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How to Optimize Oracle Estate to Avoid Unnecessary Costs

Any organization that operates Oracle database technologies within its infrastructure is likely to allocate a significant proportion of IT budget to licensing and maintenance. Lack of visibility into how these technologies are deployed and used can lead to the purchase of unnecessary licenses, financial exposure and audit risk.

How to Optimize Oracle Estate to Avoid Unnecessary Costs

How to Optimize Oracle Estate to Avoid Unnecessary Costs

This article reveals five ways to optimize your Oracle estate and gain a vital understanding of the products deployed, allowing you to make correct, fact-based decisions to avoid unnecessary costs.

Read this article and enable your stakeholders to:

  • Understand their Oracle deployment
  • Right-size their configurations
  • Use the right license metric for deployment to manage costs immediately

Table of contents

Management Packs and Database Options
Named User Plus vs. Processor Pricing
Hardware Running Oracle
Virtual Environments
Database Editions


The flexibility Oracle delivers through its database editions, features, Options and Management Packs makes this even more complex. This level of choice requires a wide variety of licensing options – combined with differing license multipliers (core factors) associated with physical cores that run the database products. There are also licensing implications to consider when using virtualization technologies.

To break down this complexity and enable stakeholders to make optimal licensing and configuration decisions, you need a Software Asset Management solution with in-built licensing intelligence that consolidates data from multiple sources and delivers it in a straightforward view.

To manage your Oracle estate, it is vital to understand the products deployed and used to make the right fact-based decisions.

Industry analysts have highlighted Oracle’s license complexity as a concern. This article covers five ways to manage this complexity and minimize the risk of unnecessary overspend on Oracle licenses.

Management Packs and Database Options

Base your decisions on usage

Oracle offers a variety of Management Packs and Database Options with their flagship solution – Enterprise Edition. These are often enabled by default in a standard installation.

Where Database Options are installed but not used, the burden to prove non-usage, and thus avoid paying for usage, lies with the customer. Database Options are expensive, so it is crucial to understand which ones are enabled; whether they are being actively used and if there is a strong enough business case to justify them.

Consolidate data to understand the choice

It is a common scenario for a chain of stakeholders to be involved in the deployment, configuration and ongoing maintenance of Oracle databases. Ensuring the various stakeholders can see all Management Packs and Database Options installed, and which ones are enabled and used, is vital for controlling costs.

A single instance of the Database Option Oracle Advanced Compression costs $11,500 per Oracle Processor (list price1). A single server running the Oracle server database may have eight processor cores with a core factor of between 0.25 to 1, resulting in a licensing risk of up to $92,000 with an additional 22% annual maintenance on top for this one Option.

In most cases, no single stakeholder has visibility of all aspects of the Oracle deployment.

Named User Plus vs. Processor Pricing

Understand available licensing metrics

Oracle provides two distinct methods to license its database products; Named User Plus or Processor licensing.

In general, if there are a small number of known users who access a database, it is cheaper to license with the Named User Plus (NUP) metric.

The most common scenario in which NUP is applied is where a database is installed within a test or development environment. In this case, access to the database is restricted and the number of users can be strictly controlled.

Choose the optimal license type and regularly review

Where a database is part of an externally facing system, such as a website backend, the licensing metric used must be carefully considered. Using the wrong one could leave your organization facing a substantial unnecessary bill. The number of users requiring access to a database can fluctuate over time. As such, you should periodically assess whether Named User Plus or Processor licenses are appropriate. It is important to note that the minimum NUP available to license is 25 NUP per Oracle Processor for EE (Enterprise Edition) and 10 NUP for SE2 (Standard Edition 2).

Example 1: Cost of licensing a 20 Intel Processor Core Datacenter with 250 users (minimum available for this Processor)

  • Processor – Enterprise Edition licensed @ $47,5001 running on a 20 Intel processor core datacenter is 20 x 0.5 x $47,500 = $475,000
  • Named User Plus – 250 x $9501 = $237,500

Example 2: The same 20 Intel Processor Core Datacenter with 600 users

  • Processor = $475,000
  • Named User Plus – 600 x $9501 = $570,000

Hardware Running Oracle

Why data centers must remain up-to-date

Rapid access and high availability are essential features of datacenters. As such, it is standard practice to keep vital components, like Oracle databases, running on up-to-date hardware.

The most frequently used Oracle licensing metrics are linked to hardware, so any change in the hardware on which an Oracle database is installed may have licensing implications, many of which are very costly.

Hardware changes impact licensing

Understanding license requirements for one server, which remains fairly static, is quite straightforward. It becomes much more complicated when there are hundreds of applications running on numerous server types. The complication is further exacerbated when you factor in dynamically changing business priorities and maintaining datacenter agility to support them.

Using a solution that consolidates all datacenter information together allows you to quickly understand current licensing requirements based upon the installed Oracle databases, Management Packs and Database Options. This enables you to make the correct licensing decision for your unique deployment.

Virtual Environments

Beware of licensing pitfalls

The type of virtual technology used in your environment can have a significant impact on your Oracle licensing liability. Oracle classifies virtualization technologies as either Hard Partitioning or Soft Partitioning and has different licensing considerations for each.

The term Hard Partitioning is used when the technology that is used to segment a server is recognized by Oracle. Only the segment of the server that’s running Oracle requires licensing.

Soft Partitioning refers to technology that Oracle does not recognize, such as VMware. Soft Partitioning does not limit Oracle’s licensing requirements to the partitioned segment and the organization is liable for the full capacity of the datacenter node on which Oracle resides – even if there is only one virtual machine running Oracle in the entire datacenter.

Understand your technologies

Organizations should ensure they use Hard Partitioning when they are only using a small section of the server, where possible. IBM LPAR or Solaris Container/Zone are examples of Oracle recognized technologies.

Where Soft Partitioning, such as VMware, needs to be used, ensure you understand your VMware environment and version as this can have a substantial impact on the number of licenses used.

Limiting the number of physical servers on which a virtual environment is installed, for instance by splitting off a separate Oracle cluster (VMware vSphere versions before 5.1) or vCenter Server Instances (vSphere versions 5.1 or later), can dramatically reduce the required number of licenses.

Database Editions

What are the differences?

Oracle provides different database editions; its flagship Enterprise Edition (EE), Standard Edition 2 (SE2) and Personal Edition. Depending on the edition, Oracle provides the choice to use multiple Management Packs and Database Options.

Oracle also imposes limitations1 on the hardware on which a database can be installed.

Although SE2 is intended primarily as a database solution for smaller companies, both SE2 and the older legacy Standard Edition or Standard Edition One may be the most appropriate product to deliver sufficient functionality within organizations.

Evaluate every decision on an individual basis

Having one instance of an EE database installed where an SE2 version would suffice, could cost $30,0002 more, plus 22% for maintenance. For organizations with hundreds of Oracle instances, this could amount to a huge unnecessary overspend. Given the cost implications, it is always important to scrutinize whether Enterprise Edition is necessary.

To evaluate the choice between EE and SE2 requires all database information to be consolidated and easily accessible, together with clear visibility of the environment in which they are deployed. Without the tools to do this, collating this information is time-consuming and error-prone.


Oracle licensing is both expensive and multi-faceted. Every configuration variation can lead to significant differences in license exposure.

This means that it is easy for organizations to get things wrong and for different stakeholders to be unaware of the consequences of their decisions.

Using a solution that allows stakeholders to understand the configuration of all Oracle components, the associated license position and the upshot of configuration changes ensures effective and proactive management of Oracle licenses.

Source: Snow Software