Story Source and Credit: Gavin Clarke, The Register
First Published: 24th February 2016
Oracle has been telling a number of organisations running its database software that they are breaking the company’s licensing rules – and therefore owe it millions of dollars in unpaid licence fees.
The issue hit the headlines in January after US confectionery giant Mars took Oracle to court in the US over claims Mars had broken the rules. Mars had been audited by Oracle and developed a response plan with compliance specialist Palisade Compliance. The case settled before going to trial.
Dave Welch, chief technology officer and chief evangelist of House of Brick Technologies assessing the case, estimated a $100m spend by Mars on Oracle over a three year period – covering license, software update and support.
Mars was fighting a claim by Oracle that could, conservatively speaking, have doubled that – according to Welch.
But that’s nothing. The Register understands Oracle has gone to customers with claims five times that figure. One contact at a major channel reseller partner told The Reg he is encountering more and more customers running VMs being charged by Oracle for their entire estate.
“Life is very interesting for lots of customers,” our source said.
Not all Oracle database users are at risk; it’s those running Oracle’s premier database in conjunction with VMware’s virtualization software. Given VMware is the largest virtualization spinner and Oracle is the single largest relational database provider, however, the space for conflict in this Venn-style overlap is massive.
The reason Oracle is targeting the VMware base is Oracle does not accept VMware’s world view on licensing, and therefore its definition, of hardware partitioning. An Oracle partitioning document, here, shows Oracle only accepts Solaris Containers, IBM’s LPAR and Fujitsu’s PAR. VMware is not on the list of hard partitioning partners.
Since VMware’s release of vSphere 5.1 in August 2012, Oracle has insisted that you cannot simply license its database to a given number of virtual machines. Rather, you must license your entire server estate, on the basis that you have the potential to run Oracle on all those servers and cores, should you wish.
That could mean servers in the same room or servers in data centres on opposite sides of the world.
The problem is that most VMware users are simply unaware of Oracle’s rules, or are buying into VMware’s definition – and world view – of what’s possible and what’s allowed.