Oracle's AWS TrapAfter yet another less than stellar earnings report, Oracle is clearly playing catch up with market leaders AWS and Azure in the race for your cloud dollars. Oracle’s latest move is their “You’re Spending Too Much on AWS” Campaign. The idea is that Oracle guarantees they will cut your AWS bill in half. On the surface it sounds like a great promotion. I mean, what could you possibly have to lose by contacting your Oracle sales rep and letting her know you want to take part in this promotion? After all, your savings are guaranteed, right?

Unfortunately, like everything Oracle, the devil is in the details and this offer quickly gets complicated and risky. First, it’s important to examine the fine print. Here is what Oracle says about this promotion:

“* Oracle Guarantee
Oracle will cut your Amazon bill in half when you run the same (i) data warehouse workload on Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud; or (ii) transaction processing workload on Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing Cloud, as compared to running on Amazon AWS. Pricing is based on Oracle’s standard published pricing for bring your own license and Amazon’s standard published pricing as of March 1, 2018. Each workload compared shall be evaluated based on the actual required number of OCPU/VCPUs, the amount of storage, and the time required to complete the workload. The minimum workload is one hour for this offer. If Oracle determines that you are due a credit, we will apply this credit to your Universal Credit cloud account. Please contact your sales team to exercise this offer. Offer valid through May 31, 2019.” Source:

Now that we have the details, let’s walk through why this could be a huge trap that will expose you to more Oracle fees and, potentially, even a risk of audit.

1. Oracle doesn’t tell you that in addition to buying their cloud services, you have to buy more licenses as well. That’s right, to use Oracle’s cloud services you have to buy their Multitenant Option and, depending on the Oracle cloud, you’ll also have to buy their Real Application Clusters. So, add the additional license fees and perpetual technical support costs to your Oracle tab. With AWS, you’re just paying for AWS services required to migrate and host your Oracle workloads under BYOL and your existing support. There is nothing new to buy in terms of Oracle licensing, assuming you’ve haven’t made any fundamental changes to the workload deployment.

2. You actually have to pay for the Oracle cloud, additional licenses, additional support, and existing support, and get the service up and running to take advantage of this offer. Once it’s up and running then Oracle will determine if they’ve met their guarantee, and if they haven’t, at their discretion, they will give you some type of credit to buy more Oracle services. That’s right, you don’t get your money back. Oracle will tell you what the credit is and then they will let you buy more of their stuff that didn’t meet their guarantee!

3. You are putting yourself at a huge risk of a potential audit. Remember, how this program works. First, you have to tell Oracle what you are using on AWS so they can do a comparison. Right there is a red flag. Since Oracle contracts are so unclear, you are basically giving Oracle sales the opportunity to scare you into thinking you may have a compliance issue. Second, when you spin up the Oracle instance, you’ll probably still have your AWS instance going. Oracle bases this entire promotion on you having your own licenses. Well, guess what? By spinning up an instance on Oracle’s cloud, and having your AWS instance running you may indeed have put yourself in a bad compliance position.

While the Oracle “guarantee” initially sounds appealing, a quick look at the details brings up a whole set of warnings and red flags that are completely avoidable. Like everything Oracle does contractually, they have made this more difficult and complicated than it needs to be. If Oracle was really confident in their promotion, to make this easier, they would allow you to try their services without buying, and then give you money back (including your costs of spinning up and testing the Oracle instance). One last note, Palisade has hundreds of Oracle clients all over the world. Many of them use non-Oracle clouds like AWS and Azure. As of this writing, not one of these clients has made the switch to Oracle cloud through Oracle’s promotion.