Come on, smile while you are driving

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Geschäftsmann auf dem Arbeitsweg
© Geber86 /

Many companies rely on Oracle’s powerful database technology. They operate critical business applications on top of this data storage and management solution. Not few of them cannot afford to replace it. Provided they would like to. And why should they? From a technology perspective there is no serious reason to think into that direction. The product is highly mature, secure, performant and stable. There are plenty of experienced administrators available on the employment market providing necessary know-how for operations.

Speeding is funny but expensive

Unfortunately it becomes challenging when license compliance is looking at Oracle deployments. On one side licensing terms are hard to understand and sometimes vague about rules and implications. On the other side, the dynamics and complexity of a data center may lead to insufficient transparency about actual configuration of new and existing database deployments. As a result correct licensing of Oracle databases becomes really challenging. Licenses and maintenance usually sum up to a significant investment for many companies. So there is a lot to win or lose if compliance is not under control. Some customers told me that they ran into unpleasant surprises with license reviews by the vendor. They discovered that they had to pay quite a lot of extra money for database options that they used without real need.

Sure, it makes fun to drive fast. Mario Andretti, a famous former Formula 1 racing driver, once said: “If you think, you have everything under control, your are not driving fast enough.” But IT operations is not a motor racing event. Experienced IT cracks love to install software. They also enjoy tuning it, making everything faster, more reliable, more responsive for their users. But without active management of licenses it’s just like driving along roads with speed limits while lacking a speedometer. You may be wasting time, driving too slow for safety. Or you get caught in a radar speed check being fined. But is it really possible to have an effective “Oracle Speedometer” to be on the safe side? Yes, but surprisingly that is not enough, yet. Let me explain that.

What’s the speed limit?

Yes, you can achieve transparency about your Oracle database deployments. There are solutions available on the market that collect and consolidate all relevant data from your servers. Just like that one of MATRIX42. The latest version of our solution is even able to calculate your license requirements for all the products and options involved. However, you should be aware that there is some ambiguity in Oracle’s interpretation of their own license terms with some scenarios. Therefore it is not always 100 percent clear whether you need a license or not. But that’s usually an acceptable blur.

With such a “speedometer” you then just need to know your “speed limit”, don’t you? Well, that’s another challenge. What you have to accomplish is to find out, which rules apply. Yes, there are standard licensing terms and interpretation practices, but they are just a baseline. What you need to do for a valid reconciliation of your purchased licenses with your license requirements is to understand your license agreements first. This may be tough and possibly you don’t have enough expertise among your employees to cope. Accordingly you should consider involving an external trusted advisory expert. He or she will help you sorting out all prerequisites and conditions that apply to your company.

Consider pit-stops and revise your strategy

I believe it is a good practice to conduct internal audit “pit-stops” with external support to verify that your SAM program works effectively. This is not only true with Oracle but with any vendor you are significantly engaged. This is also true for vendors that don’t audit you frequently. Consider looking at it from a cost perspective. You spend a lot of money for software and you should check your licensing position regularly. That enables you to optimize your purchases from a strategic view. If you know where you stand you are avoiding unnecessary costs. If you are effective with this, you also have mitigated any possible financial risks from inaccurate licensing.

So, don’t take your motivation for SAM from audits. Controlling and optimizing costs will pay off much faster. Especially for Oracle databases, but not only. Come on, imagine you smiling while your drive and then pass the next radar speed check with ease.

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