Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 – A Monumental Change to Oracle Licensing

September 29, 2015
Editorial Staff

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Editorial Staff

Frequent updates to Oracle’s license policies are nothing unusual. Customers have become used to them and learned to live with them. But the change that Oracle made on September 1, 2015 by releasing an updated Global Technology pricelist is one of the most significant in recent memory; it will have a significant financial impact for a lot of small to medium sized customers.

That change is the recent release of Oracle Database Standard Edition 2, which will replace both Oracle Database Standard Edition and Standard Edition One from 12.1.0.2 onwards.

Oracle’s Motivation and Impact

The retirement of Oracle Database Standard Edition and Standard Edition One indicates that Oracle believes it no longer has to compete in the low-end marketplace with its core database product, and further, that alienating existing Standard Edition customers will not negatively impact its revenue. The restrictions that have been put in place for Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 will force customers to either focus on Enterprise Edition or to move away from Oracle.

The Oracle Cloud Policy has not yet been updated with Standard Edition 2, so to entertain speculation: the new license policies could also be Oracle’s way of pushing their small and medium sized customers towards the cloud.

In terms of technical components included, there is no difference between the features of Standard Edition 2 and those of Standard Edition. Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) will remain a free component of Standard Edition 2. In terms of licensing, however, there are some very significant changes.

Limiting the Number of CPU Sockets in a Server

One of the main differences between licensing Oracle Database Standard Edition and Standard Edition One was the maximum capacity of the database server in terms of CPU sockets.

Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 is only allowed to run on a server with a maximum capacity of 2 sockets, so it matches Standard Edition One in that regard. RAC, however, was not available for Standard Edition One. In Standard Edition 2, it is included as long as the total number of sockets within the cluster does not exceed two. So the only allowed configuration would be a cluster of two one-socket servers with Standard Edition 2 plus RAC running on them.

Customers who are currently fully utilizing the 4-socket-limit of Oracle Database Standard Edition will have to downsize their infrastructure to 2-sockets when upgrading to 12.1.0.2. If that is not possible, the only option left is a very expensive upgrade to Oracle Database Enterprise Edition.

Limit the Number of CPU Threads

Traditionally, Oracle has not implemented technical limitations in its software to ensure compliance with its licensing rules. However, a Standard Edition 2 database will not utilize more than 16 CPU threads at any time, even if it has more threads available. In a RAC environment, each Standard Edition 2 database will utilize a maximum of 8 CPU threads. Oracle Database Standard Edition and Standard Edition One had no such limitations.

Named User Minimums

When licensing Oracle Database Standard Edition or Standard Edition One by Named User Plus (NUP), the minimum had always been five. That allowed customers to utilize the entry-level Oracle database products at a very economic price. That minimum has now been raised to 10 NUP licensesper server for Oracle Database Standard Edition 2, making it significantly more expensive than the previous editions.

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