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 cost 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.
Oracle uses a policy document to allow for licensing in Amazon EC2 and RDS: Licensing Oracle Software in the Cloud Computing Environment. That is of itself is a problem because Oracle has and will change the policy without any notice. They just did it again earlier this month, so make sure you download a copy of the policy when you spin up the instances for Oracle.
But the warning for today is around the sizing of the environments. Per the policy:
“Under this cloud computing policy, Oracle Database Standard Edition may only be licensed on Authorized Cloud Environment instances up to 16 Amazon vCPUs or 16 Azure vCPUs. Oracle Standard Edition One and Standard Edition 2 may only be licensed on Authorized Cloud Environment instances up to eight Amazon vCPUs or eight Azure vCPUs. If licensing Database Standard Edition 2 by Named User Plus metric, the minimums are 10 NUP licenses per 8 Amazon vCPUs or 8 Azure vCPUs.”
In the EC2 environment, it’s pretty clear that the customer needs to be careful to abide by these limits or the limits that were in place when the instance was created. However, the tricky part is that Amazon and Oracle aren’t even abiding by these limits in the RDS environments. That’s right! Even today, you can go to the AWS console and spin up an SE instance on 8xlarge instances with 32 vCPUs. Or an SE1 or SE2 instance on 4xlarge instances with 16 vCPUs. They even reference it in the website language:
Guess what happens with the Oracle License Management Services (LMS) rep comes knocking on the door? They claim that the SE, SE1 or SE2 license doesn’t cover this, and the instance must be licensed by Enterprise Edition. So instead of paying $17,500 for the SE2 RDS instance, you’re paying $380,000 instead!!!
So quick, go check all of your AWS Oracle RDS instances to make sure they are in compliance. And if you have questions or are being audited for AWS usage, we’re here to help.