A Standard Way of Thinking Part I

By Paul Bullen, Senior License Consultant

Let me ask you a question. How does spending only a third of the price for Oracle database sound? Or even better, just over 10% of the usual price? You read that correctly: nearly 90% saving on capex and opex for Oracle Database. Well, you can buy a very capable Oracle database for a mere $5,800 per Processor list price: compare that against the ‘usual’ price of $47,500 per Processor for Enterprise Edition.

So what’s the difference? I’m talking here about the different Oracle database editions and the comparison between Enterprise Edition ($47.5k/Proc), Standard Edition ($17.5k/Proc) and Standard Edition One ($5,800/Proc). I’ll come back to Oracle Database Express Edition (which is free) at later date.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve reviewed hundreds of Oracle estates and we’ve seen roughly the following distributions of the different editions (note that we are excluding licenses acquired via Unlimited License Agreements, here):

  • 85% Enterprise Edition, 10% Standard Edition, 5% Standard Edition One

So, why is there such a large proportion of Enterprise Edition usage? Sometimes, the requirement is obvious: for example using extra cost options such as Partitioning, RAC or Diagnostics and Tuning Packs.

However, I think mostly the adoption of Enterprise Edition is a habit – one that with some care and foresight can be reduced: allowing you to reap the potentially massive savings.

Let’s break down the potential ‘blockers’ to Standard Edition which might be cited as reasons not to use it:

  • Hardware restrictions
  • Performance
  • Extra cost option usage
  • Support

Hardware restrictions

Standard Edition (SE) and Standard Edition One (SE1) have limitations surrounding the servers they can be deployed on: anything of an ‘enterprise class’ is not suitable for SE/SE1. In Oracle terms, this means any server with more than 4 sockets for SE and 2 sockets for SE1. It is important to note that sockets are counted if they are populated or not – it is the potential to add processors which is the limit here. So, a Sun M8000 with 4x SPARC VII processors cannot be licensed for Standard Edition as there are a total of 16 sockets (only 4 being occupied). So how about ‘hard partitioning’ your enterprise server into partitions with no more than 4 sockets? I’m afraid that is not allowed. You have to consider the physical number of sockets within the frame.

So what sort of server can you run Standard Edition on? Well, with 4 sockets and no core restrictions – you can have as many cores per processor as you like – you can actually have a very potent server: in the four sockets you are allowed, with the Intel E7-series chips (e.g. in a Dell R910), you could have 40 cores!!


Occasionally we have heard people comment that Standard Edition database is somehow deficient in performance compared to Enterprise Edition. There’s potential confusion here between Standard Edition and Express Edition. The latter does have limitations: for example, it will only ever run on one processor in the server regardless of how many are installed. However, unless you are using special or extra cost options, there is no reason Standard Edition cannot perform as well as Enterprise Edition. Indeed, Standard Edition is derived from the same code base as Enterprise Edition: they are very closely related products. With up to 40 cores (and who knows how many this will become in the next few years), database performance is unlikely to be a problem caused by the edition.

For information, a comparison between the database options can be found here – but we’ll discuss more about the options in the next blog post.

Remember, we are talking about potential savings of anything up to 90% here – Standard Edition really deserves consideration. Saving so much money should be a no-brainer: so why are more people not adopting other editions? There are some restrictions to what features you can use in Standard Edition, the hardware you can use it on, and the definition of a Processor: we’ll look at these in the next instalment. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


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