Licensing Oracle on AWS? A Word of Caution


Friday, 4 May, 2018

Licensing Oracle on AWS? A Word of Caution

When Licensing Oracle on AWS, we want to offer a word of caution.  Other licensing firms are suggesting that a recent policy announcement is opening a “wide window” of opportunity.  We don’t see it that way at all: caveat emptor or “buyer beware.”


The Facts on Licensing Oracle on AWS

First off, the facts.  The Oracle Cloud Policy or formally the “Licensing Oracle Software in the Cloud Computing Environment” policy (found at is a policy document, not part of your contract.  So, unless you can get that incorporated into your contract or an order document, beware of relying on that policy for licensing purposes.  (And if you do get that incorporated, please let us know.)


Oracle Cloud Policy Grants Extra Rights to Amazon EC2, RDS and Microsoft Azure

Now the Oracle Cloud Policy grants some extra benefits for licensing in authorized cloud environments: Amazon EC2 and RDS as well as Microsoft Azure.  It allows you to license your Oracle workloads in those environments based on vCPU instead of the underlying hosts.  For these public clouds with hundreds of thousands of physical servers, this licensing methodology is safe, low-risk and 100% protected by the LicenseFortress guarantee.  LicenseFortress offers the industry’s only financial guarantee, so you know you can deploy your Oracle licenses at no risk.

But two notes of caution on this:

  1. Make sure you’re getting proper utilization out of these vCPUs. Database servers are notorious for running average utilization in the 20-30% range. If you’re paying by the vCPU, you might have to use multitenant options or run multiple instances on the same VM to increase that utilization.

  2. Have a quick exit strategy. On January 23, 2017, Oracle changed the cloud policy effectively doubling the cost of running in those authorized environments. There is nothing to stop Oracle from doing that again. Make sure you have a plan for moving those Oracle workloads out of the authorized clouds if the licensing policy changes.


VMware Cloud on AWS Licensing Based on vCPU

Now as for the VMware Cloud on AWS, attempting to license based on vCPU in that environment is high-risk.  It’s so high-risk that we do not recommend it, nor are we covering it with our guarantee. 

Others have claimed that since Amazon declared the VMware Cloud on AWS to be supported by EC2 that it counts as EC2 for the purposes of the Oracle Cloud Policy.  One, again, it’s a policy; not contractual.  Two, when has Oracle ever allowed a statement from a third-party vendor to control licensing of its own software.  Anyone ever had to fight with Oracle LMS over using VMware “soft partitioning” to control their licensing requirements?

Finally, when getting advice, check the incentives.  Who benefits if you, the customer, gets into a protracted battle with Oracle LMS?  More importantly, who pays the bill at the end?  If they aren’t willing to back up their advice with their own money, find advisors who will.

We at LicenseFortress are here to help all of our customers get the best value out of their Oracle investments.  Our goal is to help customers minimize their costs while keeping their business processes intact and NOT letting confusion around licensing dictate their decisions.  And LicenseFortress does this all with the industry’s first and only guarantee.  So, let us know if we can help.

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