Soft Audits by Oracle? The Risks are the Same

Oracle has many ways to audit their customers. In fact, there are so many different paths for audits that we wrote an entire whitepaper on “hidden Oracle audits“.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen a shift in Oracle behavior. They appear to be accelerating and expanding the use of “soft audits” as a way to move you to Oracle cloud and Oracle Java. Soft audits can be employed by Oracle sales or Oracle’s LMS/SIA/GLAS audit teams.  Make no mistake: whether it’s an official audit or a “soft audit,” the risks are the same. These are all real audits and your IT budget can be torched in either scenario.

Official audits vs soft audits

An  “official audit” is when you get a notification from Oracle that they are exercising their contractual rights to audit your use of their software or cloud services. A “soft audit” is basically everything else.  

Soft audits occur when Oracle offers to “help” you with your ULA certification. Or when you approach Oracle and ask for help managing your licenses. Soft audits can occur when you give your information to your Oracle consultants or sales people, and they pass it on to Oracle’s audit team. We’ve even seen Oracle sales people conduct soft audits when they tell clients they are out of compliance because they are using Oracle on VMware, or they made an acquisition and their new company can’t use the software.  Oracle Java sales people have been employing soft audits for some time now.  Soft audits come in many shapes and sizes and they are increasing.

Recently, the three biggest sources of soft audits have been originating from companies at the end of their ULA, for companies moving to the cloud, and for companies using Oracle Java. In these cases, Oracle’s auditors and sales people are offering “free” help. Again, nothing is really free. In these engagements you pay big time.

Who is conducting these soft audits?

Well, lots of teams in Oracle.

  1. License Management Services (LMS). These are the traditional audit team. This is the team I ran at Oracle.
  2. Oracle Global License Advisory Services (GLAS). Part of the LMS audit team.
  3. Oracle Software Investment Advisory (SIA). Part of the LMS audit team.
  4. Oracle Software Management and Reconciliation Team (SMART). This is part of GLAS.
  5. Sales teams in Oracle offering to help customers with licensing. Oracle Europe is famous for this.

No cost savings here

Whether or not you get an official audit letter from Oracle, you should consider that “anything you say to Oracle may be used against you later”. To be fair, you have to talk to Oracle if you rely on their technology to run your business. But do you really think Oracle is going to help you spend less money overall with Oracle? NO WAY! They may help you move money around from support to cloud, but the bill always goes up. Ask Oracle LMS what percentage of customers spend more on Oracle after one of these audits vs the percentage that spend less? I bet I know the answer to both questions!

Be careful navigating the Oracle compliance landscape. If you have any questions on licensing or you want real help reducing your Oracle costs, reach out to us at Palisade Compliance. We’re 100% independent of Oracle, and 100% focused on our clients!

Craig Guarente
Craig Guarente
Craig is the CEO of Palisade Compliance, which he founded in 2011. Before 2011, Craig worked at Oracle for 16 years where he was the Global Vice President of Contracts, Business Practices, and Migrations. He was also the Global Process Owner for Oracle’s audit teams (LMS), a member of Oracle’s CIO advisory board, and on the Oracle User Group’s contract and licensing advisory board. Craig is now the leading expert on Oracle licensing, is quoted in dozens of publications, and assists with many high-profile Oracle disputes.
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