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Oracle Legacy Metrics – Understanding the Pros and Cons

Thought-Leadership by Brian Lowinger
on November 3, 2015

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For several years, Oracle has offered the majority of their technology programs by either the Processor license or the Named User Plus license. But many Oracle customers still hold licenses of legacy metrics from 10, 15, even 20 years ago that were predecessors to Processor and Named User Plus. Oracle generally makes it easy to migrate old licenses to the current metrics. But, while customers may benefit from migrating their legacy licenses to current metrics, there may be good reason to remain licensed by the original model. Customers should understand the pros and cons of the legacy metrics by which they are licensed.

Named User

For much of the 1990s, Oracle offered the Named User metric. Although the specific definition of Named User evolved over time, a Named User essentially denoted an individual authorized to access the Oracle program for which it applies.

  • Pros: If Named User licenses were purchased via a Network License Order Form, which was common during this time period, there is likely no minimum associated with the Named User metric. If no minimums are referenced in this type of contract, a customer may use the programs across any number of servers without creating a compliance issue, provided the number of Named Users is not exceeded. Because Named User licenses acquired in this way are not bound by any processor-based minimums, they may be especially valuable when used in a VMware environment where Oracle would normally require licensing for all processors in a cluster or vCenter.

  • Cons: The current Named User Plus metric allows for automatic batching between relational databases. For example, if data is transferred from a non-Oracle database to an Oracle database through a scheduled batch process, the front-end users of the non-Oracle database do not require Oracle licenses.  This feature represents the ‘Plus’ in Named User Plus. The old Named User metric did not include this allowance, so the front-end users of a non-Oracle database batching to Oracle would require licensing.  This can greatly increase the number of user licenses required.

Although Oracle discontinued the Named User metric in the late 1990s, it was reintroduced briefly around 2001, this time with a minimum requirement of 10 Named Users per processor for Database Enterprise Edition and 5 or 10 Named Users per processor for Database Standard Edition, depending on the time of purchase. Customers should refer to their agreements.

  • Pros: The benefit of this reintroduced metric is that it has lower per processor minimums for Database Enterprise Edition than the 25 licenses per processor minimums associated with the current Named User Plus metric.

  • Cons: As with previous releases of this metric, automatic database-to-database batching is not an included feature.

Concurrent Device

Concurrent Device was offered by Oracle during most of the 1990s and was discontinued around 1999. Under this license model, customers licensed the maximum number of input devices accessing the programs at any point in time.

  • Pros: Much like the Named User metric, Concurrent Device did not have any processor-based minimum license requirements. Customers using Concurrent Device licenses can deploy Oracle across many servers without having to buy additional licenses, provided they do not exceed the number of Concurrent Devices they are licensed for. Additionally, concurrent use of Oracle programs is often difficult for Oracle to assess during audits, and generally concurrency will be determined by interviews with the customer rather than script output or other measurement. This can limit the amount of leverage Oracle can generate against customers.

  • Cons: For many customers, managing Concurrent Device licenses and ensuring that concurrent use is controlled proves a difficult task.

Named User – Multi Server / Named User – Single Server

Named User – Multi Server refers to an individual authorized to use Oracle programs installed on multiple servers, whereas Named User – Single Server refers to an authorized user of Oracle that is installed on one server. While there are no obvious advantages to these metrics over Named User Plus, there are some potential disadvantages.

  • Cons: These metrics included license minimums that were tied to the number of MHz of a server. Consequently, this license model does not scale well when hardware is upgraded. The number of licenses that covered an obsolete server may not be sufficient to cover its replacement. Additionally, Named User – Multi Server and Named User – Single Server did not include the automatic batching allowance that was introduced with Named User Plus.

Understanding your Oracle licensing metrics and how they compare to the currently available metrics is part of good Oracle license management. Just as there are good reasons to remain licensed by legacy metrics, there are also benefits to the latest and greatest licensing models. For more in depth guidance on how to best license your Oracle estate, click on the banner below.

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