If you aren't subscribed to Michael Corey's blog yet you need to check it out. http://michaelcorey.com/  This was a post he did over the summer featuring our Licensing Consulting Services but we'd thought we'd share it with you in case you missed it the first time. Check out his full post below.

Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee

The thought of being chosen for an Oracle Audit brings on moments of panic for even the most seasoned CIO or DBA.  There is a whole industry of companies (Software Licensing Consultants) that will assist you in the event of an Oracle Audit. They will help you try to mitigate the risk of a current audit. Up till now not a single one of these firms would offer you an Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee. That has all just changed, and will be revealed later in this article. There are a number of lawyers who have booming practices dealing with software license issues. The internet is full of stories of companies who have been through the ugly process of an Oracle audit or had to deal with Oracle aggressive sales techniques associated with the audit.

Here are a few examples:

What does an Oracle audit look like? This one certainly wasn’t pretty Computer World January 2016. Here is a quote from the article “Oracle is at least as well-known for its aggressive licensing tactics as for its namesake database technology, and a recent dispute makes it clear that that reputation isn’t entirely unfounded….”

‘I felt like we were being extorted’: Customer says Oracle tried to strong-arm him into a cloud sale Business Insider September 2015. Quote “We just received a detailed report from a longtime Oracle customer claiming that Oracle used some ugly tactics to sell its cloud and other products the customer didn’t want.

Oracle is using an ugly ‘nuclear option’ to boost cloud sales, says consultant Business Insider  July 2015 “Much of the time, an audit is used as a sales tactic. Instead of simply paying a big bill, the customer agrees to buy more over the long haul.

Users warned over ‘aggressive’ Oracle software licensing tactics Computerweekly.com, September 2014. Quote “Software audits are more about revenue generation for Oracle, the report warned: “Senior management should be aware that any Oracle purchase includes a significant management overhead and should budget accordingly.

Beware the Oracle Licensing Traps Software Licensing Report October 2015. Quote “Oracle has received plenty of attention regarding the software audit practices of its License Management Services (LMS) compliance arm and its pursuit of what it calls undeserved windfalls.

Even when companies are in the right, they are afraid to challenge the Billion dollar Gorilla known as Oracle.  Make no mistakes Oracle has a right to be properly paid for the use of their software. No reasonable person disputes that notion.

The problem is the Oracle audit process is not a fair. The Oracle audit process or  license review is a stacked deck against you from the very start. It is my understanding that the Oracle License management service (LMS) is a sales team with a sales quota. According to a user quoted in Cliff Saren article in Computer World   “It is my experience that the LMS representatives have a direct relationship with sales. So it is very hard to trust them with sensitive information. For instance, in a recent licence certification process, I shared a preliminary report which was meant to make clear what types of data we will pass onto Oracle. A while later, those figures ended up as a compliance claim.”  Regardless of who is right, it is my understanding the LMS team goal is to generate revenue for Oracle. This is not about being fair, this is about generating revenue. 

Lets review a typical Oracle Audit Process or license review by the License management service.

The Oracle Audit Process

The Customer contacted by Oracle’s License Management Services group. The Information Oracle request from you as part of the audit goes way beyond the scope of just the servers running the Oracle software . They also provide you software that will assist with the Audit process. That provided software will also look at things way beyond the scope of what is necessary.

Here is what happens next. Oracle threatens you with this big bill for software you have been using that you have not licensed.

VMware Customer Experience with Audit Process

For a typical VMware customer, it may be a 4 node cluster, where the Oracle database has been installed and running on one of the nodes. They contend that you should have paid for all 4 nodes. Since in a virtualized environment you can easily move VM’s from one node to another. (Ironically Oracle does not publish any documents on how you should properly license Oracle in a VMware environment). To Quote Julie Bort’s Business Insider Article from September 2015 ““Throughout the audit we pressed Oracle for a document that gave specific guidelines and expectations for Oracle customers on VMware,” the Oracle customer told us. “We got two answers. One, that the VMware guidelines were an internal policy and that it was not written, and two, that it was a written internal policy that is not available to customers … I was told that it would be too much effort for Oracle to maintain such a document.”

Non VMware Customer Experience

Another reason you might be presented with a big bill, during the license management review.  They discover you were using Oracle software/features you were not licensed for. When you install the Oracle database software it comes with all the features. Its the customers responsibility to disable the features they did not pay for. Its the customers responsibility to make sure no feature that was not licensed ever gets utilized. A DBA turning a performance tuning pack on for a few days could create a huge license liability without ever realizing it. The bigger the environment, the more likely this may have occurred.  If in your environment, you then copy the production environment and push it to test of dev, then the problem just compounded itself very quickly.

The point is, the license Management team will find a way to determine you were out of compliance.  Now you are presented the big bill and a threat if you don’t comply. But they will make the problem go away if….  This is where Oracle puts a deal on the table.

The deal on the table creates a new revenue opportunity for Oracle. Make no mistakes, the Oracle License Management service are very good at their job. They know they are supported by the billion dollar Gorilla that stands behind them who is not afraid to flex its muscle.  No wonder even when companies are in the right, they choose the patch of submission and to pay the additional licensing fee’s. Even if they feel its not justified. The risk of fighting the gorilla is just too great so they justify their action by thinking its good business. The old expression you cant fight city hall, in the future might become, you cant fight Oracle corporation. (With the Oracle Audit Guarantee that is about to change)  The problem by taking the path of submission you are just feeding the Gorilla who’s appetite for more license fee’s keeps getting bigger and bigger. Yet up till now there was no Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee.

Heck its free enterprise and Oracle has discovered a winning formula. Perform an audit, tell the customer they owe you a lot of money. Then tell the customer by buying X dollars in product & services the Billion gorilla Oracle will turn its attention elsewhere.

The VMware Solution – CPU Affinity

By specifying a CPU affinity setting for virtual machines, you can restrict the assignment of virtual machines to a subset of the available processors in multiprocessor systems. The scheduler operation guarantees that virtual CPU’s will not be migrated to, or execute on, a processor outside the configured affinity set.  This behavior is consistent across all versions ofESXi.

To read the actual VMware Knowledge Based Article Scheduler operation when using CPU Affinity (2145719)

Knowing how CPU Affinity works on VMware vSphere can have huge impact on what Oracle is entitled for licensing. In the standard Oracle contract Processor Shall be defined as all processors where the Oracle programs are installed and/or Running. So on a 16 Core system, if you could know that Oracle software would only use the first 8 cores, then you would only have to pay Oracle for the 8 cores, not the entire system. As we move towards hyper-converged systems this becomes more and more important.

Yet even knowing this, a number of organization may still decide not to take Oracle on, given the cost to their business to prove they are right against a Billion Dollar Gorilla like Oracle. 

Software License Consultants – Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee

Now you have an option. You can work with a Software License consultants that provide you with a Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee. 

Anyone who has ever tried to fight city hall knows just how difficult that can be even though you know you are right. Now a company on the west coast VLSS LLC is putting their money where there mouth isVLSS LCC has created a product that every company who does business with Oracle should consider ASAP.

How to get Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee

  • Customer engages with VLSS as Software License Consultants for the guarantee

VLSS License experts review your Oracle Contracts, your environments and hardens the audit information. At that point, VLSS guarantees that the customer is 100% in compliance with their contract with Oracle and how the Oracle software is being deployed.

  • If an Oracle License Management Audit occurs, customer contacts VLSS who step into assist

VLSS had a team of Oracle license experts who interact with the Oracle License Management service. If legal services are needed VLSS has retained the services of Husch Blackwell (a top 10 law firm with offices nationwide) to handle all legal aspects.

  • If it is determined that the customer owes additional licenses beyond our guarantee, VLSS will pay for it

Yes thats right VLSS will pay for it. VLSS has partnered with Berkshire Hathaway to provide insurance backing on the guarantee.

Bottom Line – Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee

By working with a Software License Consultant who provides an Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee is as good as it gets. Now you can take full advantage of VMware CPU Affinity without concern for an Oracle Audit.  Have VLSS do a license review and if Oracle the Billion Dollar Gorilla flexes it’s muscle you now have the financial backing of Berkshire Hathaway to pay for the additional licenses and a top 10 Law firm of Husch Blackwell to cover your back legally.

Best part you know you are only paying Oracle for what they are actually entitled for, no more or no less. Having a third party do a license review is just good business practice. Having a firm who puts its money where it’s mouth is and  provides A Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee with the backing of Berkshire Hathaway makes the choice of who you should use a no brainer. A Oracle Audit Protection Guarantee puts VLSS ahead of all the other Software license consultants out there.


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