Oracle Licensing Basics in 2 minutes

The Oracle licensing basics may be the shortest guide to Oracle licensing policy for Oracle Database and other technology products (eg WebLogic and other middleware products). You may treat this as an introduction to Oracle licensing.

A. Editions:

Oracle Database is sold in different editions: Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition 2 & Personal Edition.
Weblogic is also sold in different editions: Standard, Enterprise, Suite, Grid.
Oracle has also one free edition for the database called Oracle Express.

B. Licensing Rules

The rules below apply to the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition & the various Weblogic Editions.

License the physical server unless you are using OVM, LPAR or Solaris Zones (or a few other virtualization technologies).
Oracle licenses the database and middleware products by metrics called ‘Processor’ or ‘Named User Plus (NUP)’
A server can be licensed either by ‘Processor’ or by ‘Named User Plus’. Both cannot be mixed on the same server.
A ‘Processor’ license is calculated on the basis of the number of total cores in a server multiplied by a core factor. The core factor for each CPU manufactured by different OEMs is available on the Oracle website.
There is a minimum number of NUPs per Processor to be procured if a server is being licensed by this metric.
Both Oracle database & Weblogic have additional features known as ‘Options’ & ‘Management Packs’ that need to be purchased separately to be used.\
The number of Options or Management Packs needs to equal the number of Oracle Database or Weblogic licenses on the server.
All servers on which Oracle database or Weblogic is installed needs to be licensed. There are a few exceptions – a standby node on a cluster, a server running RMAN or database backup on an external media. These two have specific rules, you should check them more thoroughly before making a decision.
You can get free Oracle licenses for development from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN). But there are specific restrictions that need to be adhered to.
Oracle licenses are fungible across versions – ie. you can buy the Oracle database today and use an earlier version.

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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.