Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cost Control: Oracle Database Licensing

Cost Control: Oracle Database Licensing

Oracle has a very interesting suite of software, which has traditionally been available across many platforms, and supported by a majority of enterprise software applications. The "Oracle Standard" license agreements offer significant cost savings for Oracle licensing costs, but there are significant restrictions that must be adhered to.

License Agreement Changes: March 16, 2009

The database license terms have changed end of Q1 2009 regarding POWER and non-listed multi-core CPU's, where core is considered a socket. Extracted below are the Intel x64, POWER, and SPARC processors on the Oracle Core Processor Table pdf...
Factor Vendor/Processor
0.25 SUN T1 1.0GHz and 1.2GHz (T1000, T2000)
0.50 SUN T1 1.4GHz (T2000)
0.50 Intel Xeon 74xx or 54xx multi-core series (or earlier); Intel Laptop
0.75 SUN UltraSPARC IV, IV+, or earlier
0.75 SUN UltraSPARC T2, T2+ Multicore
1.00 IBM SystemZ
1.00 All Single Core Chips
1.00 All other Multi-Core Chips
When we read the March 16, 2009 database licensing pdf
Database Metrics
The Oracle Standard Edition One, Standard Edition and Enterprise Editions of the database can be licensed using the Named User Plus metric or the Processor metric...

Named User Plus:
Standard Edition... The Real Applications Clusters option is not included with any Standard Edition versions prior to 10g. Customers who participate in Oracle's Update Subscription Service for the Standard Edition Database can upgrade to the 10g version of the product for the supported licenses. Also, Customers must use Oracle Cluster Ready Services as the clusterware; third party clusterware is not supported, AND Customers must use Oracle Automatic Storage Management to manage all data.

Processor: When licensing Oracle programs with Standard Edition One or Standard Edition in the product name, a 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.
Cost Savings Opportunities

Perhaps the best opportunity to restrain costs is to leverage the "Standard Edition" licenses with the Processor metrics, rather than the "Enterprise Edition" licenses. The "Standard Edition" licenses can be used to leverage 2 and 4 socket platforms. If more capacity is needed, additional "Standard Edition" licenses can be leveraged with 10g, using clustering (keep in mind, a linear performance increase is not to be anticipated, with the additional overhead of SGA cache sync'ing over a slow inter-node interconnect.)

Cost Savings Caveats

While this seems like an excellent opportunity for cost savings and platform consolidation, this may not necessarily be the case, depending on the CPU architecture that was chosen. Note the clause on the Database Licensing pdf...
in the case of multi-chip modules, each chip in the multi-chip module is counted as one occupied socket
What is the implication to this?

The majority of multi-core CPU's on the market are all Multi-Chip Modules!

If you are running a POWER or Intel x64 multi-core processor, most of these chips would mean that the core must be counted as a socket.

Examples of Multi-Chip Modules (this is not exhautive) includes:
  • Early Intel Quad-Core MCM (where Intel glued 2 dual-core chips onto the same package)

  • IBM POWER5 MCM with four processors and four 36 MB external L3 cache dies on a ceramic multi-chip module
In effect, single socket quad core multi-chip modules would count as 4 socket machines in Oracle licensing terms.

If the business is trying to save money implementing Linux on Quad-Core processors, it it important to understand whether they are Multi-Chip Modules or not. If this is the case, then the business may need to resort to single socket systems, tied together in a grid, or choose a different CPU architecture that does not require Multi-Chip Modules like some modern SPARC processors.

Oracle is always the best place to go, in order to clarify some of these odd license stipulations.

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