Beware of Oracle’s New ULA Certification Trap – It’s Really a Stealth Audit!

If you have an Oracle ULA, be prepared for yet another certification trap that is being set by your friends at Oracle LMS/SIA (Oracle’s customer audit team). As if dealing with Oracle wasn’t difficult enough already, they find new and innovative ways to make it worse.

Palisade Compliance has many clients who have ULAs that are expiring. Recently, Oracle has been sending these clients a “Certification Questionnaire” and telling clients they must complete the questionnaire and send it back to Oracle. This new formalized questionnaire goes way beyond anything Oracle has done to clients at the end of their ULAs in the past.

That questionnaire is 56 questions long and we call it a “stealth audit.Filling out this form and handing all that information to Oracle is a recipe for disaster. Here are a few reasons why this is bad news for you, as well as a few tips on what you should do when you receive this from Oracle.

3 reasons why Oracle’s Certification Questionnaire is bad news

  1. Oracle has no financial incentive to make certification easy for you. When you certify your ULA, you do not give Oracle more money. When you renew your ULA, you give Oracle a lot more money. Oracle is a coin operated machine and you must always be aware of that. You are handing information to Oracle’s audit team (LMS/SIA). What do you think auditors will do with that information? They will audit it and audit you, all without ever calling it an audit.
  2. There is almost nothing in that questionnaire that you are contractually obligated to give to Oracle. It’s not as if half the questionnaire is relevant and half is additional. Almost 100% of this questionnaire is outside your contract. Anything you say to Oracle LMS/SIA may be used against you later. Stick to the contract and only give Oracle what you have to give them!
  3. The way some of the questions are worded can be highly problematic if you answer them in a way that is different from Oracle’s interpretation. Once you say something to Oracle they will run with it and you can’t un-say it. Questions around virtualization, shared storage, and cloud deployments are areas where Oracle has literally generated billions of dollars in revenue from unsuspecting customers. Don’t be the next victim of their LMS audit team.

What do you do if you receive this demand from Oracle?

The first thing is, don’t rush to reply. Take your time, read your contract, and understand exactly what you are contractually obligated to send to Oracle. Typically, all you have to send to Oracle is the quantity of each product being certified. That’s it. You do have to send Oracle a Certification letter declaring your usage. Palisade has a standard certification form that we use for all our clients. Reach out to us and we can send it to you.

Second, if Oracle asks for progress or completion dates on their non-contractual demands, be polite, and tell them you are working on the certification per the terms of your contract. In the meantime, you should be doing all you can to optimize your ULA deployments and minimize any potential non-compliance gaps. If you are following the Palisade Compliance end-of-ULA methodology, you will easily hold off Oracle’s audit team as you engage other parts of Oracle during your ULA close-out.

What to do next

When your certification date arrives, send a certification letter (not the questionnaire) to Oracle. That’s when the fun begins, and you have to defend your certification. Oracle may ask for more details or may again demand completion of the questionnaire. Remember, your contract here with Oracle is vague and you have plenty of room to maneuver and negotiate. Ultimately, however, you are in the driver’s seat and you can control this process.

Oracle doesn’t make it easy

Unfortunately, Oracle often makes things difficult for their customers. ULA certifications are no exception. Oracle doesn’t want you to certify and the LMS audit team is measured on how much money they bring into Oracle. Following Oracle’s non-contractual process of certification will put you at greater risk of suffering an unbudgeted financial penalty and having to spend more with Oracle. Simply put, following the Oracle non-contractual certification process may cost you millions of dollars. At Palisade we’ve seen Oracle customers fall into this trap. Don’t be one of them.

There is a better way!

There is a better way to certify your ULA: stay within the four walls of your contracts, and stay on a course that is best for your company. Palisade Compliance has assisted hundreds of Oracle customers with their contracts and ULAs. We’ve developed a proprietary and effective ULA optimization and certification strategy that allows our clients to claim millions of dollars of additional software they were entitled to at no added cost, as well as avoid the compliance nightmares that Oracle is known to spring on their customers. To get more information please get in touch with us and we can help you right away, even if your ULA expires this month!

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.