Disclaimer #1. While we are experts in Oracle licensing, the ultimate authority on all Oracle licensing issues is the contract you have signed with Oracle. Our advice, positions, and opinions below should not be taken as-is in assessing Oracle licensing. Situations vary, and even minor changes in technical configurations can lead to very different licensing outcomes. If you have have specific questions, it’s crucial to discuss the details on a case-by-case basis. Feel free to schedule a consultation if you want to discuss specific scenarios around Oracle licensing in Nutanix.
Disclaimer #2. We love Nutanix. It’s an excellent technology that promises to enhance, simplify, and optimize Oracle deployments and management. Our comments below should not be considered a dig at Nutanix. We simply feel that getting clear and unbiased advice on Oracle licensing is key to a trouble-free Oracle-in-Nutanix journey.
Anyone searching online for resources on Oracle licensing in Nutanix will come across several resources, including the following from Nutanix:
While we recognize the advantages and benefits of deploying Oracle in Nutanix, it’s important to understand the Oracle licensing fundamentals and implications. We also understand that the authors of these resources are not Oracle licensing experts, so minor oversights are understandable. It is, however, important to point out some of the pitfalls in those resources regarding Oracle licensing in Nutanix that any reader should be careful and mindful of.
First, let’s look at the the blog post: https://next.nutanix.com/t5/Nutanix-Connect-Blog/Reducing-Oracle-Licensing-Cost-on-Nutanix/ba-p/13656
The post does an excellent job of highlighting the advantages, ease and feasibility of deploying Oracle in Nutanix. We have concerns about the licensing claims, though. The example provided about partitioning a 10-node environment into several clusters, including a 2-node VMware cluster for Oracle, is potentially misleading. Oracle does not recognize any “fencing” capabilities. Period. The post claims: “This layout is no different, from a licensing standpoint, than using a shared storage platform serving different ESXi clusters” – correct… and per Oracle’s LMS team, all such ESXi clusters would require full licensing. Furthermore, per Oracle LMS, all clusters in the VCenter require full licensing.
You have to be an ex-Oracle license auditor or the survivor of an Oracle license audit to know this. In short, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Oracle license auditors would look at this example and conclude that all 10 nodes require full licensing. (On another note, Nutanix requires at least 3 nodes for their full failover capability to be leveraged. So if you are considering Oracle licensing in Nutanix, and want to benefit from seamless DR, you must at least license 3 nodes).
Another issue is storage segregation. Remember – Oracle requires licensing anywhere Oracle software is present. For databases, this includes binaries, data files, etc. This leads to the simple question – is the “storage-only” node free from Oracle licensing requirement? We would be hesitant to conclude as such. Based on our experience, putting anything related to the Database, even data files, on any system triggers full licensing requirement.
Finally, with regards to this post, it’s a bit unfair that the example presented compares a traditional architecture with processors with core factor of 1.0 against Nutanix that has a core factor of 0.5. Seems a bit unfair and misleading. Why not compare a traditional x86 system with Linux (core factor of 0.5) with Nutanix (core factor of 0.5)? On the whole, the article does a great job of identifying the benefits of simplifying your Oracle deployment with Nutanix. We don’t doubt those benefits at all.
Now turning to the best practices document (http://go.nutanix.com/rs/nutanix/images/BP-2000_Oracle_on_Nutanix_Best_Practices.pdf). As with the post, the document demonstrates the advantages and feasibility of Oracle in Nutanix. Unlike the blog post, it goes into some very useful details too. As with the post, however, we do have reservations about the Oracle licensing aspect. Firstly, remember that any guidance on Oracle licensing should only come from Oracle. Secondly, your Oracle contract (only) is king. So it’s wise to treat this document (and others like it from VMware) as a useful resource rather than being authoritative on Oracle licensing.
Of particular interest (and concern) is this section on page 28:
“You are not required to license an entire Nutanix block, or cluster, if all nodes will not run Oracle software. You can use hypervisor clusters, or cluster rules to restrict where Oracle software can run, and therefore restrict how many nodes of a large cluster must be licensed. You must however ensure you are appropriately licensed for each Nutanix node where Oracle software will run.”
This section makes us nervous because we have dealt with countless Oracle audits as auditors as well as independent third party experts assisting Oracle users. The litmus test Oracle auditors use is “where can the Oracle software potentially run?” As long as the underlying technology facilitates migration, the nodes must be counted. The auditors typically ignore fencing features. This approach may seem strange, but it works rather conveniently to Oracle’s benefit. Fortunately, the above paragraph is followed by a paragraph advising the reader to obtain expert advice on this topic.
So, where do we go from here? Our summary for Oracle licensing in Nutanix is as follows:
- Running Oracle in Nutanix will likely lead to scrutiny from Oracle license auditors. Furthermore, it’s likely they will require all nodes in a Nutanix cluster to be licensed. They have aggressively maintained this position with VMware for many years. We feel your chances of being audited by Oracle will only go up because, after all, from Oracle’s perspective, this is a good indicator for license non-compliance.
- As experienced licensing veterans, we are confident that a customer can defend her position on the issue of licensing Oracle in Nutanix environments. It comes down to smart planning, negotiation, and having a thorough understanding of your Oracle contracts and licensing fundamentals.
- In the event of an Oracle license audit, even if a customer is able to prevail on the number of nodes that need to be licensed, it does not change the fact that Oracle will likely find all sorts of other non-compliance issues like use of unlicensed features, deployment of unlicensed editions, incorrect counting of Named Users, violations of Limited Use stipulations, etc. In short, be ready for an Oracle license audit.