10 Questions to choose Oracle License Management Consultant

Selecting an Oracle License Management Consultant can be a challenging task. We give you some questions & pointers that you should be asking the consultants or firms:

1. Is the consultant / consulting firm an Oracle license reseller?

While Oracle resellers often offer Software Asset Management (SAM) services, their primary focus is on selling additional licenses. This can lead to potential conflicts of interest when it comes to providing unbiased advice on license optimization and compliance.

Here’s why:

  • Incentive to Find Non-Compliance: Resellers often earn commissions based on the number of licenses they sell. This can incentivize them to aggressively identify potential non-compliance issues, even if they are minor or debatable, to justify recommending additional purchases.
  • Informing Oracle: Resellers are obligated to report instances of non-compliance to Oracle, which can trigger costly audits and license penalties for the customer.

2. Is the consultant / consulting firm an Oracle implementation partner?

Many Oracle implementation partners offer Oracle License Management Consultant services alongside their core offerings. Like license resellers, they emphasize their ability to help clients understand license usage and optimize deployments.

However, potential conflicts of interest arise due to the nature of the partner relationship with Oracle. Implementation partners rely on Oracle for project opportunities, technical support, and assistance with application configuration. This dynamic can create a tension between providing unbiased license management advice and maintaining a strong relationship with Oracle. While partners may possess valuable technical expertise, their dependence on Oracle can incentivize them to prioritize identifying non-compliance issues to secure future opportunities.

3. Does the consultant / consulting firm negotiate on behalf of Oracle or promise you a ‘good price’ from Oracle?

The landscape of Oracle partnerships is evolving, with a new breed of “compliance specialists” emerging in recent years. These entities differ from traditional resellers; they don’t directly sell licenses but operate through other Oracle partners or the Open Market Model. Their primary revenue stream stems from successful resolution of non-compliance issues.

While these specialists may tout their independence, concerns arise regarding potential biases and conflicts of interest. These specialists might be the most dangerous amongst the firms who have any relationship with Oracle:

  • Incentive to Identify Non-Compliance: Their financial model is directly tied to uncovering non-compliance, potentially leading to a focus on identifying issues, even if minor or debatable, to secure lucrative resolution deals.
  • Opaque Relationships: Their partnerships with Oracle can be complex and opaque, raising questions about the extent of their influence and access to sensitive compliance information.

Therefore, while these specialists may offer valuable expertise in navigating Oracle compliance, it’s crucial to exercise caution and consider potential conflicts of interest when seeking their guidance. Carefully evaluate their track record, client testimonials, and relationship with Oracle to ensure they prioritize your best interests and transparently address any potential biases.

4. Do you publish client names associated with Oracle license management services?

We believe compliance audits are sensitive matters and should not be publicized. Maintaining client confidentiality is paramount to us.

This safeguards against several potential issues:

  • Confidentiality Breach: Publicly identifying audit clients can erode trust and violate confidentiality agreements.
  • Targeted Audits: Highlighting past compliance issues may inadvertently draw unwanted attention from Oracle or other publishers, potentially triggering follow-up audits.
  • Misrepresentation: Complexities often surround compliance matters. Publicly presenting simplified narratives may misrepresent the situation and unfairly impact the client’s reputation.

5. Does the consultant / firm have Expertise Sufficient for Accurate Oracle License Discovery?

Conducting thorough and accurate Oracle license audits requires navigating complex usage patterns and potential discrepancies between intended and actual software utilization. Oracle’s dynamic feature activation can inadvertently trigger licensing implications, highlighting the crucial role of expertise of the consultants.

While readily available tools offer valuable insights into installation and usage data, they often fall short of providing definitive compliance answers. This is because:

  • Customization and Configuration: Each Oracle environment is unique, shaped by specific deployment configurations, disaster recovery plans, cloning for development/testing instances.
  • Forensic Data Analysis: Ability to meticulously analyse usage data and configuration settings, identifying potential non-compliance areas.
  • Feature Interdependencies: Complex interdependencies between features make it challenging to isolate license implications through purely automated means.

Therefore, skilled consultants play a crucial role in:

  • Contextualizing usage data: Interpreting raw information within the specific context of your deployment environment.
  • Identifying hidden features: Unearthing potential license implications associated with inadvertently activated features.
  • Assessing compliance risks: Evaluating the potential consequences of identified software usage patterns.

6. Does the consultant understand Oracle’s licensing policies and contracts?

Any contract is tough to understand, and in Oracle’s case the multiplicity of contracts, agreements, licensing guides and non-contractual documents makes it extremely complex.

Oracle License Audits and compliance reviews are not truly collaborative. The effort made by the Oracle LMS and sales teams  are to find violations to the license agreement. Once violations are found, their next job is to make you comply at any cost. And, the biggest mistake that organizations make is not understanding their licensing obligations and rights. A small mistake in deployment or not understanding the contracts can lead to millions of dollars of ‘alleged’ non-compliance.

Your consultant should be able to guide you through the minutest details of an Oracle agreement or contract. The consultant should have a thorough understanding of the historical and latest license policies of Oracle.

7. Does the consultant understand Oracle’s business practices?

After contracts, this is the next big thing in Oracle’s license audits. Oracle’s Business Practices.

Oracle’s corporate business practices and the LMS (and Sales) teams engagements vary across different markets. Oracle negotiations are often rushed, filled with tension, and littered with threats from aggressive sales and Oracle auditing personnel.

This is where the experience and knowledge of your consultant comes into play.  The consultant should be aware of Oracle’s business practices intimately and be able to help you put Oracle on the block rather than march to their beat.

8. What is the track record in license optimization?

Oracle license management is about:

  • Compliance &
  • Optimization

Optimization has many aspects that need to be looked into – remediation of non-compliant deployments as well as rebalancing the deployment architecture are crucial.

Your consultant needs to be a technologist who understands licensing and contracts.

9. What is the consultant’s stand on reducing Oracle’s non-compliance claims?

This is an interesting point. While all Oracle License Management Consultants claim they reduce costs, the truth is quite different. The reason for this is the relationship between Oracle & the consultant as well as their working principles.

We have multiple engagements where we have reduced the non-compliance claims to zero or almost zero. Our principles are:

  • Oracle is entitled to every contractual claim if it is accurate.
  • Inadvertent usage should be tackled differently than deliberate non-compliance. Inadvertent usage can be proved by data analytics.

It is important to understand whether the consultant is more interested in searching for non-compliance that can be reported to Oracle or reducing your non-compliance.

10. References

Well, this seems to be a no-brainer. But it can be conflicting with the ‘no customer names on the website’!!!

We advise customers to speak to other customers who have worked with specific consultants. They will be able to give you critical feedback on the capabilities and work ethics of the consultant.

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Sheshagiri helps companies reduce Software License & Support costs through deployment optimization and risk management in software license compliance audits. His core skills are Software License Management, Enterprise Software Sales & Sales Management.

Sheshagiri is, currently, the Managing Partner & Principle Licensing Advisor at Rythium Technologies. Prior to this, he was a Vice-President in Oracle Corporation.