Podcast: Oracle License Management
This is our first foray into Podcasting, so forgive me if it’s a bit rough around the edges.
In this session we delve into Oracle, Oracle Licensing and Oracle License Management.
Thanks very much to our guests and Oracle experts: Piaras MacDonnell, Craig Guarente and Richard Spithoven (their full contact details are below). We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.
- Working with Oracle
- LMS Scripts and Oracle Tools
- Re-pricing and negotiation with Oracle
- Types of Oracle Audit
- Audit Triggers
- Virtualizing Oracle Products
You can listen to the recording on SoundCloud here:
Publication to ITunes and Podcast feed is a work in progress. I’ll post it here once live.
|Host: Martin Thompson, The ITAM Review|
|Guest: Craig Guarente, Palisade Compliance|
|Guest: Richard Spithoven, b.Lay|
|Guest: Piaras MacDonnell, SureDatum
Tools for Managing Oracle Licensing – Coming Soon
I’m in the process of reviewing specialist tools for managing Oracle Licensing. Stay tuned to receive the results over the coming months.
- Flexera Software
- Lime Software
- Snow Software
If you would like to join me on future podcasts please give me a shout. Thanks, Martin
Martin Thompson: This is Martin Thompson from The ITAM Review. Thank you for joining us today. Today we’re looking at Oracle License Management, and I have the pleasure of introducing three gentlemen who are specialists in Oracle Licensing. Today we have Craig Guarente, CEO and founder of Palisade Compliance in the US; we have Richard Spithoven, partner at b.lay in the Netherlands; and we have Piaras MacDonnell, operations director at SureDatum in Ireland.
Gentlemen, I’m going to ask you to introduce yourselves. If you could, just tell us a bit about yourselves and your experience with Oracle. So if I could come to you first, Craig…
Craig Guarente: Sure. Thank you, Martin. Thanks for having me here today. I’m CEO and founder of Palisade Compliance. We’ve been in business now for about two years, helping customers save money in their licensing and contracting with Oracle. Before my time with Palisade, I spent 16 years at Oracle and was in their contracts department, business practices department, and LMS.
When I left, I was their global vice president of contracts, business practices, and customer migrations. Like I said, I also ran their Global LMS team for a while. So a really deep background in contracting, in licensing, in compliance, pretty much anything you bought from Oracle for many years through any venue or any source came through a person or process or tool that was in my organization. So lots and lots of Oracle experience.
Martin Thompson: Great. Thank you. Richard, can I ask the same of you? Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience with Oracle.
Richard Spithoven: Sure. I joined b.lay four months ago as a partner, which is now operating for five years as a license management activity. Before I joined b.lay, I’d been working for almost nine years within Oracle. I started myself as a license compliance consultant and auditor on Oracle myself, and in the last four-and-a-half years I was leading the compliance team for Southern Europe region, which means I had a team of 40 people working in different countries performing those audits.
My experience is that I’ve been auditing a lot of Oracle products myself when I was a consultant, and I’ve been leading and expanding the team by doing other audits on other products, for example, all the products Oracle acquired over the last couple of years as well, and as a result of that gained a lot of knowledge and experience in license management and audit practices for Oracle.
Martin Thompson: Finally, Piaras.
Piaras MacDonnell: Certainly, I suppose I kind of come from a different side to my other two esteemed colleagues. Very much from the infrastructure and sort of management for many years, I was a customer of Oracle’s, and then in the last number of years, I’ve been helping customers, I guess, at the same time prepare for Oracle audits from the inventory and basically figuring out what they’ve got, working for a number of years.
I quit before going out on my own, and I suppose the approach I very much take to this is on understanding what’s actually deployed and the various tools and techniques needed to help you defend when auditors come knocking, looking for more license fees.
Martin Thompson: We’ve conducted some research with ITAM Review readers regarding Oracle Licensing over the last, say, few months, and there were a number of key issues organizations were concerned with. Oracle sells a lot of products, and they’ve also acquired a number of companies over the years as well. In your experience, what creates the most confusion out there?
Piaras MacDonnell: Oracle certainly has acquired quite a range of products, but the commercial reality is 90 percent of the revenue comes from Oracle Database and Middleware. My experience in the audits is typically when they come looking, this is their first area of focus. The reason mainly is that it’s the easiest target, it’s the easiest to measure, and it’s also typically where most customers have a compliance gap.
I guess the elephant in the room is constantly virtualization and how databases and middlewares are deployed on that, which is probably the greatest risk. Other products… If you have Siebel or E-Business Suite, typically there aren’t that many instances of it out there, and very often they have inbuilt license metrics anyway.
Martin Thompson: Great. Thank you.
Richard Spithoven: This is Richard. Maybe just to give some insight on what I know that the LMS organization is focusing on is because the LMS organization within Oracle has a strategy to only focus on eight different products to get their revenue from, because they do their analysis at the beginning of the year as well to see, “Okay, where are we going to put our resources and efforts?” and then “Where do we believe gets the most return of investments from where we focus on?”
So those eight products are Database, including Options and Management Packs, Applications server, WebLogic, Tuxedo, E-Business Suite, Siebel, and JD Edwards. Those are the eight groups where the compliance organization from Oracle, the LMS organization, is looking at.
Piaras MacDonnell: I tend to agree…
Martin Thompson: Sorry to interrupt, but you’re saying of those eight they would change year by year based on priorities, but mostly it’s the databases you would’ve thought.
Richard Spithoven: Yes, well, I know those eight products are the priority for this year. What you see is in practice 60 or 70 percent of the activity is still Database.
Martin Thompson: Great. Okay, thank you. Craig, views on that.
Craig Guarente: Well, the Database, as was mentioned, is their cash cow, so I think when you look at the proportion of audits they do, Database and Options and Management Packs are going to be at the top. I think one of the challenges we face is now that Oracle has acquired so many companies, they have so many avenues into their customers, so if they know or think the customer is out of compliance on PeopleSoft or Netech or something else they may have bought a while back, they can use that as a lever to get into the company. So it could start with Applications but then move into Database.
So Database is the biggest target, but customers need to be careful with all of that, because when Oracle issues an audit letter, what I’ve seen is they don’t say, “We’re just going to audit you on Database. Don’t worry about that other stuff.” They’re going to worry about that other stuff too. Then the other challenge is your sales teams and who needs to meet quota and where are they in their fiscal year? So it’s all implied, but Database is where everyone focuses. It’s the largest target.
Martin Thompson: Right.
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, what we shouldn’t forget is that it also sometimes depends on their coverage within a certain country or a certain region or a certain division for what kind of products have been audited for a while. For example, in my region Database in certain countries really audited almost all the customers in the last three years.
Therefore, the compliance teams had to look on E-Business Suite and Siebel in order to see the combined revenue potential in those customers. So it can vary a bit where the focus is per country, but overall I would still say Database and Middleware.
Piaras MacDonnell: Martin, just commenting there as well, the Database and Middleware are by far the easiest to go out of compliance because of the install model. By default, it pretty much installs everything, and you can just so easily trip up. Something that’s installed but not in use you could easily bring it into use and immediately create a license-based headache for yourself.
Richard Spithoven: Yes, to a certain extent I do agree, but to another extent I don’t, because the reason why the LMS organization is focusing a lot on Database and Middleware is because for them it’s easy to audit, but the out of compliancy I’ve seen for Siebel customers has always been above 10 million. For Siebel it’s also very easy to get out of compliance as well, because they have assigned roles and responsibilities within Siebel where you’re not licensed for.
Piaras MacDonnell: That’s actually a very good point because some of the Interface customers I’m working with, I guess, on the lower end… When I say lower, you’re talking probably where they’ve only spent a few million, it’s typically on the Database, but as you quite rightly pointed out, once you go into the tens of millions, it’s going to be the big products, Siebel being probably your biggest one and JD Edwards following in behind this where you’ll start to find your problems.
Martin Thompson: On the point of audits themselves, you see other vendors doing speculative letters or self-audit. What’s the nature of an Oracle audit? How do they happen and how should you respond and what format do they take? Do you have a view on that?
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, seeing that I’ve been the old Oracle auditor I can tell you how that worked. Typically, what normally happens is that… Do you want to have the story at a customer’s side or also what happens internally, how we come to an audit?
Martin Thompson: A bit of both would be good.
Richard Spithoven: Okay, so at the starting point typically an audit can start by two different ways. On the one hand, it can be because of the fact that LMS has done their own risk analysis, because that happens every year in which they do analysis on their whole Install Base and make a selection of customers who are identified as being high risk.
For example, the Install Base would be scanned on if a customer has old license metrics or if he hasn’t bought licenses for about three or four years or if there have been recent mergers and acquisitions as popped of the Dun and Bradstreet database or that kind of information. If LMS then identifies a customer and says, “Okay, this is a risk,” they can send an audit letter.
The other way, and that is in 50 percent of the cases as well, an audit starts is when an Oracle account manager has heard something or has a suspicion within a customer and he comes to LMS and says, “Well, I’ve heard they deploy VMware” or “I’ve heard they are setting up a Disaster Recovery environment in the new data center and they haven’t bought any licenses for it. We should look at that.”
So 50 percent comes from LMS themselves, more or less, risk analysis, and 50 percent comes from the Oracle account manager and the sales organization that has heard something about the customer and then they come to LMS. LMS then does normally a qualification, so they try to understand, “Okay, how high do we think the risk is and what do we think we can get out of it?”
Once it’s decided to start an audit, the LMS consultant will send a letter to the customer, typically to the CIO and the CFO, where it says, “Based upon our contract, we have the right to audit you. With this letter we want to notify we’re going to audit you, and we want to have a single point of contact within your organization that is going to work with us in order to continue to do the audit.”
Martin Thompson: So every letter regarding an audit you receive from Oracle should be taken seriously. It’s not like other vendors that send speculative, self-audit letters.
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, well, I know there have been different templates being used, but a normal, audit letter would need to refer to your OLSA so the Oracle License and Service Agreements stating, “Clause O, Audit clause, says upon 45 days written notice, we may audit your use with the Oracle software. Therefore, you have now been selected.”
What sometimes happens is customers receive letters from salespeople saying, “Well, we’re not doing an audit; we’re doing a business review. Therefore, we require you to provide this information.” That is, for example, in countries like the UK, you have a complete sales organization called Compliance Optimization License Sales, where I know those salespeople send those letters to customers.
Whereas sometimes the customer thinks it’s an audit, but it’s actually not an audit. It’s a sales-driven activity where sales wants to get a better understanding of what’s the deployment within customers, finding potentially any compliance issues they can commercially resolve without waiting until a full audit of three to six months needs to happen. That can happen as well.
Piaras MacDonnell: I guess, Martin, what I’ve experienced, in fact a couple of them quite recently, you can kind of have what I can best describe as a soft audit where the account manager will have a relationship with the client and say, “We need to do a review here. This is not an audit, but it might become one. It’s best to provide some information now.”
Also, I guess another trigger that can also, which I’ve again experienced a couple of times in my clients, and that is where somebody inadvertently looks for support on a product or option that is just not licensed and they didn’t know this. That will raise a red flag eventually to get through to the account manager or LMS and could prompt a reaction.
Martin Thompson: Okay. Craig, any views on the audit process? I guess you get some referrals or contacts from clients on the basis of an audit request.
Craig Guarente: Yeah, they keep us busy. Oracle keeps us busy. There are two reasons you get audited. One is LMS targets you. The second is your sales rep targets you. That’s it. If one of those groups doesn’t authorize that letter, it doesn’t go out. The thing about Oracle audits is there is an official audit letter, as was mentioned, Oracle will send out to the client.
It’s funny. It doesn’t even say the word audit on it. It says, “You can do a license review,” so I’ve had clients respond. They don’t even know they’re being audited. It’ll say, “In line with your SLSA or OLSA…” whatever document they might have as a master agreement. We call those stealth audits. There is this sort of trying to be the kinder, gentler audit team.
We see it all the time. The audit letters don’t say, “Audit.” They call it a business review, a ULA health check, a license optimization, whatever the terminology is. Whether it’s an official audit or an unofficial audit in terms of that letter having come from LMS, if clients don’t take it seriously and they don’t do all the right things, they’re going to get hit with a big bill at the end. Hopefully, they’ve done all the right things before they get that letter. If not, then you have to mitigate the damage after you get the letter.
Those things… As was mentioned, Oracle will target certain campaigns, I guess, and will target certain industries or countries or product sets, but you will get a letter. I honestly have had customers who didn’t even know they were audited. They even got the final report from Oracle, they sign up with us, and they still didn’t know they were audited, because no one ever used the word. So it’s an interesting dynamic there that LMS is using sometimes when they’re doing these audits.
Richard Spithoven: I believe in line with what Craig says. I believe every customer should at all times first understand before he shares anything with Oracle in terms of role measurement data… He should first understand what he is sharing. What I’ve seen often with customers, and I do agree with what Craig says, is that customers just send you all the data of their software usage to Oracle, not even knowing what it says and then being presented a big bill.
I’ve done it myself multiple times because I have that data, and I think as a customer in an audit, of course, in the end you need to cooperate. You need to provide reasonable assistance and insight in what you’re using to Oracle, but make sure you have a clear view yourself before you share anything with anyone, so you can consider what the consequences are.
Piaras MacDonnell: Martin, it’s probably worth noting here that every pick of information you share with Oracle and with the account manager or the team can and generally will be used against you, so it sounds a bit pessimistic or whatever, but it is the reality. If you mention anything, “Oh, we’re thinking of divesting of one of the divisions,” bang! That’s a trigger. “We’ve just installed or we’re deploying a new accounting system.” That’s a trigger, every piece of information that is shared.
So, therefore, great caution with any member of clients’ organization, from the support desk to the contract and procurements right through to the developers. They need to be very careful in their communications with any vendor but in particular the audit side of the Oracle side of things.
Martin Thompson: Great. Thank you. So I’d like to talk about LMS scripts in particular. Please correct me if I’m wrong here. It’s my understanding that in order to get a good view of what you have installed in terms of Oracle databases and options and packs, you need to deploy the LMS scripts, the scripts offered by Oracle at the Oracle LMS team. And then that data, as you said before, is sent to Oracle to interpret. This is my understanding. Or you can use an Oracle-certified technology in which case that data is then interpreted by that tool manufacturer instead. Is that a correct interpretation?
Richard Spithoven: Yep, it is. So during an audit what you typically see is the auditors ask you to do two things or three things. One is fill in an Excel sheet, which is called an Oracle Server Worksheet, which is actually a list of servers in which the Oracle databases are deployed or whatever Oracle programs are deployed. Then if we’re talking about Database, they ask to run two kinds of scripts.
One is the CPU query, which is actually a query on hardware level, which garners information about, “Okay, what type of server is it? How many processors, how many cores per processor, LPAR, virtualization?” So the whole hardware configuration is being pooled with that script
The other script they provide is a script called Review Lite, or Oracle Measurement Tool. It’s actually the same functionality. It’s a bit different, but for a database perspective for measurement it’s doing the same.
And it actually fires off a number of queries on different tables on the Oracle Database and results into 10 CSV files, which pulls information, for example, at V$OPTION, V$ user table, etc. That information is then normally being requested by the LMS team to be sent by the customer to Oracle. They will analyze it and then will present the report with the results of that analysis.
Martin Thompson: So I’m guessing working with an LMS-certified tool is almost a buffer between working directly with Oracle and getting an interpretation of the data before it goes to Oracle. Is that right?
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, but it…
Craig Guarente: Sorry.
Richard Spithoven: No, go ahead.
Craig Guarente: I was just going to say I’m looking at it from a little bit different perspective, so I don’t think there’s a tool or a script that’s going to tell you if you’re in compliance, whether it’s an Oracle tool, the Oracle scripts, Review Lite, the management tool they have. You have to understand your environments.
You can run scripts. You can run Oracle scripts. You can run… Often your DBAs are very knowledgeable and they have their own scripts, so they can figure out what’s running. You can use a tool. There are a lot of tools out there. You go to Oracle.com, and you find a lot of tools. None of them tell you if you’re in compliance, so I think relying on a script or a tool…
You can use it as one tool in your toolbox, but to rely on it I think is sort of a folly. I think you’re going to let your guard down, I think you’re not going to manage your licenses properly, and then you’re going to get hit with a big bill. Even if you went on Oracle.com and you looked at sort of the disclaimer they have with some of those tools, it says it just gathers information.
It doesn’t do analysis. It doesn’t analyze your contracts. It doesn’t know what country your software is installed or who’s using it or “What are they doing with it?” or anything like that. So the tool is one arrow in your quiver, but it’s just one. I think there are a lot of different ways to do it, and you just need to figure out what’s best for your company or your client.
Piaras MacDonnell: I’m just going to extend on Craig’s point there. Really, when it comes down to it, you have a deployment, which is what the tools are actually measuring; you have the entitlement which is your contracts, whatever the deal you’ve done with Oracle; and then you have the interpretation in the middle.
LMS will interpret it one way, and to be frank, having the expert knowledge of people like ourselves in this call here to navigate you through is really the third pillar in this, because the tools will only gather the information. Some of them will do it very, very well, very, very efficiently, but it’s the raw information. In fact, in many cases Oracle themselves won’t even accept Review Lite for Middleware, so it’ll get you an amount of information, but at the end of the day it will come down to interpretation.
Really, the question you have to ask yourself is…Can I defend if I am hit with a bill? Can I prove or at least create enough doubt that we are licensed enough and that we have enough evidence to back up that assumption? The biggest problem most clients have is they don’t have that information or they handed it all over to Oracle and they can’t tell how it has been interpreted.
Richard Spithoven: What I always say… I do agree, but in addition to that a fool with a tool stays a fool. So a lot of people think, “I have a tool, and now I know what I need to have in terms of number of licenses.” Exactly what has been said already before, if you don’t know what to do with it, if you don’t understand how your contract works, if you don’t understand what multiplexing means, if you don’t understand if a certain table is making use of partitioning, but if it’s a system table from Oracle and therefore doesn’t require partitioning licenses, all kinds of details you would need to understand in order to really correctly establish your compliance position, no tool will provide that. You need to have that knowledge.
Craig Guarente: I like that quote: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”
Richard Spithoven: Yeah. You can reuse that, Craig. That’s not a problem. I stole it from somebody else as well.
Craig Guarente: Excellent.
Martin Thompson: I absolutely appreciate that these tools are not a silver bullet. Even if you’re looking at something like Adobe, which is relatively easy to manage compared to Oracle, it’s still not a silver bullet. Do you have any advice of just about choosing tools or the strengths and weaknesses of what these tools actually do in regard to working with LMS scripts or working with LMS data?
Craig Guarente: If I could just… My suggestion would be look at your environment. Look in what you’re licensed. Look at what you’re trying to accomplish with your Oracle licensing, and then follow a process, a methodology, that gets you to your goal. Don’t pick a tool because you think, “Oh, it has all the bells and whistles.” Is it going to help you? Is it overkill? Is it underkill? Are you an EBS shop and you have a lot invested in Oracle EBS and you have underlying Database included with that?
Any of those tools are not going to help you with EBS. So work out your strategy and then figure out how you get to your goal. If it’s a tool, great. If that’s part of the solution, great. If it’s not, that’s fine too. I’m not saying tools are bad, and I’m not saying they’re the panacea either. They have a place for certain size customers who want to do certain things. So I would always focus on your goal as a company, what you want to do with Oracle, and then the tool will bubble up from there if you’re going to use one.
Piaras MacDonnell: I certainly agree with most of that, but when it comes to the tools, there are huge efficiencies that can be delivered. If you have a huge estate with a thousand or five thousand servers and you’re trying to determine what’s out there, absolutely you’re going to need the tools for doing this.
Yes, it must be complemented by excellent knowledge, and the expert knowledge of both what your entitlement is and also to be able to interpret it. But the tools, though, are really only going to just help you to quickly gather the information together. You’re always going to need the experts to make sense of it.
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, but I do agree with Craig, what he says about the fact that it depends on what your strategy is, because if you’ve heard some won’t have a CMDB that is for, let’s say, 90 percent accurate and you already made a decision that you’re going to expand your data center for, I don’t know… You’re going to deploy more servers and therefore you need to just make an estimation of where you are you want to spend $5 million with Oracle anyway, I’m just saying something, then why would you at this moment in time buy a tool? So I think it really depends on which strategy with which you want to achieve as well.
Piaras MacDonnell: I know. I do understand where you’re coming from with regard to the strategies, and of course, you buy the tools suitable for… There’s no point spending $500,000 on a tool if you only have a quarter of a million in license, but the problem here is the tools are not a once-off thing. They’re used to continually support software asset management, Oracle being part of it. That’s where you get into trouble is if it’s difficult to keep monitoring and managing your estate, compliance gaps start to form very, very quickly, and the bills will start to roll in.
Also, the second thing here is a tool can very often arm you with the information to defend. All you have to be is one page ahead of the Oracle, LMS, and account managers. If you can have just a little bit more information and can defend a position, you’re in a much stronger negotiating position. That’s why I believe the tools are a very important quiver, certainly not in many battles.
Richard Spithoven: I think always if you start talking with Oracle, LMS, or sales, you need to know your facts. I think a tool can definitely be a help within it, but what I’ve seen a lot in practices that people just buy a tool without thinking about, “How does it fit in my strategy?” or without doing a very good RFP, saying, “Okay, what are the real requirements I have for my tool?”
Then they have been confronted a couple of times, these clients I’ve been working with, with the disappointment, because they in the end had a certain aspiration in their head where they’ve never really looked into it that would really put the tool then to deliver, or it has already been sold and then when it’s going to be incremented, it turned out to be not providing what they actually expected. So you see what I see a lot is a lot of customers buy a tool because they are under orders and they need to do something and, therefore, they’ve bought a tool without really thinking how it fits in their strategy.
Piaras MacDonnell: I do take the point on it. I suppose this gets on to what Martin was getting at: What would we look for in a tool?
Martin Thompson: I think this applies to not just Oracle but any vendor. As Craig said and you’ve all mentioned, you actually work out what your strategy is, which means for Oracle and other vendors, what does compliant look like? If we were to show or demonstrate compliance, what does that look like?
And then work backwards from there to say, “What data do we need? What processors do we need? What intelligence or expertise do we need to get there?” That may include or might depend on the environment, might include a tool. It might not. That’s not just Oracle. That’s sound generally, I think.
Piaras MacDonnell: I’d like to follow your point, and this is probably moving back to the scripts rather than the tools, for I have a serious issue with the tools, if you want to call them that being provided by Oracle. They’re inadequate, really. Review Lite and CPU queries are cumbersome tools.
The output that comes out of them, I think it was Craig mentioned, 10 CSV files, and they literally say at the top of them, “This is for automated consumption.” It is not easily read. It is not easily interpreted. There’s no user guide to help a normal person use these scripts to stay compliant. That is probably one of the single greatest criticisms I have whenever I come into having the discussions about Oracle and their support of compliance.
They don’t support it well enough when you compare it to Microsoft MAP and SCCM tools and even the IBM, ILMT, tools. They’re just so far ahead. Oracle is not stepping up to the mark here and providing tools to help clients find out their position, their deployment, and stay compliant. These tools are purely to support audits.
Richard Spithoven: I do agree the scripts LMS uses are only designed for doing audits. They are not designed for doing software license management. Maybe interesting news I’m not sure if you’re aware of, but Oracle announced this week in 12c the measurement capabilities of the LMS script will be incorporated.
Of course, they say it’s not for auditing purposes, and of course, there’s a disclaimer in there, although I think it’s very likely we first need to see how it’s going to look like. You see apparently a certain trend they are willing to consider to build within OEM 12c.
Piaras MacDonnell: It’s certainly a good point. I had read something about it, and indeed it was attempted in Grid Controller as well. I’d be surprised to see if they say it would be accepted in an LMS audit situation. I doubt very much they will.
Richard Spithoven: No. It’s come, because that’s what we already said before. You need to have much more knowledge than only just today that such a tool will provide in order to say something about your compliance position.
Piaras MacDonnell: So note. It’s certainly a good development. It’s moving the right direction at least, because the previous… There essentially were no tools for just lay normal users, for just normal DBAs and IT professionals to give them a view of their deployment, because scripts are just not usable for the normal, run-of-the-mill DBA.
Craig Guarente: The one thing… And I’ll defend Oracle a little bit in terms of what other vendors are doing to help their customers be in compliance. As was mentioned a couple of times, it’s really easy to go out of compliance with your Database. When you buy Oracle software, it’s not like they ship you a CD. There is a URL. You click on it. You can log in. You can pretty much download any piece of Oracle software that’s out there. It doesn’t mean you’re licensed for it, but you can download it.
When you download the Database, all the packs and options are downloaded in the CD pack, they call it. You install the Database and all the options are installed. Oracle takes some heat for that, but I’ll tell you, a lot of clients love that. Their IT departments love the fact that they can just download something and get it up and running and they don’t have to wait. They make some assumptions after being licensed. Oracle is playing to the market there and to their technical market. Who wants to wait for a contract to get negotiated and signed, CD shipped to them?
So there are plusses and minuses. We were talking about the investment you need to make in compliance. We have a client who locked down their web access so no one could get to Oracle.com, because they thought that was going to help them be in compliance and people not download things and sort of didn’t work out for them as they had hoped.
There is business justification to the way Oracle delivers their software and the way customers can use it, and there’s the downside for those folks who don’t manage it. They’re going to get burned at one point or another. They’re either going to pay up front, or they’re going to pay later through an audit if they use things they’re not supposed to be.
Martin Thompson: This leads on to my next point, which is one of the key concerns from our survey with ITAM Review readers, that you can install anything from the website and you can flick an option and it can have hundreds of thousands of dollars of implication you weren’t even aware of.
I think I take your point, Craig, that it’s getting out of the way of the DBAs trying to build things, and I think Microsoft takes a very similar approach. If you’re on an agreement with one license key, they just want to get out of the way and let you deploy whatever you want to do. I get that, but there also needs to be a bit of discipline behind it, doesn’t it? Because this is expensive stuff. This isn’t just a bit of Microsoft Office.
Craig Guarente: Yeah, and it’s not just you turn on an option. The DBA doesn’t know, and they run an AWR report that diagnostics pack is triggered and that’s a licensable event and that costs X thousands of dollars per processor. They don’t know, and that’s the problem. We’ve had, and all these guys I’m sure have had, the client where they go in and they have a discussion.
I remember one DBA. The guy ran the whole IT/DBA department. He said to me, “Craig, I’ve been here seven years. We’ve had that unlimited deal for six. This is the first time anyone explained it to me. Thank you.”
Richard Spithoven: Or even worse, what I’ve seen multiple times is a company hires an external database administration company because they have issues with their database and they want to figure out what it is. So they hire external DBAs. They turn on diagnostic and tuning to find out easier where the problem is and to tune the database. They leave. Two years later an audit happens, and LMS can see it has been turned on two years ago.
They get the bill for diagnostic and tuning. The customer has no clue how it can even use that, and it was done by an external company. In the end the customer is responsible for having the right licenses, but he isn’t even aware of the fact that the external party he hired to fix the issue turned on the packs.
Piaras MacDonnell: I guess my view on this one is that what Oracle has done here is essentially allowed tactical decisions made by developers that have a huge strategic impact. Craig, I’m afraid I can’t give them any defense here. They make it too easy for too low a level person in the organization to make huge strategic decisions and without transparency.
In other words, you can turn on, as you mentioned, tuning packs. God help you if you install
partitioning or spatial and not have a true understanding of the repercussions, and this cascades further when you talk about the virtualization problem where the multiplier effect kicks in and what turned out to be maybe a $40,000 decision at a developer level can turn into millions, and there’s no protection.
It’s too, too easy to allow. I know you don’t defend Oracle, really. You’re just being nice to them at the moment, but I can’t. It’s so hard to spot these things as well. A developer can still inadvertently switch on an option or a pack and nobody knows about it till years later and an audit hits.
Richard Spithoven: It’s a huge risk for customers, and they need to be aware of it. As an auditor in the past, I always said, “Well, in your program documentation somewhere it’s written down if you install that and you will start using it then you need to license it,” which is actually there, but of course, nobody reads that. I do agree from a usability perspective. In practice it doesn’t happen that people realize themselves.
On the other hand, I think we need to be honest that that is also one of the reasons why companies like us exist and that a lot of customers do need to have our supporting order to tell them what it is. From a principle respective, I think, where is the border in terms of what is the responsibility of the customer versus what can a customer expect from a vendor to how easy it is, that certain software where he needs to realize it separately it can be used or not without any technical limitations.
Piaras MacDonnell: There was an interesting point you made there, though, about the fact that just pausing communication… I guess developers will develop systems and solutions. If an organization does not communicate exactly what’s covered in a ULA or what’s covered in their enterprise agreement and don’t do it very, very clearly and unambiguously and the idea of sending around the link to the website, it does not cover it, there is certainly an amount of responsibility that must be borne by the clients here.
We do try to educate them, of course, but very often it’s too late. This is a constant awareness campaign. They need to be among their entire IT team for all the major vendors and particularly when it comes to enterprise software. Small decisions there can have huge ramifications, and they do need to educate their IT teams.
Richard Spithoven: Exactly, and on all levels. So not only, like you say, sending around a contract or saying, “These are the products,” but really make sure the people understand, “Okay, this license includes these technical components/products. These are part of what we have paid for. These are delivered on top of it. Those are separate licensable products, so you need to make sure you can use them.”
I had customers where in my old days at Oracle I found them using GoldenGate, and they didn’t have any license for GoldenGate. I said, “How can it then be that you start using it?” They said, “We have a ULA.” Yeah, okay, but GoldenGate is a company that Oracle requires. It isn’t a part of the ULA. They told me, “I have a ULA, so I can just use whatever I want from Oracle.” Well, then you know where it’s going wrong.
Martin Thompson: I think this is where potentially I don’t think tools can help right now at the moment, but in the future I think if you could have a tool that said, “Dear Mr. Customer, Fred the DBA just flicked this switch, and it cost you $200,000. Just to make sure you knew about that.” I haven’t seen any tool doing that. I think if they could do that, which is probably a bit of black magic at the moment, that would be very powerful to just as a fail-safe just to make sure people are aware of exactly what’s going on.
Craig Guarente: I think you would need to integrate that with some contract intelligence. So someone switched on partitioning. So what? They have a license for it. If I could make a tool that did all this, I would do it. I would close up shop at Palisade, and I’d open up a software company that had this tool. It’s just not going to happen.
Again, I think it was one of the first questions. Oracle is not just a database company anymore. EBS, Siebel, PeopleSoft, whatever they’re going to buy next, Hardware, Exadata, Java, Solaris, it’s complicated stuff. Again, the tool has a place. Where that place depends on is the size and scope of your problem or your environment.
Martin Thompson: So in the absence of black magic and fairies and other such magic, then what is the solution? Is it just a case of educating DBAs and more diligent change management? What’s the solution for helping people address this issue?
Richard Spithoven: First, I would say make sure you really understand what your contracts say. That’s what I do agree with what Craig says. So that is a contractual analysis in detail, because people sometimes think, “Oh, yeah, I have a 6-processor database, so I know what I have.”
Well, that doesn’t really say a lot because that means, “How is a processor defined? What technical components are or are not included in the database? What legal entities are allowed to make use of those licenses? Is it only for the internal business operations or for other companies’ hosting purposes?”
So there is much more you really need to understand from your OLSA, and I’m just listing something here from your license agreement. So did you really understand that from a contractual perspective and from a technical perspective? I believe in order to avoid this you actually need to check yourself on a regular basis.
So really look into, “Okay, what server have I installed? Am I using it? How have I configured it? If I’ve configured it in such a way, how am I using it? Are there any changes in that?” Just do a baseline on the yearly, six-month, or three-month basis. It depends a bit on how often certain things change, but to really do a check yourself based on facts, because that is the only way you can really control it.
That doesn’t mean… Sometimes customers say, “I want to monitor my compliance position continuously.” First of all, I think that’s ridiculous, because nobody asked you to do that continuously. Second of all, it’s impossible. So I would just have a regular interval where you do that.
Piaras MacDonnell: Martin, I would suggest probably something low tech. The first thing I would suggest is IT departments budget for this properly. If you have an investment of $10 million in Oracle products, whatever they be, then you need to be putting aside typically 5 to 10 percent to manage those products. In other words, don’t be trying to beg and borrow from other teams and other resources to try and keep an eye on this.
The second thing I’d say, and the point was just made there, don’t be waiting until the audit hits. Quarterly or at least biannual true-ups to work out what you have will be really important. Another very simple tip here is check your virtualization. Check what servers.
You could even leave out the Windows ones. Just focus on UNIX, because that’s about 80 percent of what Oracle is deployed on anyway and just see what is happening, because that is by far and away the highest risk and the place where the most damage can be done. If organizations did those couple of things, they would avert a considerable amount of the problems they’re having right now. Those would be my suggestions anyway.
Martin Thompson: The next question I have… This was from another key point in the survey research and the feedback from ITAM Review readers. When you go back to Oracle to negotiate and you say, “Right. Thank you for the quote for the renewal. Actually, I don’t need all of that. I’m going to take some items out,” then the quote gets readjusted at a different price so it was the same as when the original quote came in. I think there’s some sort of rule that says you can’t drop the actual value by 20 percent or something. Just some advice and clarification on how that works…
Richard Spithoven: Craig, do you want to take that?
Craig Guarente: Yeah, I guess the re-pricing policy Oracle has… If you look at their technical support policies, the… I’m not defending here. I’m explaining, so don’t shoot the messenger. The justification is, “Listen, customer. You have a nice big discount based on a volume purchase. You’re going to de-support or terminate a part of that purchase. Therefore, you’re not going to get as big of a discount as you got before. So you got a 70 percent discount. You’re paying a million dollars a year support. You want to terminate half those licenses. Great. We’re just going to re-price it. Oracle is going to re-price it, and you’re still going to pay $1 million a year.” That’s the rationale behind it.
So this comes up a lot on ULAs, unlimited deals, when customers buy speculatively. They’ll go three years later, and they’ll figure out, “I had 30 products on this big agreement, and I’m only using 10 of them, so I shouldn’t have to pay this support bill now on these other 20.” Or customers shrink in size. “I had a thousand employees. Now I have 500. Oracle, be a good partner and take some of the pain here.”
There are sort of two parts to this. If you go to Oracle and try to do that, they’re going to, number one, re-price your support or, number two, if you go to Oracle, and I’ve seen this over and over, “Oracle, help me understand how I could spend less on support,” and then the sales rep says, “Great. Run these scripts so I can see what you’re using.” Then it goes off to LMS to do an audit. Often by reaching out to Oracle, you’re going to end up with the audit police over there, so I’d be very careful.
There are ways to reduce your support if you’re really going to terminate all of the products or if you have a lot of little contracts or you’re willing to make a new purchase and then terminate later, you can save over time. There are all kinds of strategies that are out there to sort of navigate that, but what you’re referring to is re-pricing and customers hate it.
Martin Thompson: Is there a way of… I know this is not going to be very helpful for people who are just going through this, but is the answer to actually negotiate before the contract is signed, to say, “I reserve the right to unbundle this at the same price”? Is that possible?
Craig Guarente: Anything is possible in a contract negotiation.
Piaras MacDonnell: Martin, I think it comes down to how much are you spending? If you’re spending $10 million or $20 million and it’s a year end, you can probably get quite a bit of leverage. I think one of the options customers… Re-pricing is extremely difficult on all but the largest of operations, but the option that should be looked at, and Craig could probably comment on this better, is you might want to just outright cancel and repurchase.
If you find the entire deal, not part of it, you can’t really break it up into pieces here, it may be an option you decide, “Do you know what? I bought these licenses. I bought all this product. I’ll just cancel it outright and do a new deal.” That is something that is certainly an option, and very often it’s just a matter of going through the calculations on that and understanding the true impact.
I will emphasize the true impact of doing that, but that is certainly an option. Where re-pricing may not be available to you, a straight new purchase is, and you’ll find because it’s a new purchase your account manager will be very facilitating in terms of helping you through that.
Richard Spithoven: The only thing is if the account manager finds out it is for a replacement, then he can get a penalty internally of five times the support fee that is being cancelled. They call it Cancel and Replace within Oracle, so then this account manager may not be so willing to cooperate with a customer to do so. If they have that suspicion, they will try to not cooperate with that. I’ve seen that a couple of times.
Martin Thompson: I can imagine them also playing the version card to say, “Yes, you can have it as a new contract, but you have to move to such and such a version, and we can’t support that old version” or something. There will be some sort of trip wire, won’t there?
Richard Spithoven: No, that’s not really the case, because if they buy licenses right now, they still can deploy if they want 11 while Oracle still has to 12c or so, so that I don’t really see happening. One case where I’m currently involved is a bit of a legal battle. In order to reduce the support cost, we have a customer who already needs to split up in two different organizations.
They also have a legal entity which actually is not really existing in terms of that there’s really any operation in there. The entity exists, but there’s no business in there, and it’s actually a completely separate entity. So what they do is they are assigning the licenses over to different legal entities.
Then once they have been assigned, then they are going to terminate the support of those licenses that are assigned to an entity which is no longer part of the entities where the software is really being used for their operations so Oracle can’t say, “Well, it’s still one contract,” because legally the contracts are split. That can be an option, but that is a very complex option to get rid of your support for certain licenses you want to terminate.
Craig Guarente: Well, it’s the cash cow for Oracle, 90 percent margins on support, so I think when you look at all of Oracle’s policies, it’s designed to protect support revenue. More than half their revenue I think now comes in through support, and that’s often the biggest line item customers have. Oracle has one or two, and support is always the top. So can you reduce your support fee? Maybe. Are you willing to do what you need to do to reduce it? Maybe. Maybe not.
Again, it goes back to what’s your long-term vision of Oracle? If you’re going to buy a lot more stuff for next year from Oracle but you just want to reduce this one support contract, are you really going to take off your sales rep by doing a cancel and replace, or are you going to find some other solution to get your spending down? I think the answer depends. It’s really difficult, and that’s the one thing Oracle defends up until the end is their support.
Martin Thompson: Okay. And I guess the same sort of approach would be taken in regard to these third parties that provide Oracle support. It’s a case of how do you view the relationship and what do you have coming up in the next…? What do you need from Oracle in the next two or three years or whatever?
Craig Guarente: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean if you… We’ve seen it. I don’t know if Oracle is targeting those folks or not for compliance and audits, but again if you go to Oracle and say, “How can I spend less money with you?” that’s going to raise a red flag, because there’s a sales rep with a quota, and he or she needs to put food on the table. So spending less money is really not their preferred avenue. Rimini Street and all those folks, those customers, should pay special attention to their compliance position.
Martin Thompson: Okay. I just have a couple of more things. I want to use Oracle in a virtual environment that isn’t Oracle virtualization, so if I’m using it on VMware or Microsoft or whatever… My understanding is you just need to account for whatever hardware Oracle is going to touch. So whether it’s a partition or whatever technology you’re using, it’s the underlying hardware Oracle is going to touch that costs the money. Is it as simple as that? How do you recommend clients manage that?
Richard Spithoven: It depends on what kind of virtualization a customer uses, but the most common virtualization technology is of course VMware. In VMware Oracle has that self-partitioning we do not recognize as a technology to limit the number of processors that are required to be licensed, so if you only have six physical machines in a VMware cluster, then all the physical cores, processors, of all those physical machines in the cluster are required to be licensed for every product which is deployed on such a VMware cluster.
So if you have a database with six options installed and used in that VMware cluster, you have the Database and the options that all need to be licensed for those physical course processors. My view on that is, again, what is your IT strategy? What do you want to achieve? If you really want to make use of VMware with Oracle, they could dedicate a VMware cluster.
So just one or two or three servers in a VMware cluster, which you would then need a license for. If you were to comply with Oracle’s circle compliance policies but not making sure you have a whole lot of money you need to pay for a huge cluster to make it dedicated.
Piaras MacDonnell: I would certainly agree with that point. There are a few kind of, I guess, rules of thumb, really, that will help you to stay compliant and essentially maximize the value you get from this. So the obvious ones here are a dedicated cluster, as suggested. The other thing too is don’t mix production and tests ever. In other words, it’s quite acceptable really to have an ESX host where you keep all your data and your tests, but I say to there, don’t let them ever mix.
Martin Thompson: I’m sorry. Excuse my ignorance, but why is that?
Piaras MacDonnell: For starters, they’re usually licensed separately. It’s quite common to have… For production it’s like a 50 percent discount, but for test and QA maybe 80 percent reduction. But the actual other risk is that while things are in development, options and packs and stuff get turned on and turned off and fired up and taken down.
So products are entering and leaving an environment, and it’s much less controlled. That’s actually your major risk, that something will just inadvertently get turned on because, “Hey, it’s just in development.” That’s mixed in a cluster. Think of that cluster as one big machine. Every core in there multiplies by the number of options or packs you’ve turned on.
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, that also depends for me on the company strategy and what they want, because if it’s a smaller customer who has, let’s say, two physical machines in a VMware cluster and they have already licenses on processors because it’s a production environment, it’s giving access to a website, and they have space for it as a development environment, then I would say from a licensing perspective, put it on the same cluster. From a security perspective, you may not want to do that, but that would be the start.
Piaras MacDonnell: It’s certainly a strategy, and as you say, for smaller organizations that’s valid. The problem I have is the controls… Products can get introduced unknown to the… For example, you’re licensed for Database for partitioning, but then development decided to play around with Spatial or decided to play around with some other option and leave it on so the next time you come in the entire cluster now is carrying the cost of that one option that was turned on for either test or development that really wasn’t meant to be left around. It is down very much to strategy.
The other thing to watch out for which I’m seeing happening and can get you into a lot of trouble is failover strategies where you have, let’s say, two or three notes in a cluster and that’s your production, but then they had a separate ESX host they’re failing over to. It’s very often forgotten. That is inclusions licensing, and those cores would be included.
Just because it’s on the machine over here, the fact that it’s accessible and the products are moving between will carry a penalty, so don’t ever mix. Your DR and your VMware strategy must be very much taught about when you’re using virtualization. Also, the other thing too is don’t ever mix editions. Your standards and your enterprise editions are… Again, keep them separate because of the costs really.
Richard Spithoven: If a customer would be able to deploy standard deviation in the VMware cluster, this might often be a very interesting case, because then they would need to count sockets, but yeah, that’s a very specific…
Piaras MacDonnell: It is, but funny enough, but almost any large site I come across it pops up.
Richard Spithoven: Really? I almost never see it.
Piaras MacDonnell: I guess it’s two different views of the world we take.
Richard Spithoven: Yeah.
Craig Guarente: With the virtualization point, I think everybody is saying very similar things, but the first thing I recommend is customers think about it before they implement. That’s number one. We walk them through it, and we start with, “In a perfect world if you’re not going to worry about licensing costs, how would you like your IT architecture to be when it comes to Oracle?”
“Okay, we have this many servers. It’s this cluster of VM. We’re doing this, this, and this.”
“Okay, here’s your licensing cost, your risk, your exposure. Is it worth it? It’s going to cost you $40 million to set up that Oracle environment in that cluster. Is that worth it to you? No. Okay, what else can we do?”
Through that process we explain, “Here’s why it’s $40 million.” I think, Martin, you said in the beginning you have to pay for where… Look at the hardware where Oracle is going to run or is running, and I think with virtualization outside really of their virtualization, and I know there’s a lot of complexity here, the hardware where it could potentially run, even if it’s never run there, that’s always the surprise and the “gotcha.”
Virtualization is always an issue. Folks are using VMware everywhere, and they don’t understand the licensing implications. So you really need to educate yourself before the audit, before you implement, and then it’s a business decision. Is it worth it to do it like this or is there a better way to do it?
Piaras MacDonnell: I have to throw in sort of a silver lining. If you’re in an Oracle ULA, virtualization is an absolute godsend. You can rack up those cores before certification by simply putting on one instance of a Database or a Middleware product onto a cluster and you’ve instantly created 64 or 128 cores of products. So organizations that have a ULA should take a hard look at doing it the other way around.
In other words, how can I put a product covered by the ULA, I’ll emphasize, on all of my virtualization? These are (I’m sure Craig is more than aware of them) optimization projects where you want to get the absolute maximum value out of a particular agreement. You can be hugely advantageous to turn… Essentially, the sword cuts two ways, and it can cut in your favor as well.
Craig Guarente: That’s a really great point, and you just really need to… Again, we’re all sort of saying the same thing. The ULA is an area where Oracle is selling it a lot. They push it almost on every customer, small, medium, and large, and had a count. I think you’ve heard us all. Like some were agreeing and we’re disagreeing.
There’s an art and a science to even counting and how many. It’s not exact, which is why I think we all jumped up and said, “Tool. Oh my, it’s not going to be a panacea.” Even the ULA, you have to think about… We have a client whose ULA expires in May, and virtualizations come up. They have a private cloud with 100,000 cores. They came in and said, “We’re going to put Oracle in here, and we’re going to license 100,000 cores.”
Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about what’s going to happen when you certify and give Oracle a number of 100,000, and let’s talk about the risk now of turning on a partitioning or spatial or something that’s not licensed from them. It’s a great strategy as long as you understand the risks and the benefits and where you want to go with Oracle.
Richard Spithoven: Actually, that’s just want I wanted to say, Craig, because I had that. A customer did maximize their ULA when I was in my Oracle days, and they came with 6,000 processors or whatever it was, where it was initiated 500 projected. I started an audit and I found an out of compliance of 20 million because they had one option turned on in that same VMware cluster. Then if you are not aware of those risks, then you have, in the end, not really to use what you wanted as a customer.
Craig Guarente: I love the idea. I would love to be typing out that certification with 100,000 or 200,000 cores.
Richard Spithoven: Me as well.
Piaras MacDonnell: It’s probably a conversation for a whole webcast on its own, optimizing a ULA and just navigating it, because it’s a whole project. It’s such a huge impact in organization, but it can go so wrong as well.
Martin Thompson: Thank you, gentlemen. We’ve been through some great advice on Oracle today. Just to wrap up, could I just ask you to provide a quick summary to listeners on what you think is some advice on how to manage Oracle more effectively.
Richard Spithoven: Yeah, so my quick summary would be…Understand your contracts. Understand your entitlements. Understand really what you are allowed and what you’re not allowed to do as per your contracts. Then make sure you really understand the goal to complexity, what you’re using, how you are using, if you are using it, and how it’s configured.
Bring those on a regular basis together to create a baseline. Reconcile that, create your compliance position, and take the appropriate actions as per your strategy as a company with regard to your several licenses as a result of that. But make sure you have the facts clear. That would be my summary of what you would need to do.
Martin Thompson: What’s your definition of regularly? Quarterly? Biannually?
Richard Spithoven: That depends on the organization, how dynamic it is, but for enterprise customers, I would recommend to do it on a half year basis. This would be sufficient for Oracle.
Martin Thompson: Great. Craig, what is your final advice on just optimizing Oracle?
Craig Guarente: Thanks again for having me today. This was great discussion. Oracle tells you, if you read their software investment guide… It says clearly it is the customer’s responsibility to maintain compliance with their license grants, so that is my advice to customers. Take responsibility and take control.
Even under audit circumstances, customers have all the data, all the information that is needed to get through an audit. So if customers take responsibility, they understand their contracts, they understand their usage, they understand their corporate goals, they’ve built in proper safeguards, again, it’s not going to be a panacea of someone hits a button and an alert goes off that says, “You’re using something you’re not supposed to be doing,” but whether it’s a year or twice yearly or once a year, unless you have a big acquisition or divestiture or something like that, I just advice customers to take control.
Take responsibility, and use that to their advantage. If you do that and whatever that means for you as a client, how big and small you are, whether you’re buying a tool or not buying a tool, bringing in a consultant, doing it in-house, or however you do that, as long as you take responsibility, you’ll be fine.
Martin Thompson: Piaras, any advice on managing Oracle more effectively?
Piaras MacDonnell: Certainly, Martin. Really, organizations have taken a strategic decision; they’ve invested millions in an incredible asset. They just need to take some time and to invest a little to manage that asset to ensure they get the maximum value from it and that it doesn’t become a liability in the future.
Martin Thompson: Thank you very much for your time today, gentlemen. For those listening today and want to learn more about what you do, how can we find out more? So, Craig, if I can ask you first, what’s the name of your company, the sort of work you do for your clients, and where we can find out more?
Craig Guarente: Thank you, Martin, for your time today. Our company name is Palisade Compliance, and you can reach us at www.palisadecompliance.com. What we do is we help business save money on Oracle licensing and services. We have a few different services: contract negotiations, audits and compliance, our signature service, compliance assurance. So anything to do with your contracting, licensing, auditing for Oracle we can help.
Martin Thompson: Richard.
Richard Spithoven: My company is b.lay, which is a company headquarters in the Netherlands, which you can find more information on b-lay.com, and our company specializes in providing license management services from a contract analysis part but also from a technical analysis part.
So anything you want to understand with regards to your Oracle licenses, what you are entitled to make use of it, but also how you can quantify or measure the use or how you analyze the data and how you can turn that into understandable facts. We support our customers by providing different services, audit support directly, but also through our partners, like, for example, Palisade, but also other partners in other countries.
Martin Thompson: Right. Thank you. And finally Piaras.
Piaras MacDonnell: Thank you, Martin. Our company is SureDatum, and we have clients reduce their self-relicense costs. We focus on Oracle and Microsoft. We’re vendor-independent, and we sell the licenses. You can find out more about us at SureDatum.com.
Martin Thompson: That concludes our Oracle License Management webcast. If you have any questions regarding Oracle licensing, please feel free to drop in to our LinkedIn group. I believe there are over 2,000 of your peers in there you can ask questions about Oracle licensing. Understandably, if you want to be a bit more discreet and anonymous about that, please drop us a line via The ITAM Review website, Click on the contact form there, and please drop us a line anonymously to ask any questions about Oracle, and we can ask that question in the group on your behalf. Thank you for your time, and speak to you soon.
About Martin Thompson
Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.
He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.
Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).
When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.
Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.
Loved it! I hope this is the first of many Podcasts – thanks to all the contributors for taking the time to share their knowledge and experience.
Thanks Rory. Let me know what topics you would like to hear about for future podcasts. More are planned for the future.
Hi Martin, I think a pod-cast on moving to the cloud (whatever is moved: software, platform, infrastructure etc) would be very useful.
Very good podcast on Oracle and covers the basics you need to know. Oracle still remains the trickiest licensing model and vendor to understand whether you have 20 databases or 2000 and arguably transcends SAM as a subject matter in it’s own right. Oracle still has a fear factor for organisations when it comes to
understanding their footprint, and with podcasts like this it helps demystify
Oracle. Once you understand the basic principle of Oracle licensing it becomes
just that little bit easier and the next step is dealing with Oracle and how
they approach audits/license reviews (and a challenge that you should not fear).
Their guaranteed aggressive approach requires a steady nerve and resolve and
you have to develop a thick skin and be ready to push back on their demands. As
the saying goes you need to keep your top vendors close and Oracle closer!
Maybe you could revisit this podcast with an ask the expert session where the end
user community can post anonymous questions (the proverbial silly
Also, if you have not done it already a summary of the process steps of an audit and what an end user organisation can expect would be very useful. All the right
questions were asked in the podcast but to an Oracle newbies we need a simple
1-2-3 process to focus where to priortise.
Great podcast, thank you for the content!
Hi Martin Thompson,
Its Really Superb content and also very useful for oracle license..