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3.8 min to readPublisher Advisory Services

Licensing Oracle - which metric is right for you?

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Brian LowingerSenior Consultant
Publisher advisory

For most of its core technology programs, Oracle offers customers the option to license by either the Processor metric or the Named User Plus metric, but many Oracle customers remain confused about what it means to license by Processor vs. Named User Plus, and how each is best used.

In this post, we seek to demystify these metrics so you can have the confidence to license your Oracle environment efficiently and compliantly.

How many Oracle users do you have?

Regardless of which metric you use to license your technology programs, all processors where the program is installed and/or running must be licensed. When you do this with the Processor metric, there is no limit to the number of users, regardless of whether they access the program directly or via a front-end application. The Processor metric allows for an unlimited user count, so if the user population is large or uncountable, it generally makes sense to license by Processor.

The Named User Plus metric allows you to license your programs by the number of users. Keep in mind, however, that this metric is still tied to the number of processors on which the program is running. Here’s how: most products, when licensed by Named User Plus, have per-Processor minimum license requirements. For example, the standard Named User Plus license minimum for Oracle Database Enterprise Edition is 25 Named User Plus licenses for every licensable processor. The minimum for most middleware programs is 10 per processor. Customers must license whatever is larger between the total number of actual users and the Named User Plus minimum total. Generally speaking, it makes sense to use Named User Plus to license a program with a small number of users.

The production vs. non-production myth

While as a very general rule of thumb one can think of the Processor metric as being appropriate for production and standby environments and the Named User Plus metric best for non-production, many customers are unclear if licensing this way is a requirement. In fact, either metric may be used, regardless of environment. Where the total number of program users is small, Named User Plus may be the most cost-effective way to license a production environment. Similarly, for some customers with large test/dev organisations, it may make sense to license non-production environments by Processor. In short, the decision about which metric is best should be driven by the number of users, not the status of the environment.

Cost comparison

For most technology programs, the cost of one Processor license and the cost of 50 Named User Plus licenses are equal. If the number of users is greater than 50x the number of licensable processors, it becomes more cost-effective to use the Processor metric. Otherwise, Named User Plus is cheaper. In cases where the cost does not differ greatly between the two options, it is advisable to opt for the Processor metric so that the number of users may increase without additional license requirements.

Important reminders!

Because the number of users is such an important concept when deciding which metric is preferable, customers should remember that Oracle considers both users that access the programs directly and users that access the program through a front-end interface as licensable. Basically, any user contributing to or enjoying data that flows to or through the program is considered a user.


Understanding Oracle’s different metrics will help you license your environment efficiently. Choosing the right metrics allows you to manage costs and plan for future needs while ensuring compliance.

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Learn more

If you would like to discuss Oracle licensing best practices with one our licensing experts, reach out.

Learn more

If you would like to discuss Oracle licensing best practices with one our licensing experts, reach out.


A silhouette of a person on a white background.

Brian Lowinger
Senior Consultant