A Standard Way of Thinking – Final Part

Written by Paul Bullen, Senior License Consultant

In my previous blog posts on Standard Edition (Part 1, Part 2), I referred to the massive reduction in price from Enterprise Edition to Standard (92% in our typical example). Hopefully you’ve had some time to realise that Standard Edition is a viable database edition and could, with some discussion, potentially replace some use of Enterprise Edition in your company. In this last blog post, we’ll look at Named User Plus licensing for Standard Edition and summarise my previous blogs posts.

So, hopefully you’ll remember from my earlier blog post that Named User Plus licensing is not trivial, and needs careful management. With that in mind, let’s look at the differences with Named User Plus on Standard Edition.
With Enterprise Edition database, you have to license the greater of either the actual users of the software or the ‘Named User Plus minimums’. This can get messy; especially with database options (read this). Most people think of the minimums of 25 NUP per Processor when considering NUP licensing for DB EE.

So, what is the minimum for DB SE? The answer is a simple ‘5’; No, not 5 per Processor, you must own at least 5 NUP licenses in your company; if you have 5 Named Users, 5 NUP licenses and 1,000 servers running Standard Edition, you would be licensed correctly. So, 5 is the answer.

This lack of minimums makes a massive difference across a large estate. Consider that each set of 25 DB EE NUP will cost $23,750 (list price) and that for Standard Edition this will be zero, you can probably see that the savings soon start to mount.

It brings the Named User Plus metric back to a point of common sense: you buy an SE Named User Plus license for everyone who uses Oracle, simple as that. You have no minimums to calculate or track; you have no database options to mess things up. You get an effective and capable product for a reasonable price, and therefore reasonable on-going support costs.

So, to wrap things up:

  • Standard Edition database is a very capable product and can probably run most of your workload
  • SE is significantly cheaper than Enterprise Edition database: we are talking over 70% savings on capex and opex here
  • Unless you specifically need Oracle’s extra cost options or management packs, there are very mature and cheaper alternative products available

In my view, Standard Edition database should be your “Standard way of thinking” i.e. your database edition of choice if you want to get best value and reduce costs: Enterprise Edition should be used as an exception. As with any large change, it is always worth consulting the experts before you undertake a significant change to your current or future estate (as we could save you even more!)

Please feel free to ask me any questions on this or any other Oracle licensing related topics.

A Standard Way of Thinking Part Two

by Paul Bullen, Senior License Consultant

In my last blog post, I introduced the basics regarding Oracle Database Standard Edition. To recap, Standard Edition/Standard Edition One is a very capable and high-performing database, which is limited by the socket capability of your server (maximum of 4 sockets for SE, 2 for SE1) and the inability to license and use some database options against your database: but all for a mere fraction of the price of Enterprise Edition. Note a key point here – it’s the capability of the server in terms of socket count that’s the restriction – not what’s actually deployed. If you have an 8 socket server that has only 2 sockets occupied, then SE/SE1 aren’t viable options.

But when it is viable, the potential savings are higher than I told you last time due to the way a Processor is defined for Standard Edition.

Expanding on the pricing model for Standard Edition, you are allowed to run any number of cores in those 4 sockets and you pay by the occupied socket, NOT by the core. Let’s look at the Dell R910 we mentioned last time. This has 4 sockets and so is fine for Standard Edition. Let’s not go daft here and just assume it actually has 2x Intel E7-2800 processors installed, with 10 cores per processor – and we are going to license it with the Processor metric (because we are very careful about using Named User Plus for licensing)

For Enterprise Edition, we need to do a quick calculation to work out the number of licensable ‘Oracle Processors’, i.e. take the core factor into account. So processors multiplied by cores per processor multiplied by appropriate core factor gives us:

2 x 10 x 0.5 = 10 Oracle Processors (for Enterprise Edition)
10 Oracle Processors (Enterprise Edition) at $47,500 each = $475,000 list license cost

Wow. Standard Edition is a bit easier – 2 occupied sockets give us 2 Oracle Processors;
2 Oracle Processors (Standard Edition) at $17,500 each = $35,000 list license cost

There’s no typo here. SE is 92% cheaper!! When you consider on-going support costs, this is significant.
Hopefully your interest is raised: why would you not go for Standard Edition? The main reason we hear is because some database options cannot be used in Standard Edition. Let’s clear one thing up straight away. RAC (Real Application Clusters) can be used with Standard Edition (not Standard Edition One), and best of all, in this case RAC will be free. Yes: you pay nothing to use RAC with Standard Edition! You have to split the 4-socket limit across the RAC cluster, so typically you’ll be looking at two servers each with two sockets, though you could have a 4 by 1-socket node cluster.

The database options ‘missing’ which seem to cause most pain or an issue to adopting Standard Edition are Diagnostics, Tuning packs and Data Guard. Each DBA and organisation has its own standards for supporting and managing database so it is hard to undermine or question them here however, given the cost savings, a review of any such standards is worthwhile.

It is also worth bearing in mind that for the three options mentioned, there are very good third party tool vendor solutions which offer very similar (and sometimes more mature) capabilities and are specifically built and marketed to function with Standard Edition.

Hopefully these posts are giving you a flavour of the potential that Standard Edition Database could have for your organisation: with everyone currently looking to reduce costs and demonstrate savings, Standard Edition (and our expertise!) may be your saviour. Next time we’ll look at some other ‘quirks’ of Standard Edition. I’m not going to have space here to go over every aspect of Standard Edition, so please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime especially if you are thinking of making the strategy change to Standard Edition.

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!!

Performance

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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