Declaring an Oracle Unlimited License Agreement – Part II

Paul Bullen, Senior License Consultant, Rocela

My previous blog entry discussed the importance of making sure your staff understands what an Oracle ULA means to them and how they use Oracle software. I also mentioned that on-going management of your software deployment during a ULA is even more important than ‘normal’ licensing.

One of the reasons I mentioned tracking your software deployment during the entire term of the ULA was to ensure that you are getting the value you expected out of your investment. The other reason is so that you can accurately declare your usage of the ULA products when the Unlimited Deployment Period has finished.

To recap, with a ULA, you buy the right to use as much of the defined product as you wish during a set period (typically 3 years, but can be between 2 and 5 years), at the end of this period, you declare your usage of the product and this should become your perpetual license: your usage effectively ‘crystallises’ at this declared number and you then own that many licenses to do with as you would any other normal Oracle perpetual license.

If you do not track your usage throughout the term of the ULA, you may find yourself frantically undertaking an Oracle audit of your own usage on the run up to the declaration date: doing so may mean you ‘miss’ installations (and hence they are not licensed) or you count incorrectly. Measuring for an Oracle ULA is not quite the same as for ‘normal’ Oracle licensing—there are some small but important differences between the definitions.

Once you have measured your deployment (and let’s be honest, tracking and counting Oracle software accurately can be very difficult), you need to fill in a declaration form: this is what Oracle will use as the basis for your perpetual license. However, it is worth bearing in mind that there is a potential for audit at this point—understandably, Oracle need to be reassured you are actually using the software you are declaring to them and not just making up a number: they may ask to review your inventory and you should be prepared to share this with them. This is another reason to make sure you invest in this process and that you thoroughly understand your estate and the terms of the ULA.

As this is the last in the series of blog posts for ULAs, I’ll try and summarise:

• ULAs are a very powerful and beneficial (usually) way of licensing Oracle. They are significant purchases that require assessment and planning.
• You may use as much of the software as you like during the period of the ULA
• There is no true up, the opex and capex are set from the start
• Education and ‘awareness raising’ about the ULA is key to it being used correctly
• On-going usage tracking and management are even more important with a ULA
• ULAs are a significant investment and should be negotiated, managed and declared with expert advice

If you are considering a ULA and need to understand the basics, have a ULA and require assistance managing, or are approaching your ULA expiry and need help deciding on declaration or new purchase, then contact us for assistance. As you have been reading, we know a great deal about ULA’s and can steer you in the right direction.

Declaring an Oracle Unlimited License Agreement – Part I

Paul Bullen, Senior License Consultant Rocela

Last time we took a very high-level view of what you need to consider if you are weighing up purchasing an Oracle Unlimited License Agreement (ULA). Let’s now assume that your projections and the cost of a ULA make it worthwhile and you’ve gone ahead and entered into a ULA: well done! So what now?

Firstly, you must communicate the ULA purchase internally and what it allows the appropriate software users (anyone who can influence the amount of Oracle software your business will deploy) to do. It is important that full details of what the terms of the ULA and the products involved are passed on. Forwarding a copy of the Ordering Document to the DBAs is definitely not the best way to do this: DBAs generally won’t have the inclination to read the details of commercial documents! Instead, you must distil the content and tell people what products are available for unlimited deployment, and for how long they remain unlimited.

This seems obvious, but from our extensive experience working with customers who own ULAs, it is clear that often over 30 pages of ordering document can sometimes dangerously be interpreted as:

“Use as much Oracle software as you want!”

There’s a real danger that the actual allowance and detail of the ULA gets lost between those who negotiated it and those who ultimately use the software (this is a problem outside of ULAs as well, but the potential risk when the belief that all Oracle software is available for unlimited use is bigger).

So, assuming your staff know what products they can use and for how long, do you wait until a month before the ULA declaration date and then start preparing to declare? If anything, owning a ULA means you have to pay more attention to SAM and the amount of software you deploy and use: you need to know that you are following or exceeding your forecast – there is little point in having a ULA and not gaining the return you expected. In fact, there is a danger that you deploy far less of the software than forecast (e.g. change of product choice, cancellation of a project) and suddenly the whole business case for the ULA is no longer valid.

Your ULA is a massive investment for your company: it is worth putting effort and time into ensuring it is being used properly as well as having your methods and usage reviewed by an independent expert such as Rocela.

There have been a number of occasions where we have seen clients with a ULA who do not fully understand how to use them. I’ll keep repeating the same message:

A ULA allows you to deploy an unlimited amount of a set of products for a one-off upfront capital cost upon which the support is based. There is no true up; there is no change to the support fee (excluding RPI).

So, to summarise:

• Ensure your software users understand what the ULA allows them to use, and how

Track your Oracle software deployment: not just the ULA products but related products

• Ensure you compare your usage against your ULA business case

• ULAs are huge investments and should be properly managed and reviewed during their course

• Use your ULA: understand and take advantage of its features

Next time we’ll take a look at declaring your ULA in more detail. In the meantime, please ask any questions or leave any comments below.

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