Database and application servers – user based
User based licensing has always been on offer, or at least since the Oracle database version 6 in the late eighties. Over the years, the user definition has significantly changed, often to adjust to new technology. The licensable element has remained the same: Oracle user based licensing relates to the individuals or devices able to access the software, regardless active usage.
Also from the beginning, a hardware related pricing has been in place. Initially specific hardware/OS combinations were distinguished; today, hardware differentiation is based on a minimum requirement per processor. Per your license agreement, Oracle holds your organization responsible for having faithfully described your situation. This should be taken very seriously in order to avoid under-licensing and the associated penalties.
The dominant metric for user based licensing is Named User, meaning any specific individual that has been authorized by your company to use the Oracle software, regardless of whether he or she is actively using the programs at any given time. Individuals can be employees, contractors, but also customers able to use the software directly or through other applications. In case of non-human operated devices, such as sensors, each needs to be counted as a named user if it can access the software.
Oracle software licenses: specific products
Oracle software licenses authorize individuals and instances to use a specific product, regardless of how often the product is used. This means that you can use multiple installations of a specific product, on one or multiple servers. If the individual is licensed once, no additional licenses are required. For example if John has a NUP license for Database Enterprise Edition, he can access a multitude of databases on various machines, all under that one NUP license. These so-called multi-server rights are a standard part of the license grant.
Named User licensing is about the employee functions and the devices allowed to use the software, not about user names or who actually uses the software. In multi-tier or other complex technical architectures this can be very hard to determine. Oracle software can be at the bottom of the digital infrastructure and some users may have access to Oracle software without knowing it. Especially when batching or multiplexing is being used it can be difficult to get a clear picture of the situation. Oracle’s named user licensing does not recognize multiplexing software, so the numbers need to be determined at the front end of the multiplexor.
A practical rule that helps you find the correct user populations is to track:
- Where the requests come from.
- Where the information comes from.
To be sure, document your architecture and approach a licensing specialist to assist, as mistakes can be costly.
Oracle’s Named User Plus (NUP) metric
Since 2002, Oracle uses the Named User Plus (NUP) metric. NUP is available for the majority of products on Oracle’s Technology pricelist: Database products (Oracle database, Options, Enterprise Management), Data Warehousing (Express), Application Server products (Weblogic, iAS, Options, Enterprise Management), Business Intelligence (Oracle BI, Hyperion Essbase), and many Enterprise 2.0 products (Webcenter, Content Management).
Over time, the NUP definition has been adjusted to allow for the automatic batching from computer to computer. This means that if data is stored in one relational database and then batched to a datawarehouse on Oracle technology, the individuals who can use the first database are not to be considered as named users of the datawarehouse. Prior to NUP there were slightly different other license types, such as Named User Single or Multi Server in 2000, and per Named User in the nineties.
Because of these complexities, the NUP license metric may only be used in countable populations. Often it is used to license the employees and contractors of a company or the internally used applications. It is also a popular license for development and test environments, as those are often characterized by a low number of users who can access the software, however be aware of the minimum requirements which are hardware related!
Make sure to always look at the exact definition in your Oracle License and Service Agreements (OLSA) attached to your order form or offer.