Oracle support, certification and licensing.

The Oracle licensing schema of the Oracle database seems to be a difficult  topic in the IT world.

First of all, if you buy a software license from Oracle, you buy a perpetual license to use this product (as is).
Support is another story. If you do not subscribe for support or you do not pay you annual support fee, well you will not get any support. NONE.
In these days of cyber terrorism I cannot think of a professional environment not paying for support and indeed most of them do.

But that does not mean they are covered. 

The Oracle RDBMS products evolves on a near regular basis, on top Oracle regularly provides security patches in order to fix vulnerabilities against security treats in their software (well all the top banks/industrial players/governments are using Oracle databases). For hackers it could be more interesting to hack a Oracle database than to hack a new version of Windows. 

The shocking thing is, you may be paying support for your 9,10,11 (off course .x.x version) but this product may well be no longer supported bij Oracle.
Well Oracle identifies a few support phases for their products:

Premier Support (for current products):

  • According to Oracle in non legal terms. Provides comprehensive maintenance and software upgrades for your Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and Oracle applications for (generally five years from the general availability (GA) date.) 

Extended support (for near obsolete products - comes normally at an additional fee):

  • According to Oracle in non legal terms.  Puts you in control of your Database, Middleware, and Applications upgrade strategy by providing additional maintenance and upgrades for Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and Oracle Applications for an additional fee on your normal support fee.

Sustaining Support (for obsolete products): 

  • According to Oracle in non legal terms. Maximizes your investment protection by providing maintenance for as long as you use your Oracle software. Features include access to Oracle online support tools, upgrade rights, pre-existing fixes and assistance from technical support experts.

The bad news now is that the Oracle RDBMS version is already out of primary support since January 2015. 

This is the Nr 1 reason why everybody should install and upgrade to Oracle 12c, as Oracle 11.2 is now in the extended support phase of the support cycle. Even when Oracle provides the first year of extended support of Oracle for free (after a legal clash with IBM and HP about the certification of their platforms by Oracle) you are in trouble as you will be charged for the extended support as of January 1st 2016. Extended support being a hefty mark-up on your standard support fee. 

But whats more worrying, even in extended support there will be no new patch sets - NONE
On top extended support is only valid for the latest patch set of a release, that is the patch set for the Release 11.2.0.x

The following table gives an overview:

Release Current patch set Next patch set Premier support ends Support cycle phase
12.1.0.x final End date not fixed Primary support
11.2.0.x NONE January 2015  Extended support
11.1.0.x NONE August 2012 Extended support
10.2.0.x NONE July 2010 Limited extended support
10.1.0.x NONE Jan 2009 Sustaining support
9.2.0.x NONE July 2007 Sustaining support
6,7,8 obsolete - - Obsolete

The detail can be found here:

Then there is the story of certification per platform and supported virtualization techniques:

Only the following platforms are currently certified: 

  • Oracle Solaris Sparc with different Virtualisation techniques. 
  • Oracle Solaris x86-64 with different Virtualisation techniques.
  • HP-UX Itanium
  • HP-PA RISC (not certified for current products)
  • Linux X86 (limited certification for < 12 c versions)
  • Linux X86-64 - fully supported with Oracle VM as of 2.2`
  • Linux on Power - version 10gR2 
  • IBM System Z (limited certification for < 12 c versions)
  • Microsoft Windows X86-64 with Hyper-V Server 2012.

The detail can be found here:

Missing in this list: VMWare, No, VMWare technology is indeed not certified by Oracle. And I have seen sales reps claiming the opposite even showing falsified screen dumps of the Oracle web site.

But there is worse, Oracle will ask you to license each and every processor in your VMWare cluster (a processor being (a core or even a tread) multiplied by a multiplication factor depending on the performance of an individual tread.

The reason Oracle claims for this is that VCPU’s in VMWare can’t be locked on a specific core/tread in the VMWare cluster hence they claim the Oracle database is using all the cores/treads in the cluster.

This can potentially cost the customer a lot of money. 

The only virtualization technologies allowed by Oracle on the Intel x86-64 bit platform are:

  • Oracle VM (versions > 2.2)
  • Microsoft Windows X86-64 with Hypervisor-V Server (Versions of Windows Server as of Windows 2008 R2.

Only certified platforms can be supported, hence VMWare (whatever) is NOT SUPPORTED!, not even with Oracle 12c version  Whatever sales reps might tell their customers.

Oracle offers two basic licensing schemes for its RDBMS software Enterprise Edition (the limited Oracle standard edition has other rules):

  • Named User Plus
    These are the actual users (with some minimums) But watch out a named user does not need to be a physical person. For instance in a Telco company each phone will also be counted for a named user. Each smart meter sending its consumption to a central database by whatever automatic means and generating records in the database will also be counted as a named user.
  • Processor License
    This metric is used in environments where users cannot be identified and counted (ex. the internet) The number of required licenses shall be determined by multiplying the total number of cores of the processor by a core processor licensing factor specified on the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table which can be accessed at
    All cores on all multicore chips for each licensed program are to be aggregated before multiplying by the appropriate core processor licensing factor and all fractions of a number are to be rounded up to the next whole number.

    For example all intel chips have a core multiplication factor of 0,5. For example a 4 core Intel I7 chip is seen as 8 CPU’s (4 cores of 2 treads) within Oracle VM but requires only 2 processor licenses (cores * 0,5) 

On Oracle VM or Hyper V you will only need to license the cores that you are actually using provided you restrict your guest VM to use only those x cores.

Since it is not possible in VMWare to restrict the VCPU’s to specific cores in a VMWare cluster, Oracle will aks you to license all cores in your VMWare cluster. If you VMWare is running on a 64 way blade center with 8 core Intel Xeon chips you will need to buy 256 processor licenses instead of the limited number of cores you will need to license on Oracle VM or Microsoft Hyper V.

If you install extra database environments (engines) on the same CPU cores as your first instance you do not need extra licenses. 

I am not taking position in this license debate. I am only warning user on what they can await when they do as many do and move their Oracle databases to a VMWare cluster. 

I have seen many companies that did buy insufficient licenses from Oracle and that were obliged by Oracle to pay a fine and on top pay the extra licenses. (at list price) 

If the relationship with Oracle sours they might even ask their customers to accept a black-box in their data center which will monitor and record the Oracle software usage.