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What you need to know about Oracle licensing

Oracle’s software licensing can be incredibly complex. The product and acquisition strategy of Oracle in the 21st century have led to a huge number of changes in license metrics, and also new licenses for certain applications. Keeping track of the changes that affect your organisation might seem like an impossible undertaking, especially when 92% of Oracle customers don’t believe Oracle communicates changes properly.

For that reason, this article will provide you with the essential knowledge about Oracle licensing and how it works. There is no need to become an Oracle licensing expert, but this should help you navigate the current state of Oracle licensing.

Oracle Databases

Whilst Oracle databases can be difficult to understand and in some cases very expensive, they are still useful for running online transaction processing and data warehousing. To find out which database would be best suited to your needs, there is a helpful list of databases that can be found in this guide to Oracle Licensing.

Types of Oracle Licenses

There are a large variety of Oracle Licenses, and it can be difficult to navigate the differences between them all, so here is a guide to them.

Unlimited License Agreements

ULA’s are time based, unlimited use rights licenses. At the end of the time period set out in the license, the user must declare usage and count the number of licenses they need, which they will then be granted.

The number of required licenses should be evaluated by multiplying the total number of cores of the processor by a core processor-licensing factor.

This can be specified by using the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table.

Processor Licenses

When the number of users can’t be counted or verified, a ULA can’t be used and a Processor License is issued.

On this plan, you pay per Processor you run the Oracle software on; however Oracle has a special definition of “processor” which may or may not match that of your hardware vendor.

When licensing Oracle programs with Standard Edition One or Standard Edition in the product name, the processor is counted equivalent to a socket.

However, in the case of multi-chip modules, each chip in the multi-chip module is counted as one occupied socket.

There are a number of important things to remember when it comes to processor licenses.

  • All processors should be licensed where Oracle Software is installed and/or running.
    • A processor license is calculated by multiplying the total number of cores of the processor, by a core processor licensing factor specified on the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table. When doing your calculations, round up to the next whole number at the end of them.
    • Calculating licenses depending on how your servers are partitioned can be difficult.
      • Hard partitioning is where a server is physically segmented; taking a single large server and separating it into distinct smaller systems.
      • If your hard partitioning uses partitioning methodologies (such as virtualization software), then only the partitions with Oracle software need to be licensed.
      • Soft partitioned servers need to be completely licensed.

User Licenses

User licenses centre around the number of individuals or devices that can access Oracle software.

The main user based license nowadays is Named User Plus (NUP). This license model can only be used in countable environments. A typical user of an NUP would be an organisation where both the employees and contractors of an organisation use Oracle applications.

There is an older form of user license called Named User, which is no longer available to new customers, but may still be a part of existing customers’ Oracle License Agreement.

Under Named User licenses, a license must be issued for each employee, contractor, customer and non-human operated device (such as a sensor) in your architecture that uses the software directly or indirectly.

Device Licensing

Concurrent Device licenses are defined by Oracle as the ‘’maximum amount of input devices connecting to the designated system at any given point in time”.

Although no longer available, users may still have a CD license as part of their existing Oracle agreement.

Application Licensing

Application licensing is a restricted license that is sold by an Oracle Solution Provider in conjunction with its third-party application package.