VMware on Oracle

The only methods Oracle most consistently accepts are through the use of segmentation capabilities outside of VMware’s internal software controls

Most of Oracle’s licensing policies are somewhat loosely documented. This seems to be driven by the level of granularity they use within their licensing rules. If they documented all rules in full details, they may then need to change the licensing rules documents quite often because they tend to get quite granular in the specifications per the situation.

Therefore, it is easier to have a top-level policy that remains the same and sets the tone, but then have unwritten interpretations that can change as technologies change. Unfortunately, that does not make it easier for organizations that are trying to deploy by Oracle’s licensing rules.

We state “interpretations” because Oracle’s longstanding policy simply states that they do not recognize VMware’s ability to partition server resources. Prior to April 2014, Oracle allowed a VMware ESX cluster to be the licensing boundary, requiring that any Oracle technology products running within a single ESX cluster had to be licensed utilizing the full processing footprint of all nodes within the cluster regardless of the VMware configuration.

In April of 2014, Miro began to notice that Oracle was asking some additional questions during their License Management Services/Global Licensing and Advisory Services Audits. When Miro subsequently investigated the trend with Oracle LMS/GLAS we identified a new Oracle “interpretation” for licensing that was a result of new features of vSphere 5.x.

Updates to VMware vSphere 5.x introduced the ability to vMotion between ESX clusters, and due to the additional functionality, Oracle began requiring clients to license entire vCenters regardless of how the VMware was configured. This had essentially raised the licensing boundary from the VMware ESX cluster to the VMware vCenter, which could include ESX clusters that do not run Oracle at all yet still need to be licensed according to Oracle’s expectations. This was further complicated when VMware released vSphere 6.x, which adds the ability to vMotion between vCenters. The additional functionality further extends the licensing boundary to essentially the entire VMware environment.

It is common for clients to have VMware clusters tied to the same disk subsystem with some of those clusters not running Oracle. However, if all of the clusters have access to the same LUNs (i.e., the same data) within that disk subsystem then it is clear why Oracle would think it to be very easy to vMotion from an Oracle cluster to a non-Oracle cluster and be up and running quickly.

What is expected by Oracle?

Oracle desires for clients to implement configurations that they are certain cannot be altered under any software event failure that leaves usage open to unauthorized potential access. Such potential access could allow more users to use more Oracle software than the organization is licensed to support. Oracle officially does not recognize the various configuration features that VMware supplies to pin and control usage.

Therefore, the only methods Oracle most consistently accepts are through the use of segmentation capabilities outside of VMware’s internal software controls. Oracle wants to be comfortable that users are prevented from accessing software they are not licensed to use, which is why capturing log activity is not sufficient as it does not restrict access and only monitors it. The use of external access controls does not make it impossible for someone to change the configuration, but it requires several additional steps to be taken to make changes.

The required segmentation methods are focused around both vMotion networks and around storage technologies like SAN. The specific configurations will vary based on the particular business needs, license metrics and Oracle software involved. Technologies like vSAN are not recognized for segmentation purposes as it is still VMware software-controlled.

Some organizations may feel that the VMware product itself is being solely targeted for such requirements, but that is not actually the case. Oracle’s requirements around virtualization are NOT strictly reserved for VMware. Oracle has a very similar approach to OVM with Live Migration features enabled (Oracle’s own supported software), and IBM Power servers regarding Live Partition Mobility capabilities, as well as Live Migration in Hyper V from Microsoft.

During an Oracle LMS/GLAS audit, proof of physical segmentation will be required in the form of questions and answers, diagrams, and screenshots, as evidence of acceptable hard partitioning configuration within the VMware environment that is running Oracle software.

Need Help or Have Questions?

Miro can help you with your Oracle products running with VMware.  We can let you know if you are in compliance, help you configure your systems to save on costs, and help negotiate on your behalf with Oracle in the case of an audit.  Contact us using the information below to learn more.

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