Blog

Miro Consulting specializes in software license audit defense, license management, subscription management, and cloud services, for Oracle, Microsoft & IBM.

Oracle Spatial, Graph & Machine Learning Now Free

Oracle SpatialThe core spatial features in Oracle Spatial and Graph have been included in Oracle Database Locator feature for over a decade. Now, all Oracle Spatial capabilities are available with both Enterprise Edition and Standard Edition 2. According to the announcement, all Spatial features are included.

https://blogs.oracle.com/oraclespatial/spatial-now-free-with-all-editions-of-oracle-database

Previous to this announcement, Spatial and Graph was a paid for option of Oracle Database Enterprise Edition, $350 per Named User Plus, and $17,500 per Processor license.

Oracle Spatial is an extension to the Oracle DBMS that adds a spatial type and spatial query functions to Oracle. It is offered by Oracle using two primary options.

  • Oracle Spatial was an optional feature of the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition. In addition to providing the SDO_Geometry type, Oracle Spatial provides a number of additional geospatial capabilities.
  • Oracle Locator provides a subset of Oracle Spatial capabilities. It was included as a standard feature of Oracle Database Standard and Enterprise Editions. Among other capabilities, it provides the Oracle Spatial geometry type (referred to as SDO_Geometry) and a SQL API.

As of December 5, 2019, all Spatial and Graph features of Oracle Database as well as Oracle Machine Learning (formerly known as Advanced Analytics), may be used for development and deployment purposes with all on-prem Database editions and Oracle Cloud Database Services. This news is also reinforced by the Oracle Database Licensing Information Manual.

The latest copy of the Oracle Licensing Information User Manual indicates that Machine Learning as well as Spatial and Graph is included with all Database editions without any prerequisites (beyond Oracle Database) and does not state that it requires an extra cost. The latest Oracle Pricelist (December 5th, 2019) no longer has Spatial and Graph listed as a purchasable Database option.

Oracle Spatial and Graph includes high performance, enterprise-scale, commercial spatial and graph database and analytics for Oracle Database 18c, in the cloud and on premises.  It supports enterprise business, business intelligence, large-scale Geographic Information Systems, and location services applications.  A general-purpose property graph database and analytic features support applications for social networks, Internet of Things, fraud detection, and recommendation systems.  A special-purpose RDF graph database supports linked data applications.

Spatial features now available for development and deployment with Oracle Database includes:

  • 2D and 3D geometry data types to represent locations, regions, and other geometries
  • All spatial functions and operators
  • Map authoring tools
  • Sensor and imagery data support with Point Cloud, LiDAR and GeoRaster data types and operators
  • Networks and parcel data management with Linear Referencing, Network and Topology data models
  • Geocoder, Routing Server, Tracking Server, Map Server
  • Open Geospatial Consortium web service APIs
  • Spatial Studio, a self-service, no-code/low-code map canvas and spatial analysis tools

https://www.oracle.com/technetwork/database-options/spatialandgraph/overview/spatialandgraph-1707409.html

Oracle Machine Learning provides a notebook style application designed for advanced SQL users and provides interactive data analysis that lets you develop, document, share, and automate reports based on sophisticated analytics and data models. Oracle Data Mining (ODM), a component of the Oracle Advanced Analytics Database Option, provides powerful data mining algorithms that enable data analysts to discover insights, make predictions and leverage their Oracle data and investment.

https://www.oracle.com/database/technologies/datawarehouse-bigdata/oml-notebooks.html


Save on Licensing & Increase Performance with Active Data Guard

Active Data Guard can help maximize efficiencies in using your Oracle licenses

If your organization has replicas of various databases and is interested in identifying ways to reduce its Oracle licensing requirements and increase performance, it can take advantage of the features of Oracle Active Data Guard.  It’s an option for Oracle Database Enterprise Edition (since version 11g).

The Active Data Guard program should not be confused with the (for-free, non-licensable feature) Data Guard functionality that was part of the Database Enterprise Edition program (since version 10g) and was enhanced in Database version 11g Enterprise Edition to support the Active Data Guard option.

Benefits of Oracle Active Data Guard:

  • Reduces costs because the physical standby database can also provide disaster recovery and/or serve as a test database when converted to a Snapshot Standby
  • Increases performance by offloading resource-intensive activities from a production database to an up-to-date replica
  • Simplifies operations by eliminating management complexity that accompanies traditional replication solutions
  • Eliminates compromises because the reporting replica is up-to-date and online at all times which is not possible with traditional storage mirroring technology

Active Data Guard Licensing must meet the following criteria:

  • Both the primary and standby server(s) must be licensed
  • The licensing of Active Data Guard must match the number of licenses of the associated Oracle Database Enterprise Edition
  • A minimum of 25 Named User Plus per Processor licensing requirement must be met
  • Active Data Guard’s deep integration with Oracle Database and complete focus on real-time data protection and availability avoids compromises found in storage remote mirroring or other host-based replication solutions

Example:
An organization is running three database servers; production, standby and test databases.  By implementing Active Data Guard, it can support the same production server, and a dual status standby and test server.  This would free up the Database Enterprise Edition licenses allocated to the test server to be used somewhere else in the Oracle environment.

Conclusion:
Oracle Active Data Guard offers many benefits, including the ability to be easily converted to a Snapshot Standby which maintains protection by continuing to receive data from the production database.  It can then archive it for later use and once the tests are complete, a single command can discard changes made in testing mode, and then quickly re-synchronize the standby database with the primary. However, it is important to note that the use of it will require additional licensing cost.

Remember to discuss any potential changes with Miro Consulting prior to executing any changes through implementation or purchase. Miro can help identify the total licensing impact of any changes and work with Oracle to provide the lowest cost of ownership solution for your organization.

About Miro:
Miro is a leading global provider of software asset management and subscription management services for Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, and Salesforce. We specialize in license management, audit advisory, negotiation tactics, support management, and cloud services. Contact us for more information.


Microsoft Self-Service Lets Users Buy Subscriptions Without IT Approval

Beginning now next year in the United States (and more locations to follow), Microsoft will make available its Self-Service program. This is designed, as per Microsoft, to give “… users a chance to try out new technologies and enables them to develop solutions that will ultimately benefit their larger organizations.”

And it provides an avenue for Microsoft to target non-IT administrators for the sale of its Power Platform offerings.

But Microsoft reversed its earlier decision to bypass IT administrators. Previously, there was virtually nothing IT administrators could do about it. It was automatic and non-configurable. So, in order to effect this change, Microsoft has delayed the launch of this capability from November 19, 2019 to January 14, 2020.

The offering only involves Microsoft’s Power Platform:

  • PowerApps, an app building service;
  • PowerBI, for analytics; and,
  • Flow, for automatic workflows.

Whether this is good, bad, or just plain ugly is in the details. Some of these follow.

The Good

  • Self-Service enables users to buy subscriptions on their own.
  • Self-service purchasers don’t consume the hours from the Premier Support agreement.
  • IT doesn’t need to get involved in this purchase if the user and/or product is allowed to participate in the self-service program. Per an updated FAQ document from Microsoft, “If required for their organization, admins will be able to turn off self-service purchasing on a per product basis via PowerShell. Admins have the same data management and access policies over products bought through self-service purchase or centrally.”

The Bad

  • Per Microsoft, the “… prices may differ from the prices an organization pays when making central purchases or prices offered through a partner.”
  • Only purchases through credit card are supported; there is no invoicing for Self-Service purchases.
  • User training is obtained via the products’ individual websites, which feature guided lessons, product documentation, examples, and a portal to interact with other users. (Or they beleaguer IT.)

The Ugly

Despite the controls that Microsoft offers to IT administrators, this process can work against a sound Software Asset Management program. It certainly can make it more difficult to manage.

The IT administrators can view Self-Service purchases via his or her portal, they can restrict some users and/or products, and the data governance policies that are in place for the users will apply. However, while the organization itself owns the subscription, its payment – both initial and on-going – is the responsibility of the user.

Some of this might impact the ability of the license manager to track the subscriptions accurately. With Self-Service purchases, the license manager may need to gather information from multiple locations to verify the use of the product and even to determine if the subscription can be brought into the corporate agreement. Doing that – bringing the subscription under the corporate agreement – will require that the user cancel his or her own subscription. And this cancellation is something that will need to be verified by the license manager.

Conclusion

With the controls that Microsoft will put in place, the policies around whether to allow certain users to purchase certain products… or not… must be implemented, documented, memorialized, and codified in order to avoid a non-compliance situation. This is yet another step in the management of the license estate and the technical need to maintain coherent environments.

While the initial announcement had not met with many positive statements with some claiming it may be among Microsoft’s worst decisions ever, this reversion by Microsoft is viewed more optimistically. But IT administrators and IT managers must take the necessary precautions.


Oracle waives extended support fees for some databases

Oracle has recently started sending emails to certain clients regarding extended support fees being waived.  The emails state that if the database meets the following conditions, it will be eligible for the waiver. Oracle clients who qualify must request the extended support waiver from Oracle.

Application Requirements:

  • Database releases 11.2 or 12.1
  • Database is being used to support Oracle E-Business Suite applications
  • The organization must contact Oracle and provide all CSI numbers, quantity and versions of these database licenses

Timelines:

  • Premier support for 11.2 originally expired in January 2015, and subsequently was waived through December 2018
  • Premier support for 12.1 originally expired in July 2018, and subsequently was waived through July 2019
  • Qualifying Extended Support fees have now been waived through December 2020

Normal Costs:

  • Extended Support fee is calculated at 20% of the most recent support fee for the Database (and any options/packs if applicable) on the CSIs and license quantities identified

Exemptions:

  • Clients are still required to pay for Extended Support for any databases of the same release used as backend to other applications
  • Clients cannot pick and choose, which databases they want on Extended Support within each release because of Oracle’s rule of “Matching Service Levels”, which states “…If you add Extended Support,…, you must acquire Extended Support for all licenses of a particular version release of a program if you acquire Extended Support for any license in such version release…”

In summary, if the client organization is using one of the DB releases mentioned above to run BOTH E-Business Suite and non- E-Business Suite applications, they will not get access to any new patches, fixes and security updates for their E-Business Suite databases unless they pay for Extended Support on non- E-Business Suite databases.

Additionally, Oracle is blocking any patch downloads until they get confirmation from the Client organization regarding how they are using their databases – see an example of Oracle’s response to Client organization’s inquiry on the topic via SR (Service Request):

Example Text:

Dear [Client Name],

[Client Name] has been identified by Oracle as having both database licenses and Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) licenses. As part of our continued commitment to provide the industry’s leading support offerings, Oracle has approved a fee waiver for database Extended Support fees through December 2020 for E-Business Suite customers running 11.2 and/or 12.1 database releases. The Extended Support fee waiver will be specific to the database licenses within your environment that are used for running the EBS software. In order to determine if you are eligible for this waiver, please provide answers to the following:

  1.   Are you running version 11.2 and/or 12.1 database release(s)?
  2.   Are you using these database licenses to directly run your EBS software?
  3.   If so, please provide all CSI numbers, quantity and versions of these database licenses.

Please be aware that in order to meet compliance, you must abide by our Matching Service Level Policy (page 3). If you add Extended Support, you still must maintain Software Update License & Support for the entire license set; subject to availability, you must acquire Extended Support for all licenses of a particular version release of a program if you acquire Extended Support for any license in such version release. You may reply to this RSR and include the information requested above.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please contact us.


Microsoft Tenant-Level Services Licensing Guidance

Microsoft Tenant-Level Services Licensing GuidanceIn a document published on August 13, 2019, Microsoft offered some “guidance” regarding licensing concerns around tenant-level services. “Guidance” is in quotes because the document is very unclear.

Some background first: Microsoft defines “tenant-level services” as those online services that when licensed for any user in the tenant, it becomes available – activated, in Microsoft terms – becomes accessible for all users in that tenant.

The Microsoft document includes the disclaimer:

Some tenant services are not currently capable of limiting benefits to specific users. Efforts should be taken to limit the service benefits to licensed users. This will help avoid potential service disruption to your organization once targeting capabilities are available.

On two levels, this can be disconcerting news to organizations who make use of tenant-level services. We’ll look at the second one first: a potential service disruption. This is technical in nature but also holds some business ramifications. That is, when Microsoft does implement targeting capabilities – likely without any warning or pre-announcement or grace period – it could cause some failures within the company’s business operations.

The second issue addresses license compliance. More importantly, it addresses an organization’s lack of controls in the management of their software estate. Unless that organization has a sound software asset management (“SAM”) program and/or regular monitoring and/or a software compliance officer, it could easily fall prey to unanticipated expenditures in the form of software licensing and subscription services.

Tenant-level services can ease the management of users with differing capabilities. But since Microsoft is not aware of the extent to which these capabilities – such as information protection – would be used, they enable these capabilities for all users within the tenant. This is risky! And Microsoft acknowledges this, prompting the distribution of their guidance.

Proper management of this environment – and, in fact, the entire Microsoft estate – is essential. Miro can assist clients in helping them to understand the caveats associated with the tenant-level services they are considering for subscription. For more information on this or any Microsoft topic, please contact Miro Consulting.

[1] Be aware that Microsoft, like any vendor, can implement governance tactics to protect their own intellectual property. With this guidance having warned that “efforts should be taken to limit the service” the continued, unlicensed use of the capabilities can be considered both flagrant and non-compliant.


Exclusive: Oracle clarifies Java Licensing with WebLogic & Solaris

Miro Consulting has received confirmation from Oracle regarding the use of Java with Solaris & WebLogic.Java Licensing with WebLogic & Solaris

  • Using Java for commercial devices now requires a Java license from Oracle
  • WebLogic & Solaris ship with Java embedded as part of the software
  • Users do not need a Java license for the use of WebLogic and/or Solaris, it’s included as part of the WebLogic and/or Solaris license
  • The WebLogic and/or Solaris license does not cover the use of Java for any other purpose, but it does cover applications made using WebLogic
  • Any other uses of Java on the machine does require a separate Java license
  • Desktops, Servers, Laptops, Mobile devices and basically anything that connects to the internet uses Java
  • Java licenses cost $30 per year, per client device; $300 per year, per licensable core**

As of January 2019, all commercial usage of Java requires a Java license.  This includes all servers, desktops, laptops, and similar that use Java, and almost all of them do.

In earlier updates, Miro explained that Oracle now licenses Java SE 11 for commercial use. It’s important to note that commercial features – like the Advanced Management Console – always required licensing.

We also expanded on how Oracle defines Java users:

  • Personal Users currently* do not require licensing as they use Java and/or its components for their own use.
  • Commercial Users utilize one or more Java components for production or business purposes either internally-developed or acquired through a third-party. They either must be licensed themselves or via the third-party application.
  • For Oracle Customers, one or more of the following would be true: a) There is a current Java subscription; and/or b) A perpetual license of Java exists; and/or c) Java is licensed via another Oracle product.

The third part of the Oracle Customer definition comes with its own restrictions: That the instance of Java can typically only be used with and for the product in which it is included.

It is also the reason for this update. Solaris – an Oracle product – includes Java. But not like WebLogic. WebLogic is Oracle’s premier application server product. And WebLogic Enterprise Edition includes Java. To be specific, the inclusion states that “Java SE is included for client applications that access WebLogic Server.”

So, this means that an application can be written to use WebLogic and make use of the Java that is included in it. That is, a Java application. And this application does not require Oracle Database or e-Business Suite or any other Oracle product. It can be used to access virtually any data repository. As long as it is a WebLogic application (i.e., the application uses WebLogic as its middleware component), it can use Java.

However, Oracle confirmed for Miro that the Java that is included in Solaris “… only covers the commercial use of the Oracle Java it ships for Oracle Solaris components that use Oracle Java…” This might be alarming to customers if they have Java applications running on Solaris without licensing either through a Java SE subscription or via another product like WebLogic. This is even more alarming in that this change took effect right after January 2019. In other words, corresponding with the last public update of Java 8.

It’s worth pointing out that WebLogic includes Java SE Advanced, the perpetual license of Java. This particular component of WebLogic can only be used for WebLogic Server. Solaris works in the same way. Except that WebLogic also contains Java SE for client programs whereas Solaris does not.

So this development is something of a new crisis. And there are several alternatives for organizations who find themselves in this position. Miro has the expertise and the resources necessary to help organizations navigate the often mysterious seas of Java licensing.  Contact Miro to find out more about Java licensing requirements and to save on Oracle licensing and support costs

*Per Oracle, personal use of Java is free through December 2020. Whether this is modified in any way remains to be seen.

**refers only to devices owned by commercial entities.  Personal devices used for commercial purposes may or may not require a commercial Java license


Microsoft Announces New Restrictions on Licensing in the Cloud

Microsoft Cloud Service Provider Policy Change

Microsoft has announced the availability of Dedicated Hosts. In conjunction with this announcement, Microsoft will implement new rules effective October 1, 2019 surrounding the use of traditional on-premise licenses with cloud-based dedicated hosts.

Aimed at services which provide for single-tenant hosts, the move by Microsoft follows Oracle’s treatment of deployments at service providers and might be viewed as a revenue generating tactic.

Policy Change Overview

  • New or upgraded licenses purchased after October 1, 2019 are subject to these new rules. Per the FAQ document published by Microsoft, “Any rights you have today still apply in the future to your use of existing versions under licenses purchased before the October 1, 2019 effective date.”
  • These new or upgraded licenses require Software Assurance – a surcharge of 25% of the prevailing server software license price – in order to be used at the Listed Providers, which currently includes Microsoft, AWS (including VMware Cloud on AWS), Google, and Alibaba.
  • The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit will include the use of Azure Dedicated Hosts which were announced on August 1, 2019. However, the use of Azure Dedicated Hosts precludes the dual deployment option (i.e., running workloads simultaneously in Azure and on-premises) for Windows Server Datacenter Edition. Note that the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit requires active Software Assurance.
  • The new policy allows for the provider’s use of a Service Provider License Agreement or “SPLA,” in which the license rights are included in the cost of cloud services. This is a potential option for subscribers.

Client Software Specifics

  • Windows (client) Enterprise will not be allowed for use on Listed Providers dedicated hosts except for Windows Virtual Desktop Access (“VDA”) Plan E3 or Plan E5 deployments after October 1, 2019. Existing deployments have until October 1, 2020 to relocate these deployments.
  • The use of Office Professional Plus licenses acquired on or after October 1, 2019 on Listed Providers’ dedicated hosted cloud services isn’t permitted with or without Software Assurance because the product is not included within License Mobility. Earlier purchases (i.e., prior to October 1, 2019), are still governed by the use rights in effect during the purchase or upgrade.

This new policy effectively changes the game for organizations that have taken advantage of dedicated host offerings (often from a security or performance perspective) from vendors other than Microsoft. To see how you are affected, please contact Miro.


Oracle Enterprise Metrics

For large companies that utilize Oracle products, one of the main goals often remains sustaining both manageability and cost.  In order to do so, Oracle provides a number of different ways in which to license their products.  A range of factors influences which particular licensing model makes the most sense for a given product.

What type of environment will this product be used in, such as production, pre-production, or development? Is the user base expanding, contracting or remaining the same? Is this product something expected to become integral to the company’s day to day business needs or is this simply a requirement for this moment, or this project, but the future use remains unclear?  All of these considerations can make deciding on the right type of license a struggle for even the most Oracle savvy team.

Enterprise Metrics, offered by Oracle, are measured differently from User based or Hardware based metrics.  They revolve around counts outside the actual number of people granted access to the application, or the underlying hardware upon which an application is run.  These counts can be in measurements based on Revenue, Employee Count, or Cost of Goods Sold.  These types of licenses are meant to simplify the managerial aspects of monitoring access to a particular application, however they do have their own set of pros and cons that should be taken into consideration before a purchase decision is made.

Oracle Enterprise Metric Advantages:

  • Non-User Based Measurement
    Enterprise Metrics do not focus on the actual number of users, but on figures related to the overall company structure and performance. These include number of Employees, amount of Revenue in Millions of Dollars, or amount of Cost of Goods Sold in Millions of Dollars, as well as others.  Because the measurement of these metrics is not based on users, the user pool can be as large or as small as a company requires and there is no need to actively monitor and control access rights.
  • Lower Initial Cost
    For clients with a very large user base, Enterprise Metrics typically provide a lower initial cost for obtaining licenses, due to the lower overall cost of an individual license, as well as an aggressive discount schedule.
  • Predictable Future Costs
    When a company purchases an Enterprise Metric based application, Oracle typically establishes an Expansion Exhibit, which lays out the cost and quantity for future purchases. These terms are negotiable and may involve specific triggers in terms of overages, at which point a company would need to make a purchase.  These exhibits also establish a set price, locking in discounts and giving a company a clear understanding of future costs, while avoiding the need to renegotiate for every future purchase.

Oracle Enterprise Metric Disadvantages:

  • Ongoing True Up
    While the fact that the licenses are not tied to the actual user count is often a major benefit for many organizations, one must consider the potential downside.  In situations where the growth of an application stalls, or even decreases, but the overall figure under which the application is licensed continues to grow, say Millions of Dollars in Revenue, a client will be required to continue purchasing licenses, reducing the overall value seen from the application.
  • Reduced Contractual Flexibility
    As mentioned in the Advantages section, an Expansion Exhibit is established during the initial purchase of licenses.  While this helps to create predictability in terms of future costs, it also ties all future purchases of licenses together, effectively creating an ever growing single CSI under which all the licenses of a particular product are owned.  If the metric under which the product is owned suddenly decreases due to economic downturn, it is much more difficult to reduce the quantity of licenses for the product in question, due to Oracle’s repricing rules.
  • Limited Migration Paths:
    Many of Oracle’s license structures provide paths for converting licenses. The most common being from Named User Plus to Processor, or from Limited Use to Full Use.  Enterprise metrics on the other hand do not typically have straightforward migration paths should a client desire to move to a more traditional user based metric.  While it can be done, it generally involves a much more involved level of negotiation with Oracle.

Enterprise Metrics provide a great additional option for those licensing applications on premise, but what about in the Cloud?

Cloud Implications:

The Enterprise Metric applications discussed earlier can generally be utilized in the public cloud without concern for the underlying provider, or hardware on which the application is deployed.  The only exception would be if one’s contract with Oracle specifically forbids it, which can sometimes be the case in ULA and ELA situations.

Oracle also offers Enterprise Metrics in the Cloud.  Oracle’s Fusion Cloud Subscriptions include a number of products sold both under traditional Hosted User metrics and under Cloud Enterprise metrics such as Hosted Millions of Dollars in Revenue, Hosted Millions of Dollars in Freight under Management, and Hosted Employee.

Due to the fact that Cloud Services are subscription based, a customer may have more flexibility should it be deemed that the service is no longer needed, or the figure upon which the metric is based decreases.  A company can potentially have more opportunity to adjust during economic downturns than otherwise would exist with on premise solution.

However, it is important to note that any potential decrease in pricing would still need to be negotiated and even though there is a drop in the enterprise figure, new pricing for the reduced quantity may not lead to a linear change in price and could end up being the same.

One important consideration for any company is the fact that Fusion Cloud Services are not the same as the on premise applications that they aim to replace.  They have their own specific functionality, and often do not have the same level of customizability.  It is important to consider carefully the specific requirements for a given solution and whether the Cloud Service provides all the functionality needed for the on premise solution it will replace.

About Miro Consulting:
Miro is a leading global provider of software asset management and subscription services for Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, and Salesforce.  We specialize in License & Portfolio Optimization Reviews, Audit Advisory Services, Contract Negotiation Advisory, and Entitlement Management Services.  Contact us for more information.