What is Oracle Doing to Standard Edition Licensing?

Using Oracle Standard Edition used to be a highly effective way for companies and government agencies to leverage solid Oracle technology without the incredibly large fees associated with Oracle Database Enterprise Edition. If you could fit your usage into the technical limitations of Standard Edition, then it made sense to get on board.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line (starting in 2015 actually), Oracle discovered they could force customers into giving it more money, simply by changing the Standard Edition rules, even after customers bought the Standard Edition product! Back in 2015, Oracle wanted you to spend more money on Enterprise Edition. Today, Oracle wants you to spend more money on Oracle Cloud. The names of products may change, but this is just another example of “Oracle being Oracle”.

A brief history of Standard Edition licensing changes

In 2015, Oracle made some significant changes to their Standard Edition licensing. At a high level, they did two things:

Firstly, Oracle changed the rules on where you can run Standard Edition. They changed the server sizes that could be used. The server size you can use now to run Oracle Standard Edition is much smaller than previously. And they changed the name from SE; the old license was SE1 and the new license was SE2.

The second thing Oracle did was to prevent customers from buying additional SE1 licenses, and also prevented them from using SE1 and SE2 in the same environment. If you were using Oracle SE, you had three choices:

  1. Never make a change to your technical environment, including servers (unrealistic).
  2. Give Oracle more money for SE2 licenses.
  3. Give Oracle more money for Enterprise Edition licenses.

And, back to the future …

What happened with these changes is customers gave Oracle more money. Just how successful was Oracle in this licensing sleight-of-hand maneuver? The answer is, so successful that they are doing it again! This time Oracle announced that RAC is no longer available, starting with version 19c of their Standard Edition Database 2. If you want RAC and the latest Oracle Database Standard Edition 2, you are out of luck. Here are the options Oracle gives you:

  1. Deconstruct your implementation so you don’t need RAC.
  2. Give Oracle more money and upgrade to Enterprise Edition.
  3. Give Oracle more money and buy Oracle cloud services.

Oracle literally provides these options. You can see them here.

Your Oracle database options considered

Let’s talk about Option 1, because it is so ridiculous, only Oracle would have the nerve to suggest it. Oracle says you can incur all the cost to change your implementation, so you don’t need the RAC functionality you paid for. However, you will still pay Oracle the same amount for annual technical support. Oh, and not only will Oracle refuse to reduce your support, they will actually increase it by 4% (in 2020)! Get less, pay more. I told you it was Oracle being Oracle.

What can you do now?

Let’s forget what Oracle suggests, because their options are either too expensive, or too nuts, or both. Here are our suggestions:

  1. Don’t upgrade to 19c. There is really nothing amazing about SE 19c that you have to use. In fact, it has less in it than 18. Stay on the prior release. You can buy SE2 and use prior versions.
  2. Don’t pay Oracle any money for support. Sounds crazy? Well, if you are not upgrading, then it’s a perfect time to look at self-support, or third-party support companies such as Rimini Street. You can move to an independent support provider, save lots of money, and fund the next suggestion at the same time.

Move away from Oracle products for these types of workloads. While the product itself may meet your needs, there is simply too much uncertainty in how Oracle licenses the product and forces you into situations that are completely avoidable were it not for Oracle’s never-ending quest of money. Do you trust Oracle business practices enough to risk they won’t make another change next year? Maybe now is the time for you to look at a Postgres solution for these workloads.

While you are looking at those options, you should always stay in compliance with your Oracle contracts and have a roadmap to optimize your existing licenses and contain your Oracle spend. Palisade Compliance has helped hundreds of Oracle customers with their Oracle licensing and we can assist you, as you grapple with Oracle’s Standard Edition switcheroos.

Picture of Craig Guarente
Craig Guarente
Craig is the President and Founder 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.