Watch out: Oracle plants $23,000 licensing booby trap in 12c upgrade

Oracle will charge $23,000 per processor if you inadvertently switch on the in-memory database option

Oracle will charge $23,000 per processor if you inadvertently switch on its in-memory database option.This is a classic example of Oracle licensing.

I don’t use Bluetooth on my iPhone and prefer to have it disabled. I’m sure there are plenty of good reasons for leaving Bluetooth on but I prefer to disable it.

Apple obviously does not like me having it switched off and would prefer me to switch it back on again, because when I upgrade iOS, Bluetooth is switched back on. 

A report in Forbes in March suggested this is to with advertising and identifying the location of iPhone users for retailers. It is mildly annoying but not the end of the world. I just switch it off again to save all-too-precious battery life.

But Oracle has used the same feature-switching technique for Oracle Database, which includes in-memory capabilities. This is a classic Oracle technique which switches on a licensable and chargeable feature during upgrade.

Oracle licensing best practices

1. To reduce the risks of exposure ensure your change management process includes licensing and the implications of licensing changes for large suppliers such as Oracle.
2. Take time to educate and inform Oracle administrators of the consequences of their actions.
3. Invest in training staff or hiring expertise around Oracle licensing.
4. Vote with your feet. Find suppliers that put customer experience and customer satisfaction above shareholder value.

Source: Campaign for Clear Licensing

Many Oracle customers will be looking forward to this in-memory feature that greatly reduces database query time, but it may expose many companies to unnecessary risk and unplanned costs. An Oracle database administrator performing routine upgrade work may unwittingly expose their organisation to $23,000 per processor licensing costs

This form of auto-enrolment to chargeable features is not exactly customer friendly. It’s rather like selling a chainsaw without a safety guard. Yes, strictly speaking it is the responsibility of the chainsaw operator for their safety - but the manufacturer can put steps in place to protect the customer from unnecessary risk.

From a license compliance and risk perspective; Oracle is a loaded gun. Organisations should follow licensing best practices to minimise their exposure to unplanned spend and audit penalties.

Mark Flynn (pictured) is managing director of the Campaign for Clear Licensing

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