Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Oracle licensing and support??

Posted by C. R. Oldham on

If anyone has new or updated information, please correct what I've said below. I know Oracle's product and support offerings have changed since we installed our last contract with them.

1. Where can I read the exact license text for the different versions of Oracle? I definitely want to actually read them before making a decision.

Hmm. That's a good one. I don't know if it is available online, but you could get it by calling an Oracle sales rep.

2. How do "named user" licenses work exactly, both from a license and a technical point of view?

It is on the honor system mostly. There is a parameter in the Oracle startup file that restricts the maximum number of users that can be connected to the database. It is a hard limit. If you hit it, more users cannot connect until some disconnect. Now, you can bump it up if you want, but internally Oracle keeps a "high-water mark" in one of the system tables (it's not a secret, I just can't remember where it is), and if you call support they may end up seeing either the entry in your parameter file, or the high-water mark entry, and then bad things can happen.

3. How does Oracle support work? A certain amount of support is included in the license, or what??

Last I looked, support contracts have two parts--tech support and upgrade support (they have a name for it but I can't remember what it is). I think tech support is 22% of list price, and upgrade support is 17% of list. You would pay that every year. We pay for both, and upgrade support entitles you to upgrade to future versions for free.

The tech support end is divided in to two levels now, Silver and Gold (I don't think Bronze exists anymore). Gold is 4 hour response time, Silver is 24 hour response time. I can't seem to find my Oracle paper file right now to confirm that.

4. Oracle seems to be selling licenses for 9i, not the 8.1.7 that we'd actually be using, at least for now. If we buy a 9i license...

The impression I have is that if you buy the upgrade part of a support contract you end up with a license for "Oracle Server", no matter what version. You just need to open a TAR (for Technical Assistance Request) with Oracle Support via the MetaLink web site ( and they can send you the media for the version that you want.

BTW, sort of off-topic, we went from 7.1.3 to 8.1.5 to 8.1.6 and when we installed the patchset for 8.1.7 release 2 our installation went from Oracle Standard Edition to Oracle Extended Edition. Surprise! Support's response when I called them? "It's OK, just don't use any of the EE features and you won't be in violation of the license."