Oracle do it themselves
Oracle have their own compliance team who audit their customers, often at the point of renewal of any annual maintenance contracts.

Other triggers for Oracle audits can include conversations with clients.

We know of cases where requests for assistance in understanding the licence model and how to determine the required number of licences, has been met with a full on audit resulting in millions of pounds of licence purchases - How to contact the authorities

Oracle have a reputation for being very aggressive in an area that is difficult to understand. Particularly since they changed their licence model from 'concurrent usage' to 'named user'.  We have heard of cases where strong encouragement was made for the replacement of older licences onto the new model which from a compliance perspective was not always necessary.

Third party Oracle partners

There are third party companies that will 'assist' your organisation in establishing an Oracle licence position.  They will probably do so on the basis that the exercise will not only establish compliance but it will also save plenty of money.

Be very careful of anyone who claims any independence from Oracle.  From talking with customers that have gone through such exercises, it is clear that no work takes place without Oracle actually being kept up to date of every detail.

Difficulties with Oracle licensing
Oracle products are renowned in the SAM industry for their complexity when it comes to licensing rules.

For example, without running scripts on each server it is very difficult to determine how many actual users there are connecting to Oracle databases.

Calculating the licence requirement for Oracle databases is far easier however than doing the same for Oracle applications - for more detail see Oracle in our Reconciliation section.

Even Oracle themselves struggle with this, which is why there are no hard and fast rules for auditing Oracle applications.

Suffice to say for now that defining Oracle licensing requirements can be very tricky as it depends on the way the server/user relationship is setup, interpretation of the contract/licences in place, historical developments etc.

All of the above is exacerbated by the speed with which Oracle has been purchasing other software companies over the last few years so that the list of applications is constantly growing.

What does this mean?

We have worked with customers who have felt that uncertainty in the Oracle licensing arena meant that they ended up paying more than they should have done.

Having said that, we have also worked with people who have an exceptional understanding of Oracle licensing and their own technical setup.  This means that come the moment of negotiation, Oracle are placed on the back foot and told what is what.

It is quite clear that if you know where you stand, life becomes much easier and a great deal of wasted time and money can be avoided.

Moral of the story, if your organisation is installing Oracle products then absolutely make sure that at least one person understands Oracle licensing and technology in detail.

Next we look at IBM audits...