Guide to Oracle virtualization licensing and support

In this guide, learn about Oracle virtualization licensing and support policies and how Oracle licensing and support for virtualization stacks up against its competition.

In this Oracle virtualization guide, get an introduction to Oracle virtualization, learn about Oracle's virtualization strategy, understand Oracle virtualization licensing and support and learn the pros and cons of Oracle VM vs. VMware. This section takes a look at Oracle virtualization licensing and support, including Oracle VM licensing and support policies and how Oracle's physical-based virtualization licensing puts it at a disadvantage against other vendors' more virtualization-friendly licensing policies.
Read the other sections of this guide on Oracle virtualization

Oracle virtualization introduction guide
Guide to Oracle's virtualization strategy
Oracle VM vs. VMware: A closer look
Guide to Oracle virtualization licensing and support


Even before Oracle announced its own Oracle VM virtualization platform, its virtualization-unfriendly licensing and support policies made it difficult for VMWare shops to migrate its Oracle applications onto virtual machines. Oracle users have to pay per Central Processing Unit (CPU) installed on a server, even if the Oracle VMs are running on only a fraction of the CPUs.

This method is not as cost friendly as the virtualization licensing policies of other vendors such as BEA or Microsoft, which license its virtualization software per instance rather than per physical server. Oracle's support policies were not considered virtualization friendly either. Oracle has different support policies for different applications. While it supports virtualization of some apps, it does not offer Oracle support for others, such as its Real Application Clusters (RAC) database. Oracle also said it would not certify VMWare because it's considered part of a hardware stack, and Oracle only certifies different operating systems.

When Oracle announced the release of Oracle VM in November 2007, analysts wondered, if or when, they would see a change in Oracle's virtualization support and licensing stance, especially as most vendors moved away from physical licensing. Oracle however, continued its CPU-based licensing policies and stated that it would not support its applications running on virtualization platforms other than its own Oracle VM.

But even as Oracle started to make efforts to improve Oracle VM with new additions and releases like its VM Virtualization templates, experts noted that the software giant lagged other vendors in virtualization-friendly licensing and support. Burton Group virtualization expert Chris Wolf noted a couple of reasons that Oracle was not on par with its competition.

  • Oracle does not support VMWare and its licensing is bound to physical hardware
  • Oracle does not support running its software on any virtualization platform except its own Oracle VM and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud environments that are supported and licensed by a virtual CPU
However, Wolf noted that companies like Oracle that have not adapted their licensing and support policies for virtualization will likely make a change at that point where their revenue becomes affected.

When will we see such a change?

While Oracle still has a long way to go to being considered virtualization-friendly, the software giant relented somewhat on its hypervisor support policy last May. While Oracle has always resisted supporting its applications running on anything other than its own Oracle VM, it announced that it would provide best-effort support for E-Business Suite applications running on any x86 hypervisor, including those from VMware, Microsoft, Citrix Systems and other virtualization providers.

Still, Oracle has not relented on its CPU-based licensing model and its E-Business Suite is only one database out of many. And even though some users point out that Oracle databases are too large to virtualize anyway, experts say that at some point broader virtualization support will be inevitable.

For more information on the annual pricing of Oracle's physical-based CPUs, read this Oracle VM FAQ.

This was first published in October 2009

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