VMware Oracle Licensing – Myths and Facts

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I’ve had a significant proportion of my clients (maybe a third?) ask for my advice and guidance on VMware Oracle licensing. They seem to be scared (either through first or second-hand experience) of a bill from Oracle for their entire virtualization infrastructure because the potential exists for vMotion-ing Oracle server workloads from machine to machine and now across vCenters (since that’s a feature now in vSphere 6!). As a result, I have clients not even connecting their virtualized Oracle hosts to vCenter at all. But what’s myth and what’s fact when it comes to Oracle licensing on VMware?

Note: Oh wow, while I’ve been sitting on this for the past month, Chad Sakac pulled the pin on his grenade.

I should preface this discussion by pointing out that I’m not a lawyer of any kind, much less a contract law specialist. And unfortunately, that’s the kind of skill set that’s being dredged up here.

So what’s the main issue? Customers are telling me they’re hearing from Oracle that they need to license every CPU that Oracle could run on, instead of every CPU that Oracle does or has run on. Again, that’s a problem when you could vMotion to every host in your cluster. And cross-vCenter vMotion to other managed clusters. Or cross-vCenter vMotion to another company’s hosts. I suppose the theory behind this licensing claim would force every Oracle customer to license every CPU connected to any vCenter anywhere.

Enter the licensing experts at House of Brick, which has a significant part of their practice built around explaining the realities of Oracle licensing to Oracle customers, and if necessary, helping to prepare and defend their clients in the extreme case of Oracle license audits. We have internal experts on this topic at VMware, but can’t sit at the table during discussions with Oracle. House of Brick can.

If you dive deeper on their site, you can see they’ve got several webinars on the topic to choose from. The one I sat in on was Straight Talk on Oracle on VMware Licensing. Here’s the link to the associated write-up. It really blew away some assumptions I’d had:

  • The idea of soft and hard partitioning doesn’t appear in the Oracle license
  • The Oracle license doesn’t reference licensing to where Oracle could run, only where it is or has run
  • You can licenses less than an entire cluster of host for Oracle
  • The Oracle license specifically lists all associate documents that related to the contract (Entire Agreement clause), and none of the documents listed discuss partitioning or potentially-could-run licensing either

Again, I’m not a lawyer. If you’re running Oracle on VMware, consider talking to House of Brick about your specific contract language and how to best structure your VMware infrastructure to avoid over-paying for Oracle licensing.

I’m really glad that Chad Sakac pointed out that House of Brick is going to be at VMworld, presenting on the topic of VMware Oracle licensing. If you’re going to be there, send someone to one of their sessions, or perhaps reference a past year’s session recording.

Group Discussion: Oracle Licensing Panel with Jonathan Mitchell, Dave Welch & Kannan Mani [VIRT10741-GD]

Kannan Mani, Principal Product Manager – Data Management Platforms, HPE
Jonathan Mitchell, Founder, VLSS
David Welch, Founder, House of Brick Technologies

Wednesday, Aug 31, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Coral B, Level 0, Mandalay Bay Convention Center

Licensing SQL Server and Oracle on vSphere [VIRT9009]

Scott Salyer, Director Global SE Enablement Center of Excellence, VMware
David Welch, Founder, House of Brick Technologies

Wednesday, Aug 31, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Islander D, Level 0, Mandalay Bay Convention Center


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  • ef33b20c2efc1c3e81584d04ee44408be273e5d71db5174992f1_640_facts-1: Geralt on Pixabay

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John White is walking the path to virtualization mastery.

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