Oracle Licensing – That’s Just Crazy

Are you easy to do business with?

Some years back I read this question in a business article about customer service. It’s a pointed question to create introspection about attitudes, business processes, and services. I like to flip the question on myself, “am I easy to do business with”, and then start finding areas where I need to improve or my group needs to improve with customer service. There are plenty.

This week I found myself locked into this question with a representative from Oracle regarding software licensing. I originally inquired about licensing for a non-production test environment. This started a longer conversation where I discovered some of the finer points of Oracle licensing. Some of it just doesn’t make sense.

Production and Testing

Call me old school, but non-production test environments typically didn’t require full licensing for software. I though the basis for software licensing was to charge where value is received (production systems). Oracle doesn’t distinguish between production and test environments. They want software fully licensed in both. Now I have an open mind to this. Test environments do provide a value to companies. Perhaps there should be some charge. But is it the same value as production? Do I create revenue for my company with my non-production environment? Should it require full licensing?


Oracle doesn’t recognize VMware. Therefore their licensing formulas as based on the total cores in the host regardless of how many cores are allocated to a virtual machine. VMware is a competitor to Oracle in the Virtual Machine product offering. Conveniently, Oracle does recognize virtual machines from their offering.  So for example if I have a 128 core ESX Host for VMware and dedicate 4-cores to a virtual host running the Oracle, the license must be for 128 cores. Let’s be honest, VMware is a major player in the industry. The Oracle policy is self-serving and not in-line with the realities of their industry. How many prospective customers for Oracle use VMware?

Blocks of Ten

The software we purchased from Oracle is required to be purchased in blocks on ten licenses.  A few years ago, a reseller sold my company a two license pack (who can keep up with all the rules?). In the course of my most recent conversation the Oracle representative tells me that I can add the two licenses to my existing production license set, but if I want to use the two licenses in a test environment then I would have to buy eight additional licenses to meet the block of ten requirement.  Really? I can add the two licenses to production but not use them in a non-production environment?

The End Result

At the end of it all, I found myself having to switch hardware because of the VMware rule and not giving Oracle any additional money. I was prepared to give them some additional money for the test environment, but they worked themselves out of a sale because they just “aren’t easy to do business with.”  I sure hope someone at Oracle is listening.