Oct 20, 2016

Don’t Get Lost in the (Oracle) Cloud

Have you ever felt the urge to learn more about a certain topic, but were so overwhelmed by its complexity that you didn’t know where to begin? It’s similar to how I felt when the reality of a difficult test approached in University. I would procrastinate preparing for the exams until right before the deadline! Big mistake.

After spending my early career with Oracle LMS, I was eager to get a new perspective on softeware licensing. There’s a lot more to grasp from the outside, since every business that I worked with had specialized departments.

In 2015, I attended the DOAG (German Oracle Users Group) conference in Nürnberg Germany, and the star of the event was the cloud. Not surprising at all. And as cloud pressure increases, customers are sure to be confronted with confusing and complicated licensing rules.

Now that I am no longer working “on the inside”, I’d like to help you be informed and prepared so that you can better manage your Oracle software licensing. So, let’s get to business.

What’s inside the cloud?

According to the online definition, a cloud is “visible mass of small water droplets or ice particles which are suspended in the sky.” Nice and easy, right?

But what about the cloud as it relates to the IT world? In the simplest terms, the cloud is represented by the servers within a datacenter which are connected to the Internet. Of course, the terminology isn’t limited to this, and it can have a broader meaning. But that’s not very visible and it’s certainly not small!

Some basic facts about the Oracle cloud:

  • Now called Oracle Managed Cloud, it was previously known as Oracle On Demand Cloud Services
  • It can be hosted at the customer location, at a partner datacenter, or by an Oracle datacenter
  • The Oracle Managed Cloud was sold on a perpetual basis, or via subscription for between 1 and 3 years
  • Using Auto-Renewal, subscriptions can be renewed and are “automatically extended for an additional Services Period”

Your Oracle cloud contract isn’t fluffy

A contract is the very first step you face when purchasing a license from Oracle or any other vendor. It’s important to know what you are signing and make sure you understand the applicability of all rules.

Of course, cloud contracts are not simple. The agreement that governs cloud license purchases is called the Oracle Cloud Services Agreement (CSA). As part of it, there is also a Data Processing Agreement (DPA). The CSA contract refers to services offered, while the DPA applies to Personal Data Processing.

So, what is new and interesting in cloud contracts? Well, it’s your lucky day! Oracle cloud agreements now offer the opportunity for two different types of software license audits.

CSA – Oracle to Customer. Oracle may audit the use of Cloud Services (such as use of software tools) to assess whether your usage is in accordance with your contract. The tricky part here is that as opposed to the Oracle Master Agreement (the ex-OLSA), in which a standard audit clause exists giving you 45 days of notice to prepare for an audit, the Cloud contract does not specify a term for notice at all.

DPA - Customer to Oracle. The customer may audit Oracle’s compliance with the terms of the Agreement, and this Data Processing Agreement, up to once per year. Customers may perform more frequent audits of the Cloud Service computer systems which process Personal Data to the extent required by laws applicable to Customer. Now that they have the possibility to check how Oracle handles their data, Customers increase their ability to stay informed.

If you’d like to read more about this topic, I suggest you visit: http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/contracts/cloud-services/index.html

How to be on “cloud nine"

Like many other vendors, sales strategies at Oracle are currently focused on cloud promotion. Although Oracle has a reputation of not yet being “mature” in this area, I am confident this will change in the future. In fact, Oracle’s total cloud revenue rose 59% to $969 million in the latest quarter, demonstrating their cloud growth potential.

It’s crucial to pay attention to every detail when it comes to the purchasing and deployment of Oracle Managed Cloud. Make sure you fully understand the Terms and Conditions, and ask the vendor many questions. Once you receive answers, keep them for future reference. You never know when you will need to verify previous information and responses that were provided.

Oracle in the cloud is a newer topic, and also a very complex one. In my upcoming article series, I will talk about cloud models and metrics to help you correctly manage your licenses and subscriptions.

Until next time! 

Topics: Cloud, Oracle