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

By Tam Kyle, Senior License Consultant

So, at the end of my previous post on discovery tools, we had reached the point where you were probably going blind on a very large spreadsheet only to discover that you are still no further forward in establishing your compliance position.  In this post, I’ll explain why.

Ask yourself, how can you know if you are compliant based on usage information only?  What about your entitlement – what are you actually legally allowed to use?

Where discovery tools fall short is knowing what you are entitled to, i.e. what it says in your contract with Oracle.  Ah! This sounds like a job for the Procurement Department.  If you are lucky, you have a central Procurement Department that buys everything from staplers to Datacenters and therefore, you are more likely to strike lucky with whoever is responsible for buying all of the company’s software.

If however, you have decentralized purchasing and have Oracle users around the world, where on earth do you start?  Let’s assume for one second that you have managed to obtain what the procurement department thinks is all the correct Oracle contracts for everything they have ever bought over the last 5 years.  Firstly, do you really have all the contracts and secondly, do you actually understand what the contract is telling you?  Have contracts been amended, have products been novated – can they even be used now?

We have arrived at the preverbal ‘brick wall’.  Your tool has given you a pile of data which you think has uncovered your Oracle usage globally.  Additionally, you have a mountain of Oracle paperwork and zero understanding of the intricacies of Oracle’s license agreements to be able to interpret what you are allowed to use.   Not having a law degree is not helping either.

At this stage, it’s fair to say that many internal resources struggle to grasp the specialist technical Oracle skills required to firstly interpret tools output accurately (assuming that it has uncovered all Oracle usage), and furthermore, possess the Oracle contractual and commercial expertise to compare this usage with what you are entitled to use (or not, as the case may be).  Only when you have the complete and accurate picture, can you then be confident of your compliance position.

And it doesn’t end there – controlling and maintaining your license position once achieved is an ongoing, repetitive procedure requiring time, resource, controls, policies and methodologies, to be 100% effective.   A recurring Oracle SAM (software asset management) process is the best way to avoid unplanned or unnecessary license costs, extract maximum value from your existing investments (e.g. by license recycling) and mitigate the risk of reputational and vendor relationship damage caused by non-compliance.  How is your discovery tool going to cope with that (let alone your patience!)?

You might be thinking that your auto discovery/discovery tool is a little redundant right now – it’s probably worthwhile reminding yourself of what it can do – it can help find Oracle usage, providing you know where to look and what to look for.  As for the rest, talk to an Oracle licensing expert – they will help you understand what data you really need to gather – for both entitlement and usage, and the ongoing reconciliation and optimisation of your Oracle estate.

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