How to Manage Named Users – Part 4

By Paul Bullen, Technical License Consultant at Rocela

Last time we looked why the ‘multi-server’ domain may require more management. Today, we’re going to look at database editions and options.

Database editions and options

It’s worth pointing out here that there are further complexities to consider – each Named User should be allocated a license for each product they use. So, if a user is accessing an Oracle Enterprise Edition database with the partitioning option, they need a license for both products.

Likewise, Named Users accessing Standard Edition (or Standard Edition One) databases will need both a Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition database license if they have access to each edition.

Combining these database options and editions with server-based minimums (below) and multi-server access only serves to make managing Named Users even harder!

The best approach for database options is to consider teams of people by role. This can be done by grouping people by their access to services. You can map those services to database servers, determine what products each role will require a license for and then consider whether these users access other systems with the same, or lesser options.

Going back to our database administrators we mentioned earlier—as they have access to all database servers in the estate, they will need a license for every product in use across that estate.

This process is not trivial, and unfortunately this is one of the most complicated aspects of Named User licensing.      As with all Oracle licensing, the onus is on the licensee to ensure access is controlled, monitored and managed appropriately—you must understand how your Named User licenses map to your user estate and the products actually in use.

The diagram below shows a simple example of this with two role-based groups of users. In the middle are three different database servers these users can potentially access, each with a slightly different combination of Oracle database and options.

The call centre staff on the left are only able to access the top system (according to their licenses—there is nothing technically stopping their access but this would be against their entitlement), however the data warehouse users are able to access all three systems. Should all the call centre staff require access to either of the other systems, their entire user population would need the additional purchase of Partitioning and possibly Data Mining.

Mandatory Minimums

Oracle, famous for its complex licensing models, has added an associated minimum on these metrics based on hardware specifications, an element which must be measured and tracked in order to track correct usage.

The minimum Named User Plus for Oracle Enterprise Edition Database is 25 per ‘processor’. The word processor here refers to an Oracle calculated processor—this is a function of the number of cores per processor, the total number of processors and the type of processor (we’re ignoring anything like virtualisation at this stage). Once this value is calculated, each server must have at least the minimum of 25 per processor applied.

So, let’s take a ‘simple’ example. I have a Sun M3000 server, with 4xSPARC VII processors. Each processor has 2 cores. So there are a total of 8 cores in this server. According to Oracle’s core-factor table, the SPARC VII processor has a core factor of 0.75. So 8 cores with a core factor of 0.75 gives 6 Oracle ‘processors’.

With a minimum of 25 Named User Plus per ‘processor’, this server would be subject to a minimum of 150 Named User Plus. We cannot allocate any less than 150 Named User Plus to this server, even if the user population for the database(s) on this server is less. However, if there are 200 individuals (as defined by the Named User Plus metric) for these databases on this server, we would have to purchase 200 Named User Plus to the server.

Named User minimums and Oracle ‘processors’ are a separate subject in themselves, however the above gives some guidelines as to what must be allocated.

Summary of Named User licensing

Over the course of four blog entries we have looked at Oracle’s Named User metrics. This should give an indication of the amount of effort and understanding required to properly use this metric.

We have not considered all aspects of these metrics in these posts—there are plenty more nuances (such as batching, minimums according to database editions, older metrics) – but Named User Plus licensing offers some huge cost benefits if used properly, however this comes at the cost of managing the user population and ensuring correct levels of coverage. The key messages to take away from this is:

  • Named User metrics can be much cheaper than processor
  • Named User metrics need management
  • Named Users can rarely be accurately measured from your databases
  • Count individual people or devices, group them by role and the services/products they have access to
  • Manage these users and your pool of licenses
  • Seek expert advice to understand your usage and license entitlement better

It’s clear that the Named User metric is extremely complicated. But there is potential for your organisation to reduce its financial risk by ensuring Oracle licence compliance. By know how the Name User metrics work you can also place yourself in a better position to negotiate with Oracle and ultimately manage your investment better. If in doubt, there are always expert consultants available to help you and your organisation.

How to manage Named Users (Part 2)

By Paul Bullen, Technical License Consultant at Rocela

In the last post, we started to explain the Named User-type licenses by defining the term. And we also started to look at how understanding it’s measurement can make all the difference to taking full advantage of this Oracle licensing metric.

In this post, we move on to consider some of the complexities of this licensing metric in more detail. We look into questions such as; how do you measure Named Users, and what is the best way to track Named Users?

Hopefully, you’ll remember from the last post that Named User licenses apply to individuals or devices interacting with the Oracle software on your servers. So you should be able to measure them easily from your databases, right?

Well, despite appearing easy and intuitive, measuring Named Users generically based on databases is actually a dead-end. We’ll look at why in a second.

Database users

Oracle databases have a users table (dba_users). You may think that you can simply find out the number of users recorded in this table and use it as your Named User count for that database. Unfortunately, as with many things Oracle, it’s not that simple. These database user accounts do not map 1:1 with Named Users, and there is no flag to classify users.

In order to prove this, we’ve just logged on to a small test database. In this database I’m the only Named User, however it has 21 database user accounts. The example below demonstrates what a list of database users could look like in this instance:

  • app_user: used by an application server, which actually allows 250 Named Users to connect as one user identifier (this is a ‘multi-plexing front-end’ in Oracle’s terminology)
  • app_object_owner: an account which stores application objects, and could be used by anyone in the application support team or the database administration team
  • system: an account which is used for database administration, so there could be a number of people using this single account
  • paul_bullen: maybe this is an account that maps to a single Named User account. However, if this user was to give his password to someone else, two Named User licenses would be required
  • paulbullen02: this may be the same Named User as ‘paul_bullen’ but there may be an additional user

This example should point out that you cannot reliably or generically measure Named Users from a database. You may be lucky and have an application, which holds Named User-type information (SAP is a good example), but you still need to consider the non-application user accounts in the database.

If you really want to get your measurement and reporting on this licensing metric up to scratch, it’s time to start looking at users in more detail on an application basis. To do this you have to realise that counting Named Users is a matter of knowing your application architecture and the individual users of the application thoroughly.

Your knowledge of application architecture and the individual users of applications is what Oracle is gambling against with its licensing metrics. And this is exactly how you can win, by making a few strategic decisions up front. You should ask yourself; am I going to be able to accurately count and track Named Users? You need to be clear on the answer, as Oracle requires you to purchase the (typically) more expensive processor license if you cannot count your Named Users properly.


A simple example of how it should be done:

The diagram above shows the way you should approach simple Named User calculations: count the users of the system (including devices which access the database) and any people who have access to the database. All of them have to be counted regardless of the architecture of the infrastructure.

In this instance, the diagram indicates that you will need licenses for 68 Named Users (ignoring minimums). It is critical that the number of people using the system in each department is tracked. So, you have to be very clear on how you’ll monitor things such as employees leaving or joining the company. You will also have to take into account things such giving an additional department access to the application: each ‘user-related’ decision will have an effect on the total number of Named Users licenses.

This is just a simple example, and you have to remember with more systems, more users, more servers and user minimums to consider it can be very complicated to keep track of Named Users. But doing so is vital in order to understand your compliance position, not to mention save costs.

In Part 3:
Next week we’ll look at Named User minimums, some potential pitfalls and what ‘multi-server’ Named User licenses mean.

For now, if this post has struck a chord with you, do add your thoughts in the comments.

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