Failed Oracle ULA Certification – Why You Should Get An Expert To Help

This is the story of a failed ULA Certification. Also explains Why You Should Get An Expert To Help!

Bank Enters into ULA

There is a well-known bank headquartered in one of the large cities. This is not a very large bank. A little more than four years before this story begins, they had entered into a Unlimited License Agreement (ULA) with Oracle.

Happy Days

The bank was very happy, the Oracle sales team were seemingly happy too. The CIO of the bank was happy because he could now give complete freedom to the applications & infrastructure teams to deploy any number of Oracle database licenses. The DBAs were happy too, they didn’t need to wait long for fresh license purchase before they installed a new database.

Those were the best of times.

Key Factor into ULA purchase approval

There was another interesting factor that goes into this story:

The bank, while going ahead to purchase the ULA from Oracle had made one more decision: that they would ‘exit’ the agreement at the end of the three-year term. In fact, this was the basis on which the executive committee of the bank approved the expenditure on the initial purchase of the ULA.

(Failed) ULA Certification

Fast forward three years. The end of the ULA term was one month away. The IT team at the bank asked Oracle for the process to conduct the ULA certification. The Oracle sales team were not happy and tried to explain to the bank that it will be nice if they do a ULA Renewal. After all the team wanted to get revenue for Oracle and large commissions for themselves.

But the bank was very clear in their decision to exit or certify the ULA. The Oracle team handed over the account to their LMS / GLAS team members to conduct and conclude the ULA certification process.

The bank was given a questionnaire and a spreadsheet to fill up. This spreadsheet – called the Oracle Server Worksheet – had fields for getting information on the entire server hardware & datacentre deployment architecture, specific information regarding Oracle installations. The Oracle team also asked for details on the entire virtualization architecture at the bank.

The bank very happily gave all the information. After all, they knew exactly what had been installed, when it had been installed and what it was being used for.

They calculated the number of licenses and were very happy that they had made good use of the investment. The actual numbers of licenses were not very large, but it was large enough to justify the initial investment.

Oracle Response & ULA Certification Audit

Initial Meeting

The LMS/GLAS team got back to the bank after a few weeks of reviewing the declaration. The Oracle LMS team asked for a meeting with the bank. In the meeting they asked the following few questions:

  • They wanted to run scripts on a few selected servers.
  • They asked if details of all the Oracle deployments had been provided.
  • They asked if any cloud deployments had been made.

The bank was okay to run scripts. They also informed Oracle that all details had been given and there were no cloud deployments.

License Calculations by Oracle LMS/GLAS – the bank in a state of shock

After the meeting the Oracle LMS/GLAS team came back with the following:

  • A potential grant of upto 20% of the expected license numbers for a set of 3 products in the ULA
  • A potential grant of ‘zero’ of the expected license for a set of 2 products in the ULA
  • A potential ask of additional license for 2 products not in the ULA. The license ask was for the total number of cores across the virtualized environment. The value of this was about 10 times the value of the originally proposed ULA renewal price.

Apart from this, they still wanted to run the scripts on a few selected servers. This is when the bank started realizing Oracle ULA Certification was failing badly and started understanding the question “Why You Should Get An Expert To Help”

What happened next – Bank Renewed the ULA

The bank started having discussions with the account manager. He now seemed very friendly and nice. Wanted to help the bank not spend so much money.

He even offered a discount on the ULA Renewal proposal price.

The bank, in its judgement, felt it is better to renew rather than fight a longish battle that might lead to a larger cash outgo.

When did we get involved?

The bank called us in a few months later because Oracle had approached them again for another license compliance matter. During this engagement we also looked at the ULA renewal, and to our NO surprise, found that the Oracle team had given a draft report that had a lot of possible mistakes in interpretation. There were also quite a few mistakes made by the bank in their declaration. We explained these points to the bank.

While the bank realized that they could have done things differently, the time was now past.

Luckily for the bank, we are now working with them and expect to help them take a better decision two years later during the next ULA Certification /Renewal phase.

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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.