Oracle on Amazon RDS: licensee beware (Part 1)

Tuesday, 23 February, 2021

It sounds like a great deal at first: spin up a fully-managed Oracle database instance with the license cost already baked in. And in a lot of ways, it can be a good deal. Take a look at the expense of managing the database, doing backups & patching, plus the hardware and software, and Oracle on Amazon RDS can be a great deal. But as always, be careful about the details.

When you spin up a new Oracle RDS instance, Amazon does not put the relevant terms and conditions in the workflow. Those were all included when you first signed up for an Amazon AWS account. The current version is available here, but the relevant language is in Section 10.3: Amazon Relational Database Service for Oracle. There are a number of generic terms, but an interesting list of restrictions, including:

“You may not:

  • Assign, grant, or transfer the Oracle Software or any interest in the Oracle Software to another individual or entity, and if you purport to grant a security interest in the Oracle Software, the secured party will have no right to use or transfer the Oracle Software;
  • Use the Oracle Software for rental, timesharing, subscription services, hosting, or outsourcing;
  • Remove or modify any notice of Oracle’s or its licensors’ proprietary rights;
  • Make the Oracle Software available in any manner to any third party for use in the third party’s business operations;
  • Duplicate, reverse engineer (unless required by law for interoperability), disassemble or decompile the Oracle Software (including by reviewing data structures or similar materials produced by the Oracle Software); or
  • Publish any results of benchmark tests run on the Oracle Software.”

We’ve recently seen Oracle License Management Service (LMS) auditors take aggressive stances on these Amazon RDS license-included instances. If they ask for additional details, such as whether the database is customer-facing, you should be on guard. The LMS rep is asking for details that may (will?) be used against you.

Note: in our opinion, this doesn’t mean those license-included Oracle databases can’t be used for customer-facing applications. It just means that you need to be careful and prepared even in these seemingly covered scenarios. And if you have any questions or concerns, we’re here to help.

Read part 2 here