SAM for Oracle – discovery tools are only half the battle, maybe a quarter, even … (Part 1)

by Tam Kyle, Senior Consultant License Optimisation

Managing a large, dispersed Oracle license estate is complex.  Not only do you need to take account of complicated license agreements, ever changing metrics and the pace of technology change (consolidation, virtualization etc), but at the rate Oracle is acquiring new products, this mammoth task is only getting larger and more complicated – a trend not expected to slow down either!

Let’s face it – today’s SAM/IT Managers have a considerable challenge on their hands – the task they’re faced with is something akin to pushing treacle up a hill.  Putting aside specific Oracle product complexity for a moment, consider what’s happening within today’s organisations; restructuring, divestments, acquisitions, projects starting, delivering and stalling.  Add adoption of current buzz technologies such as consolidation and virtualisation – well, I hear a can of worms being opened somewhere.

Additionally, we need to consider the cultural aspect.  What I mean by that is how behaviours, lack of proper controls and change within an organisation can also pile complexity onto complexity.  A disregard of IT policies on software downloading, a misunderstanding of license contracts and how these relate, and inter-relate technically to actual software will all contribute to the inability to control software assets and can unintentionally and unknowingly create a compliance issue. And don’t get me started on the challenges associated with ULA’s ……

Further, this complexity and challenge means that far too many companies spend their time fitfully trying to understand their current license position, and completely miss out on the next-phase goal of license re-use and optimisation.

So, in an attempt to manage these ever growing Oracle license estates in a constantly changing business environment, large enterprise organisations often make use of a myriad of discovery tools.  This seemingly ‘Silver Bullet’ is well intentioned – you now have the tools to find a good proportion of usage data in your company, that is of course, if you know where to look, and what to look for – but let’s not worry too much about that right now.

Let’s say your discovery tool has done its job and found lots of ‘data’.  Congratulations.  Now what?  This ‘data’ (probably a great big spreadsheet or database) needs analysis, interpretation, 100% confidence that you have searched in every server in all locations, in all environments (live, development and DR!) and a considerable amount of time and experience before you can fully proclaim that you have a handle on your company’s Oracle usage.  We’ll also conveniently ignore the fact that some Oracle usage metrics cannot be measured: Named Users are a classic example: no script or interrogation will generically give you your Named User requirements, as well as the fact that no one tool can detect or measure all Oracle products.

Well, that’s that job done … eh, well … are you any further forward in being able to clarify your compliance position?  Unfortunately, the answer at this stage is no.

In Part II of my blog, I’ll explain why.

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