Six alternatives to replace licensed Oracle database options

More and more I hear companies looking into replacing expensive licensed database options with more cost-effective alternatives, for various reasons: simple cost reduction, or avoiding lock-in, or because of other strategic considerations. In order to kickstart the creative thinking, here are a few hardware and software based methods to achieve cost reduction in database options (on top of Oracle Enterprise Edition). I am assuming the base product stays the same (Oracle Enterprise Edition) as replacing EE with alternatives can be very cost effective – but requires serious changes in architecture and management so I’ll leave that for another time.

Read more of this post

Five reasons to choose VMware vs Oracle Multitenant

While busy preparing another blogpost on my dedupe analyzer tool, I was triggered to write a quick hotlist of reasons why one would strategically choose VMware virtualization over Oracle multitenant option if the goal is to achieve operational and cost benefits. There may be other good reasons to go for Oracle Multitenant but cost savings is not one of them.

On twitter I claimed I could give 5 reasons why, so here we go…

WARNING: Controversial topic – further reading at own risk ;-)

Read more of this post

Questions & Answers to replatforming webcast

Q&AA list of questions being asked to my most recent webcast on Oracle replatforming together with Madora Consulting.

I decided to put the Q&A on the blog so anyone can benefit instead of just the 100+ attendees we had on the webcast (awesome!)

Disclaimer: Some Q&A are about licensing and my answers are according to the best I know, but always consult with an independent expert (like my copresenter Keith Dobbs who I reviewed the Q&A with). Also the topic is highly controversial so don’t feel offended if you disagree ;)

Question: For normal data guard should i have to pay for normal DB EE or SE licenses or no need ?

Bart: Data Guard is free but requires both primary and standby host to be fully licensed. It requires Enterprise Edition. If you use advanced features such as running read-only queries on the standby, then you need Active Data Guard licenses on both nodes. Note that there is no technical difference between “normal” and “active” Data Guard. You need to pay for the license as soon as you use the Active Data Guard features.

Question: I’d like to know about replication Virtualized Oracle DB Server using Vsphere , should I worry about consistency?

Bart: VMware (vSphere) does not buffer any IO and passes any writes directly to the underlying storage. Consistency is therefore not dependent on whether or not you are running virtualized or physical. If you use any kind of storage replication (such as Dell EMC Recoverpoint, SRDF, VPLEX etc) then you must make sure that all volumes for a database are replicated as one “consistency” group, such that after a failover you don’t get timing issues between the different database volumes. As said, this is not depending on whether you run virtual or physical.

Also, I highly recommend testing D/R failover at least every 6 months or so, to make sure your D/R strategy is working in case you really need it. I have experience with customers who added local volumes but forgot to replicate those volumes which resulted in non-recoverable D/R systems. Using Dell EMC snapshot features of your storage array allows you to perform D/R testing during normal weekdays so your primary database and DR replication stay active even while you perform D/R testing (a method that you cannot use the same way with Data Guard unless you break replication or use other workarounds).

Question: How to use VMware in a DR site and the production site has engineered system ? Without high cost

Bart: Interesting scenario. Assuming Engineered System is either Exadata (most likely) or Supercluster (where the storage is the same as Exadata), the challenge here is that Oracle does not allow connectivity of non-Oracle storage, so we cannot use classic SAN replication here. We need to discuss in more detail but a few options you may consider:

  • Backup Exadata with EMC Data Domain, replicate to another Data Domain in the D/R site and use that to recover your database (you can use it to daily update your standby using replicated backup files). This would be a very cost efficient solution but the trade-off is that it would take some time to recover after a failover (so the RTO – recovery time objective) would not be close to zero.
  • Use Data Guard (the free version i.e. not using Active DG features) to replicate to a (Dell EMC) system. There are some disadvantages here and care must be taken that you don’t use Hybrid Columnar Compression – as this would have to be de-compressed first in order to start the standby database
  • Best solution: re-platform production from Engineered System to a Dell EMC proven solution and then you can use any D/R method you like, as well as save on license cost as we have shown in the presentation

Question: How are Madora (consulting) funded / paid for ? How does the local DEll EMC (Think DELL folks) Business Units generate revenue from a Madora engagement?

Bart: I assume this question was asked by one of our Dell EMC colleagues on the call. But sharing it with everyone because no secrets…

I’ve had this question before several times so it’s an important point, and we should have that in a future version of the presentation. There is no formal partnership between Madora and Dell EMC, because Madora must be able to provide a completely independent advice to customers and not be biased because being sub-contracted by Dell EMC. So for Dell EMC sales teams there is no direct revenue stream, however, the chance of winning infrastructure deals increases because

  • customers can save money and spend it on the infrastructure that is needed to achieve those savings
  • customers can eliminate uncertainty and make sure they are – and stay – compliant and don’t have to worry about project risks
  • bringing in license expertise can eliminate the objections raised by the customer on licensing, support, audits etc.

The relationship is purely an informal one but that said, we’ve cooperated succesfully on a number of occasions.

Question: How and why can a Customer move to Standard Edition?

Bart: If you have a database on Enterprise Edition and want to move to Standard Edition (Standard Edition 2 – SE2 – in future deployments as of Oracle version 12) then you must consider if there are any Oracle features in use that are not available in SE/SE2. If that is not the case, you can install a server with SE and move the datafiles, then restart the database. Again, test the scenario before go live as the devil is often in the details. Also you need to make sure you have enough SE(2) licenses because you are not allowed to run Standard Edition using Enterprise Edition licenses (it is essentially a different product). Madora may be able to help converting or re-negotiating licenses. Oracle will probably push back because it’s a huge reduction in their revenue stream.

Question: Can you convert Exadata quarter rack to ovm and reduce the licenses of DB and reuse them in DR site ? without buying new licenses.

Bart: (assuming OVM is Oracle Virtual Machine) – As long as the total number of physical processors is licensed then that should be possible from a licensing standpoint. Note that with OVM you have many of the same (perceived or real) license issues as with VMware (but Oracle doesn’t tell you that). Note that I would not recommend running OVM for consolidation of mission critical systems as it’s not best practice and does not offer the same level of performance management, 3rd party tooling integration and features as VMware, however, on Exadata it may be your only viable option next to running physical. I haven’t seen any customers yet who run OVM on Exadata for mission-critical workloads yet (but there sure will be a few out there – let me know your experiences!) so make sure you know what you are doing before starting such a journey.

Final thought:

I get many more questions during my customer meetings. Maybe I should put a static FAQ page on the topic that I update with new questions, answers and insights… Let me know what you think!

This post first appeared on Dirty Cache by Bart Sjerps. Copyright © 2011 – 2017. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.

Legal case – Oracle vs customer

Another example of Oracle apparently ignoring all business ethics and charging a customer €300,000.- for an environment where common sense leads to a more reasonable license fee of €4,000.-

I always wonder why customers (even very large and powerful ones) accept this behaviour without a fight and pay the fines or avoid it by buying into Oracle’s stack – while they would prefer a technical superior solution from another vendor. I don’t mind competition – it’s healthy for everyone – but I’ve seen too many examples where customers knowingly go for the mediocre solution because they are scared of the bullying by their database vendor if they go for the best one.

But this time it seems one (Dutch!) customer actually does not accept being pushed around and starts a legal battle with Oracle on insane licensing rules.

Copy/paste from the Linkedin article of Licenseconsulting:

“Some time ago we created a review report for a rather new and small Oracle client, who purchased Oracle software licenses in order to run them on a VMware platform. According to the client the (additional) cost of running Oracle on vCenter would be €4000.-. Oracle’s legal counsel confirmed in writing that the cost would be almost €300.000.- using VMware vCenter, and just a fraction of that cost if the client would use OracleVM instead.”

Read the entire post here

A must read if you are concerned with Oracle on VMware license issues.


Straight Talk on Oracle on VMware licensing

Last year on march 19, 2015, Database Trends and Applications (DBTA) hosted a webcast covering the licensing part of running Oracle on VMware.

As DBTA archives old webcasts after one year, I asked for permission to re-publish because I think it’s too valuable to have it hidden in the digital eternity (also why I have put it on a separate static blog page instead of a normal blogpost).

Speakers: Don Sullivan of VMware, Dave Welch of House of Brick, Daniel Hesselink of License Consulting, and Dan Young of Indiana University.

Sponsors: VMware, IOUG

The video is about an hour so take your time – but it is a definite MUST READ if you want to learn the truth about Oracle/VMware licensing. In the video it is explained how to value certain licensing documents, how to set up your VMware farm to avoid compliance problems, and most of all, it effectively handles a lot of the Oracle on VMware licensing FUD.

Get a cup of coffee, and view the webcast here: Straight Talk on Oracle on VMware licensing.



This post first appeared on Dirty Cache by Bart Sjerps. Copyright © 2011 – 2016. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.

Oracle LMS response to licensing on VMware

fineprintLast week I was in London to attend the UK Oracle User Group licensing event. After a number of sessions with excellent material leading to very interesting discussions (one was showing – with permission – some of my own content, with the comment that it saved this customer “a shitload of money” – thanks John for the mention :), there was a session from Oracle LMS UK (License Management Services).

A few interesting points from their presentation are worth sharing as otherwise you would not get much insight in the working methods of LMS.
Read more of this post

Oracle on VMware: Caging the license dragon

Virtualizing databases has huge financial and operational benefits – in particular with Oracle, where physically deployed database servers are typically heavily under-utilized which leads to huge over-spending on license cost.

Of course poor efficiency on database servers leads to higher processing requirements, to higher number of CPUs purchased, and in turn to massive additional license and maintenance revenue for the software vendor.

No surprise that software vendors attempt to stop or delay efforts to reduce poor efficiency in any way they can, using all the tricks in the playbook plus a number of dirty tricks that you will never find in books on business ethics.

mouse-trap-helmet-smallThe latest roadblock Oracle has come up with is what we’ll refer to as the VMotion trap.

Disclaimer: I will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented in this post. If you want to use the information in this post, verify the legal implications yourself or with advise from an independent, specialized 3rd party.

Read more of this post

The Oracle Parking Garage

Oracle parking garage

(Thanks to House of Brick Technologies)


Oracle, VMware and sub-server partitioning

costsaveLast week (during EMC world) a discussion came up on Twitter around Oracle licensing and whether Oracle would support CPU affinity as a way to license subsets of a physical server these days.

Unfortunately, the answer is NO (that is, if you run any other hypervisor than Oracle’s own Oracle VM). Enough has been said on this being anti-competitive and obviously another way for Oracle to lock in customers to their own stack. But keeping my promise, here’s the blogpost ;-)

A good writeup on that can be found here: Oracle’s reaction on the licensing discussion
And see Oracle’s own statement on this: Oracle Partitioning Policy

So let’s accept the situation and see if we can find smarter ways to run Oracle on a smaller license footprint – without having to use an inferior hypervisor from a vendor who isn’t likely to help you use it to reduce license cost savings…

The vast majority of enterprise customers run Oracle based on CPU licensing (actually, licensing is based on how many cores you have that run Oracle or have Oracle installed).
Read more of this post

TheCube interview EMC World 2014

Being interviewed yesterday at EMC World 2014 by Wikibon and SiliconAngle.


Bart @ The Cube

Update: You can find a report of the interview here: Best Practices for Putting Your Oracle Database into the Cloud