Reducing Oracle Licensing Costs

By Steve Kaplan
| min

Decrypting Oracle software licensing has long been the bane of IT shops. VCE President, Chad Sakac, recently devoted a blog post on the challenges of Oracle licensing aptly titled, Oracle, I’m sad about you, disappointed in you, and frustrated with you. There are some steps, however, that customers can take to help contain, and optimize, Oracle licensing.


Oracle Licensing Options

Licensing Oracle in a virtualized environment is by server host or node. Once a customer licenses the cores/processors in the node, she can run as many databases as needed on that node. I recommend using processors with high frequency and low core count to minimize the number of licenses.

Oracle software licensing is typically processor & core-based in one of the following manners:

  • Per-core: Technology (Database, Middleware, BI, etc) products. This is the most common model used for licensing Oracle. Oracle has certain multipliers based on the Physical Infrastructure like x86, Solaris, HP, IBM etc. You can find more details on the multipliers on their site (some products are licensed by physical socket vs physical core).
  • Oracle Core Factor Table – Referenced in 02/12/2016 Oracle Software Investment Guide

  • Named User Licenses: This is the most common licensing scheme used for deploying Non-Production environments, i.e. Dev/Test/QA. In this method, organizations are licensed by the number of users who are going to use the system.
  • Unlimited License Agreement (ULA): Provides customers with an “all you can eat” buffet for a certain set of products. For example: Database and its Options, Middleware, BI, etc.
  • Application Specific Licensing: This is the method by which application products/modules are licensed. For example: 50K payroll users, 500 financial users, etc.

Isolating clusters allows customers to fence or cage Oracle licenses, which is no different from a licensing standpoint than using a shared storage platform serving different clusters. However, fencing Oracle licenses makes it far easier to control how many cores a customer adds to the cluster when compared to legacy converged infrastructure environments. Maxing out resources for a storage and compute pod in a legacy 3-tier environment requires another pod.

Benefits of Running Oracle on the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform

Nutanix is an Oracle Gold Partner and appears to be the far and away leader in running Oracle and Oracle RAC on HCI – which it has done in production for over two years now. I can find no published reference of another HCI product running Oracle RAC at all. Nutanix’s resiliency, performance, scalability, and product maturity tend to quickly capture customer business when evaluating HCI solutions.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform slashes the TCO in comparison to traditional 3-tier (centralized storage + storage network + compute) infrastructure. It also provides the performance, administrative ease and the confidence to virtualize physical Oracle instances.

At a high level, the advantages of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud include:

  • Storage and compute resources are all hyperconverged on x86 servers, enabling pay-as-you-grow scale-out performance.
  • All system intelligence is provided in software.
  • Nutanix is designed to provide the best possible application response time by keeping the storage close to the app in flash.
  • Data, metadata, and operations are fully distributed across the entire cluster of x86 servers.
  • The environment is self-healing to tolerate and adjust to component failures.
  • API-based automation and rich analytics make the environment still more effective while allowing quick copies of production databases for recover or testing and development purposes.
  • One Nutanix Storage Pool serves multiple vCenter clusters (for ESXi deployments), simplifying management of compute and storage environment.

In addition to the high-level advantages described above, there are many other benefits for running Oracle on the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud.

Simplified Oracle Database Layout

Nutanix enables the ability to simplify the Oracle database layout:

Here are two Oracle ASM diskgroups where each diskgroup contains one or more Nutanix disk(s). There is no RAID to be configured.

Pay-as-You-Grow Scale-Out Performance

The Nutanix platform operates and scales the Oracle Database in conjunction with the other hosted services providing a single scalable platform for all deployments. Customers can select any initial deployment size (with a minimum of 3 nodes) and grow in more granular data and compute increments.

Advancing technology benefits wrought by Moore’s Law enable an increasing density in VMs per node as the customer expands its Nutanix footprint over time – thereby reducing the Oracle licensing required. Licensing requirements may be further reduced by the ability to increase performance on existing nodes via seamless Nutanix one-click upgrades.

Nutanix provides additional storage-only nodes that do not run Oracle software and only run Nutanix AHV as the hypervisor. This is a unique offering from Nutanix that eliminates the licensing for the storage-only nodes while enabling customers to start smaller and only add licensing as required.

Other benefits, breaking them out between “hard” and “soft” include:

Hard Benefits

  • Better utilization of servers and storage: By bringing storage as close to compute as possible and utilizing native virtualization, the Oracle DBA can run more databases on the same infrastructure.
  • License consolidation: Nutanix’s intelligent tiering and data locality enable higher performance per core and more density per node than virtualizing on traditional 3-Tier Architecture.
  • Reduced infrastructure integration costs: Nutanix provides a turn-key solution from the virtualization to storage, allowing for improved provisioning times for new database workloads.
  • Reduced TCO: High consolidation densities can lead to lower power utilization, reduced floor space and cooling requirements.
  • Built in functionality: Nutanix includes data protection and disaster recovery (snapshot, replication, and more) as well as compression, practically eliminating the need for external solutions, third party software, or related integration costs.
  • Mix and match different nodes types: The ability to mix and match different node types ranging from “compute-heavy” to “all-flash” to “storage-heavy” results in predictable costs for both hardware and for Oracle software.

Soft Benefits

  • Improved admin/DBA productivity: The Nutanix solution provides a single management pane with customized dashboards and powerful tools to correlate metrics and show potential growth – all helping the DBA build/deploy/run Oracle workloads more efficiently and with less risk.
  • Improved performance: Data locality and automatic tiering eliminates the “noisy neighbor” problems, enabling improved performance and database scalability.
  • Automation: RESTful APIs automate provisioning of Oracle workloads and cloning of production to Dev/Test while laying the foundation for DBaaS (Database as a Service Cloud).
  • Reduced trouble tickets: The Nutanix solution is pre-tested from Virtualization to Disk, and is designed to reduce tickets in managing/deploying complex Oracle workloads on Nutanix platform.
  • Predictive analytics and scenario modeling: Prism Central provides access to superior analytics and scenario modeling.
  • Simplified database storage layout: Nutanix can enable both improved provisioning time and reduced time to deploy. This in turn can make the business more agile and productive.

Virtualizing Physical Servers

Running Oracle software on bare-metal often results in low utilization rates. Virtualizing Oracle software to run on top of hypervisors such as ESXi, Hyper-V, Oracle VM, and Nutanix’s own AHV not only consolidates the footprint from an equipment standpoint, it can also significantly boost utilization – effectively freeing up licenses and resources to utilize for other projects.

Nutanix makes it very easy to virtualize physical servers. Unlike a legacy infrastructure environment, there are no centralized storage arrays or storage fabrics – and none of the administration – to worry about. Running Nutanix AHV additionally eliminates the requirement to purchase and configure separate virtualization software and the associated management package.

Oracle DB administrators can feel confident in virtualizing Oracle applications and databases on Nutanix due to capabilities such as crash-consistent and app-consistent snapshots. Administrators can put Oracle workloads in hot backup mode, do a snapshot and clone from the snapshot to create test/dev copies. Snapshots/Clones are native to the platform.

RelatedBest Practices Guide – Oracle Databases on Nutanix

Case Study

Nutanix recently provided 44 nodes to replace the legacy 3-tier physical infrastructure utilized by a leading software manufacturer to host its Oracle environment. Table 1 shows the physical rack layout:

Table 1: Physical Rack Layout for Oracle on Nutanix

Tables 2 and 3 show the comparison vs. the former environment.

Table 2 Physical Footprint Comparison for SaaS Oracle: Nutanix vs. Legacy

Table 3 Physical Footprint Deltas for SaaS Oracle: Nutanix vs. Legacy

Oracle Licensing Cost Example

The following examples are based on Oracle licensing costs as of August 18, 2016 which can be found at Oracle’s licensing costs are subject to change at any time.

Let’s say we’re comparing a traditional 3-tier architecture running Oracle bare metal on AIX, HPUX, or another flavor of UNIX/Linux vs. running on Nutanix. In the case of the physical server, Oracle licensing is calculated as 1 Processor Core Factor, whereas on X86, it’s only 0.5 Processor Core Factor.

The EE Oracle DB licensing lists for $47,500. Adding EE options (OP) of Diagnostics ($7,500), Tuning ($5,000) and Partitioning ($11,500) comes to $24,000. We assume that we’re using 10 processor licenses whether physical or Nutanix:

3-Tier Physical – Oracle Licensing Cost: 10 X 1 X ($47,500 + $24,000) = $710,500
Nutanix – Oracle Licensing Cost: 10 X 0.5 X ($47,500 + $24,000) = $357,500

Additionally, virtualization allows us to safely over allocate certain resources of a node. Assuming accommodation of 2 databases on the 10-core node effectively lowers the Oracle licensing costs to $187,750 per database, or 1/4th the cost of licensing Oracle on the physical 3-tier solution.

And unlike 3-tier, there are no additional capital costs for storage and switch fabrics. The associated rack space, power and cooling costs are slashed, and the administrative costs are dramatically reduced as Nutanix eliminates all storage-related tasks and can also automate tasks such as OS/firmware/hypervisor upgrades.

Thanks to Murali Sriram, Michael Webster, Sachin Chheda, Tom Dau, Jim LeVan, Rob Simpson and Edison Diaz for contents and editing.

This document is for educational purposes only and provides examples of Oracle licensing costs based on publicly available information as of August 18, 2016. Nutanix is not affiliated with Oracle and does not control the price that Oracle charges for its products or services.