Your Guide to Oracle Software Asset Management

A roadmap for opportunities in the deep, dark land of Oracle licensing

Oracle Licensing: Complexity Equals Opportunity

Oracle licensing is so complex that many Oracle customers avoid understanding their licenses. What they don’t know is lurking in that complexity is negotiating power and cost-saving opportunities. This web page takes you on a tour of Oracle licensing land, cutting through the complexity to reveal the opportunities lurking there.

3 Reasons to SAM your Oracle

Get Compliant

Control costs and risks, master complexity, and stay on Oracle’s good side.

Get Optimized

Know what you own and what you use to get maximum value from your Oracle licenses.

Get Savings

Use license management insights to lower costs, save time, and invest in cloud migration or digital transformation.

Why is Oracle so freakin’ complex?!?

Oracle has been around for decades, building new solutions on top of each other, with software leeching into every crevice of a company’s IT environment – servers, desktops, virtual machines. It’s impossible to make sense of it with simple discovery tools and spreadsheets.

This complexity works to Oracle’s advantage. If you’re too intimidated by the immensity of managing your Oracle licenses, then you’ll budget more just to pay Oracle to go away. What kind of a business relationship is that?

Software Asset Management: The cure for Oracle’s complexity

SAM rebalances your relationship with Oracle. It turns complexity into simplicity, because:

  • If you understand your licenses, you can say, “Hey, wait a minute” when Oracle makes an outrageous demand or inaccurate report.
  • If you gain transparency on your licenses, you strengthen your audit defense and make wiser purchasing decisions.
  • If you optimize your current Oracle estate, you will get more value from it.

So, where do you start finding those opportunities?

Editions, options, features, headaches

Oracle products are bought and installed by edition, like a Standard Edition 1 or 2. Because Oracle doesn’t like keeping things simple, it stopped selling SE1 and started selling SE2, with some minor differences.

Or its more comprehensive and expensive sibling, Enterprise Edition.

When you install an Edition, every option, pack, and feature is also installed, even if you’ve installed a modest Standard Edition 1. If you still have a Standard Edition 1, you’re authorized to only use these features shown in red:

There are no technical restrictions or warnings for accessing features you’re not licensed for. So you could accidentally activate an Enterprise Edition feature when you’re only licensed for Standard Edition and not know about it. Then you must pay for an Enterprise Edition, which is an increase of over $40,000 USD per processor.

So, what do you do? Some play it safe, deploying Enterprise Editions when Standard will do. But playing it safe means paying more upfront.

A SAM tool for Oracle licensing reveals your packs’ and options’ usage, showing how they were activated and accessed. If something was accessed, but not used, then it was likely accidental. Seeing usage means you can downgrade underused editions and turn on alerts when the expensive packs or options are activated, cutting your costs and keeping you compliant.

Have I got NUPs for you!

The Minima Rule

How much you pay per Edition depends on metrics, here’s the first to track. You will have to buy a minimum of Named User Plus (NUP) licenses for each processor that software sits on. The minima rule, and it applies to most contracts and customers.

Applying the Minima Rule

Count all your processor licenses and multiply by 25 for an Enterprise Edition database or 10 per server for a Standard Edition. Remember, the more processors it’s installed on, the more NUPs you need for that Edition. And these costs can rise exponentially if you’re using Enterprise Editions when a Standard Edition will suffice. An Enterprise Edition on 30 processors would require 750 NUPs, while a Standard would 300 NUPs.

And who needs a NUP license? All users and machines using the Oracle product – that’s people, barcode scanners, dishwashers, smart urinals, anything accessing an Oracle product must be licensed.

Guide to Serverland – Processors

Another metric is the Processor license. Here are some important questions you must ask about them:

Processor Licenses

Where is your Oracle software installed? For processors, Oracle licensing is about what you could do, not what you do do. If an Oracle software edition is installed on a processor, then it must be licensed, even if it’s not running. There are exceptions, but that’s the rule of thumb. If that processor is in a cluster, then the entire cluster must be licensed as if Oracle products are on each of its processors.

How to count your processor license demand

How many Processor licenses do you need? Here comes the math! For Enterprise Editions, count the number of cores in all your CPUs, then multiply it by the core factor for that vendor, which is available from Oracle. So, if you have 8 cores and 3 servers using Sun Microsystems, that’s 24 total cores. If you multiply that by the core factor for Sun Microsystems, which is 0.5, then will need 12 processor licenses.

Remember: All cores on multi-core chips for each licensed program must be added up before multiplying by the core processor licensing factor. This is Oracle, so all fractions are rounded up.

And your Standard Editions? If you have a Standard Edition, count the number of occupied sockets, no calculator needed because there’s no multiplying core factors here.

Deeper into Serverland: Sockets

A socket is where your Oracle software edition connects to server goes and lets you do the stuff you want to do. Simple definition.

If you’re using a Standard Edition, you’re paying less than an Enterprise Edition. Oracle doesn’t want you to get the processing power of an Enterprise Edition, so it puts a limit on sockets you can plug your Standard Edition into, which means you do stuff less powerfully. This is called “Eligibility.”

But this is Oracle licensing, so it’s not simple. You won’t know if you went over the socket limit unless you verify that the products installed on the server are within their technical limits. Then you know you’re compliant.

Protect your environments from the Wild West

If you made it through that last section without nodding off, you might’ve asked yourself “Why are all those Enterprise Edition options and features installed and could be activated when I only have a lowly Standard Edition?

Two words: Development Environment

You’re allowed to use almost anything within a development environment. You can download Oracle software with a limited license that gives you the right to develop applications with Oracle software.
It’s like the Wild West of Oracle application fun time!

But! Only one person can use that limited development license and you can’t deploy those applications. If you want to use it beyond the development environment, you need the proper license. The Wild West ends in the production environment, where it’s all about the end users in an organization, and so all applications must be licensed.

A professional license management tool, like LicenseControl for Oracle, can drill deep into your Oracle estate, so deep that it analyzes servers to see what’s installed on them, so your Wild West development environments aren’t installed on the same servers as your production environments.

Why? Oracle is a tough sheriff, and if environments are mixed, then they’ll assume it’s all production and charge you licenses for everything.

6 things spreadsheets and LMS scripts can’t do

Oracle License Management Services oversees the use of Oracle software licensing. They run audits, sell software to customers, and use their collection tools, or scripts, to check Oracle customers compliance. But their scripts aren’t perfect. And using spreadsheets to manage your Oracle licenses isn’t perfect either. Here’s what spreadsheets and LMS scripts can’t do.

1. Recognize Underused Editions

If you buy an expensive Enterprise Edition database, but only use a few features, then a Standard Edition would be the cheaper choice. Unlike Oracle’s LMS tools, a Software Asset Management tool can find cost-savings opportunities on editions that you can downgrade.

2. Detect False Positives

Sometimes, you and Oracle interpret your contract differently on an issue, this is a False Positive. There are two directions this can go.

  • LMS tools simply grab data and throw it at Oracle in an audit. They can’t exclude an issue, which leaves you vulnerable to non-compliance.
  • In contrast, an Oracle license management tool would exclude those issues and instances from an overall roundup of licenses to determine compliance. Excluding that instance from your reckoning of Oracle licenses in a software audit finds an accurate compliance position while that issue is sorted out.

3. Spot Accidental Activations

An installed Oracle software product won’t cost you anything. Accessing its options or features will require a license, even if it’s accidental. A spreadsheet can’t show you usage reports. Oracle LMS will show you what’s been accessed, but not why.

However, an Orace licensing management tool shows what’s been activated and used, and if it hasn’t been used, you can remove it to avoid a non-compliance fee.

4. Reduce Maintenance Costs with CSIs

Removing unused products is the ideal way to cut your maintenance fees, but it’s not easy. If you have an Oracle contract with a discount, removing products without recomputing the Customer Supplier Identifiers (CSI) might remove that discount too. Your license might become more expensive.

How about a SAM tool for Oracle license? It performs the complicated computing of the CSIs, so your contract’s negotiated price applies to the resized amount of products. You keep your discount. Depending on your region, you can even resell your unused CSIs, and make some cash money off those unused licenses. Cash money!

5. Simulate Different Scenarios

You’re about to buy some shiny new Oracle licenses. You have a few options. How do you choose the best scenario? Spreadsheets tabulate, they don’t simulate. Oracle LMS can’t help either. A license management tool shows you the risks and rewards of license purchases on your Oracle licensing landscape before you purchase anything. It can save you millions.

6. Contract Management

Keeping track of your contracts is the only way you will confidently know your obligations and entitlements – Oracle won’t helpfully point out an entitlement that saves you money. A tool for managing your Oracle licensing can store all your contracts and usage as a benchmark for determining your compliance.

Let’s discuss Discovery: Your key to detailed data

Oracle licensing is all about the details. Which means more granular data, which means better analysis, which means compliance and optimizations, which means cost saving opportunities, which means software bliss. So, how do you get that amazingly detailed data?


You might have inventory tools, scanners, and executable scripts kicking around, but they usually only cover 80% of the data you need. That missing 20% could the difference between compliance and getting slapped with fees – between overpaying for your Oracle estate or paying a fair price.

A professional discovery tool fills that gap by scanning new forms of usage, mobile devices, virtual servers. It’s like getting new eyeglasses. You thought you were fine, then you try on the new glasses and everything looks like it’s in high definition. That’s what you’ve been missing.

And that’s what complete discovery feels like: You can finally see the leaves on trees or, in your IT environment, the granular data that’s been hiding there the entire time.

Another Oracle software audit?

The software compliance audit is Oracle’s main method for making money. Lots of money. So. Much. Money. It does it by bludgeoning its customers with short deadlines and relying on the frightening complexity of its licenses to make customers pay up. And many of them do pay up, rather than argue against inaccurate audit results.

Here’s how it works:

Here’s how it works:

  1. Oracle demands audit data in an unreasonable time
  2. Running the required Oracle LMS scripts misses some details
  3. Oracle declares you non-compliant and demands fees
  4. You pay up

But, if you:

  1. Archive hard copies of all your contracts and entitlements
  2. Use an Oracle-verified discovery tool and a SAM tool
  3. Know that you’re not non-compliant
  4. Might not have to pay up


  1. You were able to say “No, our contract says we have 45 days.”
  2. Your discovery and SAM tools were more thorough in collecting and analyzing your Oracle’s LMS software
  3. You knew your Oracle estate better than Oracle knew it
  4. You bought what you needed, and saved money

Most Oracle customers fear the Oracle audit, but with a healthy dose of Oracle license management, an audit becomes an opportunity to rebalance your relationship with Oracle. Oracle wants to make money. You want value from your software. Managing your Oracle licenses clears up the complexity, so you and Oracle can meet in the middle.

Will your ULA cost more moolah?

An Unlimited License Agreement is a fixed-term contract for unlimited use rights for certain Oracle products. At the end, you declare usage, count the number of licenses you need, and pay up.

So, it’s not quite unlimited. Which brings us to the nightmare scenarios.

If you’re using everything you can and decide not to renew your ULA, Oracle will audit you. Customers often use software not covered by their ULA. Oracle finds that during the audit, declares you non-compliant, and demands maintenance payments for as long as they were activated.

License management for Oracle reveals what you’ve been using during your ULA.

  • You can see the usage for every installation and activation. If anything is not allowed, you can deactivate it.
  • If you underused software, you know what you won’t need to buy after the ULA.
  • You can accurately forecast your software licenses needs and project the cost, so you don’t double over from sticker shock when the ULA ends.

Two things to think about…

  1. How quickly will technology change in three years? Your ULA might be obsolete in the future and you’ll either be stuck with it or feel compelled to buy more new licenses to remain competitive.
  2. If you do sign an ULA, here’s how to make the most of it: Take the money you’re saving and invest in a SAM tool to track usage, deactivate non-ULA activations, and project your costs when the ULA expires.

We’re not saying don’t sign an ULA – but consider it carefully. A SAM tool that handles Oracle licensing can help you make the right decision and turn an ULA an opportunity.

The truth about Verification

There’s a lot of malarkey out there about “certified” or “verified” tools, so before you choose a tool, here are some Verification truths:

Oracle’s verification recognizes the completeness of data collected by a discovery tool.

A verified tool can be accepted during an audit as an alternative to running Oracle scripts.

A verified tool doesn’t prevent an audit, but it does provide complete data collection in an audit.

Only a discovery tool can be verified. For example, our SmartCollect solution is verified. It feeds its verified data to our license management tool, LicenseControl for Oracle.

Verified raw data can only go so far – if you want to manage Oracle licensing effectively, you need knowledge and expertise too.

A verified tool can inform you on your compliance and license position, but it can’t recognize complex compliance scenarios, like false positives or opportunities to optimize your licenses.

A verified discovery tool has plenty of advantages, but it can’t do everything. If you’re looking for a partner to manage your Oracle licensing, a better measure would be a asking for a product demo to see if a partner is right for you.

Read our verification blog

Java SE isn’t free – what you can do

Oracle Java SE was once free but you’ll need to buy subscriptions to continue getting tech support and updates for JDK 8 and later versions. Previous versions will remain free, but for a limited time.

To understand your potential price tag, you must find all your Java installations, check their edition or version, see if they need to be licensed, and figure out their cost.

Then you’ll have to make a choice. Do you stay with Oracle Java? Go for Open Source? Or go for the Nuclear Option? The better your data on your Java, the better informed you will be, and the better your decision.

A basic discovery tool won’t cut it. A license management tool digs deeper into your Java activations and provides compliance and optimization reports to answer those burning questions about what’s being used and what it will cost.

Check out our Java eBook for what you can do

Know your Partitions, know your Virtualization risks

As IT races into the cloud, Oracle keeps one big, heavy foot in the database market. That means Oracle doesn’t have virtualization-friendly policies because it’s just too old school – which isn’t so cool for your hybrid environments.

As more enterprises shift software and IT resources into the cloud, while still relying on those old school servers, compliance risks will increase for Oracle customers. So, what kind of license will you need? You can start by:

  1. Counting the cores, then
  2. Finding out the virtualization technology in use, then
  3. Figuring out how your servers must be partitioned

Oracle states processor license means all processors on which Oracle software is installed and/or running. We’ll get to that “and/or” in a moment, but let’s say you have a virtual machine that’s running on a host server with 16 cores. How many licenses do you need to buy: 2 or 16?

To answer that question, you must consider three recognized types of virtualization:


Hard Partitioning

The virtual machine is a physical division of resources of one server into several mini-servers. Cores are counted just once and never more than hardware real capacity. This is a cost-effective choice, but only applies to certain vendors.
This is the case where Oracle software is installed and running.


Soft Partitioning

This is a flexible, easily changeable configuration. You will probably want this, but you must consider the host environment to avoid surprise costs.
If 2 cores can be switched to 16 cores, Oracle can’t see that, so you must count all the cores of all the environments: host, cluster, etc. Then all processors on all servers on which Oracle products can run will be counted with licenses.
Oracle can’t know your configuration, so it assumes that all 16 cores are virtualized, so it demands 16 processor licenses. In this case, where Oracle software is installed or running, whether it’s two cores – or all 16 cores.


Trusted Partitioning

This is Oracle technology that Oracle trusts. It’s easily configurable like soft partitioning, but Oracle counts it as hard partitioning – meaning it’s less expensive, but still flexible. So, with two virtual machine cores it looks like this with 2 cores, or like this with 14 cores.

The benefits of SAM for your virtual machines

  • Check and monitor each virtual machine and its virtualization architecture.
  • Detect installed Oracle products and their usage.
  • Simulate the impact on licensing costs and compliance for modifying architecture or trying out a partition strategy.
  • In short, SAM finds cost savings opportunities while keeping you compliant.

Webinar: Our experts on Oracle virtualization

7 beautiful benefits of SAM for Oracle licensing

1. Find your cost savings

You pay maintenance fees on your Oracle licenses and, after a software audit, you might have to buy more licenses. SAM for Oracle licenses gives you the essential overview to buy the licenses you need. Why overpay when you can just pay?

2. Save time

Managing Oracle licenses gobbles up time. In an audit, that gets intense. SAM for Oracle saves time, so your team isn’t lost in the weeds of manual processes. In an audit, you gather the required data, analyze it, and submit it to Oracle, so your team can focus on their jobs, not reactive activities.

3. Get compliant

An Oracle license management tool tracks your software’s usage, revealing what’s being accessed and if it’s licensed. You get granular data, so you understand your Oracle licensing estate better than if you used LMS scripts. You’re compliant and can prove it if Oracle doesn’t believe you.

4. Beat your next audit

Get a faster audit response with more detailed data on your Oracle estate, so you defend an audit, negotiate on level ground, and dispute inaccurate audit reports from Oracle.

5. Automate your processes

Set your license management tool to:

  • Alert you to over usage or non-compliance
  • Suggest optimization opportunities on your databases              
  • Reuse unused licenses
  • Prevent errors from mind-numbing manual entry


6. Start optimizing

A professional SAM tool can find cost-saving opportunities, like:

  • Over-licensed database editions                
  • Find inactive virtual machines
  • Consolidate underused servers
  • Track costly accidental activations
  • Pay what you need to pay for Java licenses

7. Be smart and strategic

By revealing your current and past software needs, SAM takes the guesswork out of long-term software purchasing. You can develop plans for migrating software to the cloud or other digital transformation initiatives without surprises from Oracle.

More ressources for your Oracle license management

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