As we all know it, Oracle has been the ultimate leader when it comes to database technologies and it was a leader in the market for a long time, making other top multinational organizations dependent on their products. Obviously, not all Oracle database products are equal and for this reason, knowing how to choose the suitable edition of Oracle Database, the one that would meet the needs of a business infrastructure and budget requirements, could save the buyer a great amount of dollars in the long run.
When it comes to buying an Oracle Database, there would be four main choices and two primary reasons to be taken into consideration. The first reason would be avoiding spending lots of money by buying an expensive database edition that is really needed. The second one would be that buying an expensive database edition also would avoid compliance issues caused by using a cheap edition than the business demands.
Most of the Oracle products are licensed in two ways: per user (Oracle calls it Named User License – NUP) and per processor license (Processor). Together, these two ways can create a diversity of paths to consider when trying to choose the suitable edition for your business.
Purchasing the right edition of Oracle is very significant given the potential price variance of different editions functioning on the same platform. For example: a 2 processor 4 core Intel chip server licensed per processor for an SE1 instance would cost just under 10.000 $ list price, whereas an EE instance on the same configuration would be in the region of 145.000 $ without including any extra database management options. And adding options could easily increase the total licensing cost to 250.000 $ for just one server.
The same smart approach to intelligent licensing is required to be used in the NUP metric scenario. Consider this example of an application that has only five people accessing it. An SE 1 license with the same processor configuration above will cost around 700 $ list price, whereas an EE instance would be over 100 times greater, at roughly 78500 $. Making the right decision can clearly make a significant financial difference.
It is also important to take into consideration that many application vendors will choose to have their products certified for a specific edition or multiple editions of an Oracle database. It is therefore always recommended to take into account the cost implications of future application and database development before making any financial commitments to adopt other software products. Added to this, whilst you can go back to Oracle and upgrade from a lower database edition to the next, it is not possible anymore to downgrade it. Here are the options available for a business:
- Oracle Personal Editions
For some reasons, this option is the least-purchased Oracle database and it is only available for a one person (1 NUP) license at a cost of around 385 $. It is generally purchased for a development environment to enable a separate test environment to be created.
- Oracle SE1 – Tier 1 Multi User
This one is Oracle’s introductory edition and comes with both restrictions and advantages. In the first place, it is licensed by NUP (either for five minimum or by total amount of users) or processors (total processors, cores do not matter). In the second place, it is only allowed on a server with up to two processor sockets. This means that if you are running the SE1 database on a server with just two processors installed but capacity for 4, you would be breaching Oracle’s SE1 licensing rules. I know, it might be a little tricky, but the difference in cost justifies it.
For instance, if the company standardizes on Oracle Database EE but you have five new Tier 3 application deployments this year that have small computing requirements, you can deploy with a significantly more cost-effective database license which can be easily upgraded in the future, if usage demands.
- Oracle SE – Tier 2 Multi User
The middle tier of the three multi-user options, Oracle SE, can offer a great value for money for any middle-sized enterprise. Firstly, it is licensed by NUP (five minimum or total amount of users) or processors (total processors only, cores do not matter) with a maximum of four total processors, regardless of cores. The four total processors can be on one server or spread across two servers because Oracle SE comes with Oracle Real Application Clusters included in the price (roughly 1930 $ per processor cost in EE). This means you can have a two server database environment with failover and high availability at a significantly reduced cost for all of your Tier 2 and some Tier 1 applications that meet those requirements. Then, in the future, if you need to expand the environment, you can simply upgrade the licenses and migrate the database.
- Oracle EE – Tier 3 Multi User
This major one, Oracle EE, or Enterprise Edition, is the flagship database and a very popular option due to its track record and wide variety of options. For many customers this is the only platform they have ever considered and the main reason why Oracle databases have earned their reputation for being so expensive.
Although there is a cost associated with licensing the EE database itself, there are also additional costs for a large diversity of management packs and options that are available to each customer. Keeping track of usage and availability of these options is vitally important when understanding and analyzing the licensing costs. For example, an Oracle DB EE instance on a server with two processors and four cores each would start at around 144050 $ list price (USA). Add up all the most commonly used options and the price for a single server exceeds 328700 $. Clearly, the EE edition is the only choice for many Oracle customers, but as the examples above illustrate, it’s essential to consider the needs of the business, and by that I mean current actual and projected database usage when making a purchasing decision. In addition, active management packs and options are incredibly relevant to track in order to optimize both licensing costs and compliance.
So, what we could understand from the above presented option for a business, as is true of just about every aspect of business, information is power. When purchasing and deploying an Oracle database, it’s essential to have the right information about current and future usage, to be able to take into account all aspects of a deployment plus any knock on financial and technical implications, in order the choose the right and productive path for your company.
By Radu Alexandra Silvia, student at the Romanian American University