Oracle and VMware/vSphere Licensing Concerns – Cloudy as Ever…

By Jeff Muscarella


October 20, 2017

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A while back, I wrote a post about the growing number of Oracle licensing audits involving customers’ use of VMware’s technology. What started as murmurs around compliance issues faced when running Oracle technology in a VMware environment has since turned into a roar. In the best of circumstances, Oracle licensing is tough to navigate. Add vSphere licensing to the mix (considered to be the most popular data center virtualization management platform on the market) and the headache and risk gets exponentially worse.

So how are Oracle and VMware reacting to vocal concerns from their customers? In a word – defensively.

Recently, VMware has been amping up its position that there are no compliance issues when running Oracle on its technology (check out this and this published by VMware). The vendor has said “Oracle licensing DOES NOT change from a licensing perspective, whether you run Oracle workloads on a classic vSphere environment or Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solution like vSAN.”

However, what is notably absent is Oracle’s written opinion or response to VMware’s statements. Clearly VMware is hoping to calm peoples’ fears about using their technology with Oracle while Oracle remains silent. For VMware, vSphere licensing dollars are on the line. For Oracle, clear licensing policies have never been their strength and audits usually lead to revenue.

What does that mean for customers? The issue remains as murky as ever. Here at NPI we’ve had a number of clients come to us with concerns about using Oracle in a VMware environment, and also clients that are actually going through Oracle audits. What we can say is that Oracle remains vigilant on this issue and, at the end of the day, it’s their technology, their contract language and their interpretation of the situation that matters. Clarity offered from VMware should be considered – but not relied upon.

In addition, we’re seeing Oracle use these compliance issues to drive customers to its cloud hosting options, where the concerns are moot.

Our advice to customers is to keep their guard up with both vendors. Contrary to VMware’s messaging, we remain cautious about Oracle deployments in a VMware environment. We encourage clients to seek and validate clear and specific direction from their Oracle account team (especially when they say “it’s fine”). Oracle is highly motivated to audit, discover noncompliance and use those findings as leverage to push clients to the cloud. We also suggest customers document their environment carefully and keep detailed logs to clearly show where VMs are residing, where they can move and how they have moved.