Oracle exadataOracle has a seemingly singular focus on selling cloud. Cloud, cloud, cloud is all they talk about. However, we should not lose sight of Oracle’s other businesses, including Exadata and the entire line of Exa hardware. While Oracle focuses on cloud, their sales teams are still pushing Exa. Before you buy that Exa hardware, you should ask yourself: does buying an Exadata machine put you at a greater risk of an Oracle audit and non-compliance finding?

The Exadata purchase process examined

Let’s take a minute to walk through the process, and then you decide. A typical Exadata purchase revolves around a company upgrading their existing servers (IBM/HP/DELL, etc) and replacing them with an Exadata machine. During a normal hardware upgrade, there is a process where you develop and test on the new systems, go live with the new systems, and then bring down the old legacy systems.

For ease of discussion, let’s say that your existing servers have 100 processors and you have 100 licenses. Congratulations, you are in compliance with your license grant! Now you go and buy this brand new Exadata machine with 64 processors. You begin to test and develop on Exadata, and eventually you put it in production. Now you have 64 processors of database on Exadata and 100 processors of database running on legacy hardware. Guess what – if you only have 100 processor licenses of Oracle database, then you are out of compliance.

The ‘double bubble’

Even if you decommission your legacy hardware there will still be a period of non-compliance. We all call this the “double bubble”. You have double the hardware, and you created a bubble in your licensing needs.

The hardware refresh scenario I described above is typical. If you’re an Oracle customer and you get audited during that refresh cycle, then you may very well be found out of compliance. I’ve seen audit after audit find compliance issues because customers did not have their test and development environments properly licensed.

The added risk with Oracle Exadata is that in this scenario, Oracle usually exactly knows when you are doing your upgrades. They are probably involved in the test/dev processes. You’ve either engaged with their consulting or hardware services teams, or you’re calling on support and logging tickets. Unless you bought more licenses when you bought your Exadata, then you are an email away from being audited.

So the question for you is: do you think Oracle would use this information to target their customers for license compliance audits? If I were an Exadata customer, I wouldn’t take the risk. If you’re considering upgrading the Exadata servers, contact us to proactively manage your Oracle licenses and contracts to avoid the headaches and costs associated with these types of audits. The other option is to cross your fingers and hope you don’t get audited!