Oracle ULA certification intricacies in case of server virtualization

Oracle Unlimited License Agreements (ULAs) can provide many benefits, as long as you are aware of all legal details and the related financial and operational risks. Software license management companies like B-lay can support you in managing your ULA so you can simply do more and worry less. Take for instance some cases of server virtualization we typically encounter at clients.

Server virtualization can make the ULA certification process more complicated. Getting even one thing wrong can lead to huge risk. There are different types of virtualization as Oracle distinguishes between “Soft Partitioning” (e.g. VMware) and “Hard Partitioning” (e.g. IBM LPARs).

Point in case: VMware

Consider a VMware cluster you are using with Oracle’s software. Do you know how to count the number of processors for which you need to certify, if you deploy the software in such a virtual cluster? All physical processors and/or cores of the physical machines, which are part of it must be counted. But also any of the 23 separate licensable database options and database management packs which you may use in the VMware environment would also need to be certified or separately licensed in the same amount as the database licenses.

And did you know that with vSphere version 5.1 and later, an end-user is required to license (and therefore certify) all the physical servers from the entire VMware environment (vCenter Server Instance), including across datacenters, where the vm running Oracle may be moved (via vMotion) as the end-user has the ability to easily move the vm running Oracle to any server where VMware software is installed, whether vMotion is enabled or not?

It’s not uncommon that customers certify a large amount of processors on which the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition is deployed, not realizing that their (unintended) usage of a database option (for example Advanced Compression) requires them to license the database option as well for the same amount of processors for which they have certified their Oracle database ULA.

Point in case: IBM and all the others       

Another interesting example is the use of IBM Logical Partitioning (LPAR) with Oracle’s software. Do you know how to count the number of processors you need to certify if you deploy the software in logical partitions (LPARs), in a dedicated capacity or in a shared resource pool? And are you aware of the fact that for capped Sun Solaris Containers the number of cores required to be licensed/certified should be determined by calculating (ncpus or pset.max) / (number of threads per core) = cores to be licensed. And what would you need to do if you host hardware through companies like Amazon . . . ?