5 Questions to Ask Before You Sign an Oracle Unlimited License Agreement

By Gregg Spivack

Director of Client Services, NPI

June 16, 2014

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Attention Oracle customers – are you getting ready to sign an Unlimited License Agreement (ULA) for the first time, or renew an existing one? While the ULA is ideal for some companies, there are risks to consider. Not every company needs or will benefit from a ULA, yet overspending is endemic to customers that pursue this licensing option.

Here are five questions you should ask as you evaluate your options:

1. To what extent are the various licenses covered under the ULA “unproven” within your environment? Many customers purchase unlimited access to licenses for products they have never used before in their environment. The risk is that enterprises are often overly optimistic about their license usage needs for new offerings and overspend accordingly.

2. Have you built out a forecast to estimate license needs by project, and timing? As a best practice, various internal stakeholders (e.g., IT, sourcing, finance, business) should be reviewing, discussing and challenging the forecast. Overestimation leads to paying for licenses before they will actually be used.

3. Have you thought through the implications of having all of your company's pre-ULA support contracts combined into your ULA? If you think Oracle is inflexible when it comes to providing options to manage your support costs in a pre-ULA environment, you ain't seen nothing yet!

4. Have you recently dropped support on any unused licenses and are now considering including that license type in the ULA? Under certain circumstances, Oracle will force you to reinstate this support before executing the ULA.

5. Do the license metrics (e.g., processor-based) match how your company has previously licensed and/or prefers to license its Oracle technology? Oftentimes, ULAs fail to incorporate non-production license needs which leads to companies buying licenses under Oracle’s Processor metric rather than its more cost-effective Named User metric.

An Oracle ULA is a sizeable commitment, both in terms of cost (often 8-figures) and duration. Investigating the risks (and benefits) of a ULA from all perspectives will help reduce the risk of overspending, overbuying and underutilization of IT assets.