Management and tracking of software assets is a critical element for any modern IT organization. The benefits are obvious. Effective software asset management (SAM) enables optimization of the software investment while guarding against costly non-compliance. Non-compliance may arising due to use of under licensed or unlicensed software and features. Given the cost of modern enterprise software, this is more important than ever.
SAM for most software vendors is typically straightforward and revolves around merely discovering and tracking the installation of the software. This approach, however, is almost always insufficient for Oracle software. Effective Oracle software asset management is a more involved process. In this post, we will review the essentials of Oracle software asset management. We will also look at Oracle’s own position on the different SAM tools available on the market.
2-Step Process: Discovery & Measurement
In our context, is the idea of finding and identifying the Oracle programs installed across the server environment. The process is typically accomplished through IP address/port scans to identify Oracle programs through their port bindings. Alternatively, servers with Oracle software may be manually added to SAM management servers. One issue with SAM tools relying only on scans (“agent-less” solutions) is that Oracle processes may not be running. Alternatively, the server may be down or behind a firewall, or otherwise prevented from being tracked. In such cases, the Oracle programs may be installed though not running, and still require licensing. Agent-based SAM solutions can help with some of these issues and provide further granularity around the Oracle programs on the target host. The discovery step will also identify the server details where the Oracle programs are installed (server make/model, CPU make/model and count).
The next crucial step for Oracle software asset management is measurement of usage. Merely identifying the server and counting the cores is not enough. Measurement steps vary and are unique for different Oracle programs. In the case of E-Business Suite (EBS), measurement would involve extracting the user details, along with role and privilege details, and quantifying usage of different EBS modules. For Database, measurement would involve capturing details on not only the DB version and edition, but also getting details on the Options/Packs installed and in use. Here, simply extracting details from the well known Features Usage Table is not sufficient. It is important to extract detailed data points for each Option/Pack in the same way Oracle license auditors would in the case of an actual Oracle license audit. Similarly, unique details need to be extracted for measuring usage of WebLogic and IAS products. Detailed measurement for Oracle programs is currently not offered by any SAM tool vendor on the market. Some vendors’ SAM tools collect sufficient details for Oracle Database only – we discuss this further below.
What does Oracle say about SAM tools on the market?
Oracle’s License Management Services (LMS) recognizes a few SAM tool vendors for measuring Oracle Database only. As such, if customers using these SAM tools to manage their Oracle Database deployments go through an Oracle license audit, the results from these SAM tools may sufficiently substitute the need to run auditors’ scripts for measurement. The list of vendors that LMS accepts (with caveats and qualifications), can be found here. As of the writing of this post, the currently recognized list of SAM vendors is: Easytrust, HP Enterprise, iQuate, Flexera, Lime Software, Nova Ratio.
The bottom line for Oracle software asset management.
Oracle software asset management can be helped tremendously by good choice and proper deployment of SAM tools. However, a fully automated solution does not exist. Involvement of expert individuals is needed to, for example, handle details like front-end user populations, virtualization and shared storage, optimized license allocation, and proper classification and assessment of DR/Backup. Given Oracle’s complex and evolving licensing rules, effective Oracle software asset management requires a mix of well deployed and managed SAM tools and seasoned Oracle licensing experts.