license any processors or hosts where Oracle software is not running. It’s that simple. End of story.
The SIG also includes wording that may be similar to the following: This document is for educational purposes only and provides guidelines regarding policies in effect as of <some date>. 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. Therefore it is not part of your contract. The only documents that form part of your contract are those documents included in and referred to as part of your contract. Such as those referred to from the various links on the Oracle Contracts Page.
The wording in a customers contract also includes a statement to the effect that the contract, once duly signed by both parties, replaces all prior agreements both verbal and written. Therefore it is the sole source of truth as to what a customer is required to do, and is legally binding and enforceable. So if an Oracle Rep says something such as you must license every host in your environment or that is connected to the same storage, even if Oracle software isn’t running and will never run on said host, then simply calmly ask them where it says that in your contract. Ask them to point out the page and paragraph where it says that. If there is no such page or paragraph in your contract then you have you answer. The requirement does not exist. The actual wording in the contract from section L is as follows:
“L. Entire Agreement
IRE_OLSA_V120103_Def_V122304 Page 3 of 11
You agree that this agreement and the information which is incorporated into this 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 programs and/or services ordered by you, and that this agreement supersedes all prior or contemporaneous agreements or representations, written or oral, regarding such programs and/or services. If any term of this agreement is found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remaining provisions will remain effective. It is expressly agreed that the terms of this agreement and any Oracle ordering document shall supersede the terms in any purchase order or other non-Oracle ordering document and no terms included in any such purchase order or other non-Oracle ordering document shall apply to the programs and/or services ordered. This agreement and ordering documents may not be modified and the rights and restrictions may not be altered or waived except in a writing signed or accepted online through the Oracle Store by authorized representatives of you and of Oracle. Any notice required under this agreement shall be provided to the other party in writing.”
If you don’t have ready access to an Oracle OLSA agreement here are two publicly available versions you can refer to and become familiar with, note your individual contract wording may differ. November 2011 – City of Oceanside, December 2012 and this standard version from the Oracle web site (also linked to above).
It is up to you to understand the contracts and legal obligations that you have. You should check all license agreements with your legal teams. You should not accept at face value any arbitrary statement from an Oracle Rep unless it is backed up by your signed contract. You should ask Oracle where in your contract you have agreed and are bound by what they are saying. It is the only document that matters, it is the source of truth, it replaces all prior agreements both verbal and written, and is legally binding and enforceable (once signed by both parties). Fight the FUD!
This post first appeared on the Long White Virtual Clouds blog at longwhiteclouds.com. By Michael Webster +. Copyright © 2012 – 2014 – IT Solutions 2000 Ltd and Michael Webster +. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.
I remember reading the original post of yours, and it is true that these scare tactics seem to go round and round without any clear and concise clarification from Oracle. The confusion is probably in their interest.
However, whilst reading your update, one thing did spring to mind. What is Oracle's definition of a processor?
Do they mean a host with a physical processing chip or do they mean a virtually allocated processor, or do they mean both?
With Oracle a processor is always physical. Based on the core factor table. For Intel two cores is one processor.
great article and you might have seen my post on Twitter. It was from a friend in a company that specialises in software that saves customers money on true-ups etc. The problem acceding to my buddy is that rather than face the risk of an Oracle full blown audit or court action, many customers bow to pressure and bullying by Oracle and settle these discussions. It's entirely ridiculous. This is the challenge and it is entirely related to plunging revenue/profits at Oracle – this is how they plug the gaps. It's entirely unsavoury but in almost 20 years in IT I have seen many bad practices used by that company. It amazes me that they maintain their market share position.
I agree Paul. But it doesn’t have to be a court action or full audit. You simply have to ask Oracle where in your contract the ‘policy’ they are referring to exists. Put the onus on them to point it out. If it doesn’t exist, then it’s irrelevant. This is the easiest way to attack the FUD that some are peddling. If it’s not in the contract it is not enforceable, end of story. ‘Where does that requirement exist in my contract?’ Is a powerful question that more customers need to use.
i am constantly running into Oracle accounts and i need a small help understanding the definition of a “Core processor licensing factor” from Oracle’s document “Oracle Processor Core Factor Table”
Do we have some Oracle official explanation?
For example: If the factor is 0.5 like it is for the Intel x86 family, for a server with enabled 2 CPU socket with 2 cores and hyper-threading enabled how many Oracle CPU licenses do we need:
1. (2CPU-sockets * 2CPU-cores) * 0.5Core-factor = 2 Oracle CPU licenses
2. ((2CPU-sockets * 2CPU-cores) * 2) * 0.5Core-factor = 4 Oracle CPU licenses
3. Something else?
Thanks in advance.
Hyper threading does not impact core factor or licensing. You license the physical cores only. Therefore in the case you describe with 4 cores its 2 processors. But as always it comes down to your contract wording and that is the only legal document that matters.
Michael – I understand the argument you make and it makes sense – the contract is the binding document. Now the question is this – To your knowledge has anyone taken Oracle to task on this point and actually won?
I believe there was a case in France, but I don't have the details. All the issues I'm aware with and have been involved with have been sorted out with negotiation and have avoided legal action. Oracle is entitled to everything that is legally owed to them under the contract that the customer has agreed to and signed, and not a penny more. The contract replaces all prior communications, both verbal and written. What customers should do is understand their contract and ask Oracle to point out where it says in the contract, whatever it is that Oracle is saying. This usually avoids any need for legal action.
Why do you state that the Phantom Menace does not apply to NUP licensing if the # of processors is used to calculate the minimum number of NUP licenses for Oracle Database Enterprise Edition (25 NUP X #processors) ?
Hi Serge, In most but not all cases customers have already licensed more named users than they will have to worry about processors. Where there is for example 25 NUP per processor, then you still need to maintain compliance of the software running on the hardware based on the number of processors it is entitled to run on. For example, if you license you application for 500 users and you need 1 processor per 25 users, you can use 20 processors, or 40 x86 E5 cores (for example). This is sufficient for two x dual socket 10 core servers. But on said servers you can run an unlimited number of application instances provided it fits within the physical resources of the hosts. As with everything it comes back to your contract.
[…] into accepting some non-standard wording to your disadvantage).” – Michael Webster, Oracle FUD – The Phantom Menace: Licensing on VMware vSphere, Long White Virtual Clouds; […]