Users happy about Oracle licensing

Oracle appears to be avoiding local fallout from a licensing row which is attracting flak from US analysts.

Oracle appears to be avoiding local fallout from a licensing row which is attracting flak from US analysts.

New Zealand Oracle customers say they are not aware of the database maker pressuring users into switching from user-based to processor-based licensing.

Consulting company Meta Group has issued a statement saying that named user licence holder are being forced to buy more licences or convert to a more expensive processor-based licensing scheme.

New Zealand dairy company Fonterra, which negotiates directly with Oracle in the US, has seen no evidence of such behaviour.

Fonterra, which has thousands of users accessing Oracle databases, has a variety of licences, both user and CPU-based, says Anna Shires, manager of supply chain information systems.

“We’ve always been able to work out the best basis for measuring the usage of software and we’ve always found it [Oracle] to be very flexible,” says Shires.

Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS) IT manager Graham Alderwick says his organisation has saved several thousand dollars by switching from named user to processor licensing. IGNS, which has many small groups of Oracle users, switched licensing models at the end of last year.

Alderwick says there was no pressure to change.

“We could’ve stayed on the old system but with users dispersed across the country, it was more efficient to bring the licensing back to a centralised model rather than bums on seats.”

Meta claims the controversy centres around Oracle’s definition of multiplexing. This operation usually involves the use of a web server or other applications that use a shared pool of connections to the database. It says it appears Oracle is attempting to expand the definition of multiplexing to include batch feeds from non-Oracle applications into Oracle databases.

Ministry of Social Development IT director Neil Miranda says his organisation has a 9000-user “site” licence for its Oracle databases across whatever other products it uses. The ministry negotiated the site licence six years ago and renews it each year.

Miranda says Oracle was open to that approach then and as far as he is aware is still open to it.

Meta Group Australia, which issued the statement in New Zealand and Australia, says it has not received any complaints about Oracle from Australian customers.

Oracle New Zealand spokesman Nigel Murphy says Oracle pricing and licensing policy with respect to the treatment of multiplexing has been consistent and in effect for several years.

“The Meta Group report represents what we believe are a handful of misunderstandings about the policy.”

Murphy says if multiple devices are connected to the Oracle database, all devices need to be licensed.

“Typically the number of devices might be so high that licensing by processor makes economical sense for the customer. Any automated process that involves a computer-to-computer connection must be licensed using the processor metric. Oracle treats any batch process as a multiplexor.”

Criticism of Oracle’s licensing has also come from analyst Gartner Group which alleges that the database giant has made pricing models confusing for customers and often applies charges incorrectly. The tactics are an attempt to offset weak database sales by lifting revenue with “extraneous licensing fees”, according to a Gartner report.

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