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It’s often said that Oracle Licensing Audits are conducted at random. Oracle themselves maintain this position.
However, it isn’t strictly true.
There are a range of scenarios that are sure to increase the likelihood of Oracle’s LMS (License Management Service) and GLAS (Global Licensing and Advisory Services) putting in an audit request.
But what are these scenarios, and how can you avoid them?
We’ve collated five of the key Oracle Licensing Audit triggers to help you anticipate a potential upcoming audit. Already received a licensing audit letter from Oracle? Find out the best way to prepare with a free License Audit Protection Strategy.
Conducting a Hardware Refresh
It’s well known that Oracle users are audited every 3-5 years on average.
The simple reason for this is that organisations usually undergo hardware refreshes during this time period. Optimising performance is a key goal for any business, and stripping out the older hardware in place of better-performing tech is essential in order to stay ahead of the technological curve.
The Forrester Report, commissioned by Dell in 2019, is largely consistent with this. It found that the average frequency of server refreshes is approximately 3.98 years.
New technology means more power. And more power means more cores or processors that are required to be licensed. And this is where the first of our five Oracle Licensing Audit triggers comes in.
Oracle’s LMS/GLAS use this logic to approximate whether a business is likely to have undergone a hardware refresh, and therefore whether they’re worth auditing. Not all users are aware of their licensing obligations.
For example, if your organisation expands your estate with a hardware refresh, you’ll require more licenses. But if this hasn’t been handled properly by an experienced Oracle licensing partner, you could find yourself under-licensed and therefore non-compliant.
To frame another example – you may have kept your estate to a similar size, but your new database has more processors or cores. And if the refresh hasn’t taken into account Oracle’s Processor Core Factor, you could be accidentally under-licensed and subject to a hefty fine.
So, if you’ve recently undergone a hardware refresh and Oracle gets wind of it, expect a letter from LMS or GLAS – the only formal bodies that can compel your organisation to comply with an audit.
Similarly, if your previous audit was over 3 years ago, you should expect a letter any time between a few weeks and a couple of years*.
*This is, of course, an average approximation
Reducing your Support Agreements or Solutions
Have you recently lowered any support agreements with Oracle? Alternatively, have you acquired any 3rd-party solutions as alternatives?
If so, you’re likely to be lined up for an audit because this is another of the more common Oracle Licensing Audit triggers.
This is, from Oracle’s perspective, a means to ensure that the remaining Oracle solutions or services you’re using are properly licensed. (It’s also an opportunity to try and nudge you into remaining within the Oracle ecosystem!).
For example, if you’re currently paying for Oracle extended support but decide not to renew this and choose to look for alternatives (either with, or away from Oracle), you may receive a letter from LMS/GLAS requesting a licensing audit.
Mergers and Acquisitions
If you’ve recently undergone a merger or acquisition, it’s highly likely that an Oracle Licensing Audit will follow.
This is because mergers and acquisitions are complex processes. There are a whole host of financial, legal, and compliance-related issues to resolve. Therefore, it’s not unrealistic for a company that is not as aware of Oracle’s licensing rules to forget about reviewing the use of licenses across all of the businesses involved in the merger or acquisition.
And actually, this happens more frequently than you’d think. Some simply complete their acquisition, fulfill the necessary paperwork and legal requirements, and then conduct business as usual – without assessing whether the child (or sister) company is properly licensed for Oracle.
Sometimes, you can even be non-compliant on the contract alone. Failure to update the MSA (Master Service Agreement) to incorporate the other businesses is an automatic non-compliance issue – if the merged or acquired businesses use Oracle in any capacity.
In any case, failure to purchase the necessary additional licenses (or, crucially, to update your Oracle Master Agreement to include subsidiaries) could result in non-compliance.
If you wish to avoid a fine of potentially millions of pounds, it’s imperative that Oracle licensing is factored into your compliance audits. It’s highly recommended that you consult an independent Oracle licensing professional for an Oracle License Review of your estate too.
A History of Repeated Non-Compliance
Has your organisation previously been found to be non-compliant by Oracle LMS/GLAS?
If so, the chances are that you could be subject to an Oracle Licensing Audit again within the next couple of years.
Why is this? Well, it’s purely a simple numbers game.
On one hand, some businesses learn from their non-compliance and put procedures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. After all, non-compliance fines can easily reach into the millions. That’s typically enough of a deterrent.
On the other hand, plenty of businesses do not.
So, from Oracle’s point of view, if a customer has been found to be non-compliant in the past (by accident or otherwise) and handed a hefty fine, there’s a strong chance they could be non-compliant again in the future.
This is why – amongst other reasons – that it’s prudent to ensure that your estate is properly licensed. This is even more important if you’ve been found to be non-compliant in a previous Oracle Licensing Audit.
Submission of Support Tickets for Unlicensed Technology
Sometimes, you’ll require urgent assistance from Oracle if something goes wrong. Or perhaps your managed database support partner may need to submit a support ticket to Oracle on your behalf.
If this support ticket includes references to Oracle features or technology that seemingly aren’t included in your Master Service Agreement, you can expect to be contacted shortly after by LMS or GLAS.
This is because, unless there’s an error, it indicates under-licensing on your behalf.
This situation can arise if an organisation has retention issues. It can also occur if a company’s DBA training is insufficient and new starters are not made aware of existing licensing obligations.
One such situation could be if you’re submitting a support ticket, you may be asked for log files using tools such as Trace File Analyser (TFA). This will enable Oracle support to see your exact system configuration in order to provide support, meaning that if you’re using any features or running on virtualisation, Oracle will know!
And if you are using unlicensed features (no matter how accidental), Oracle will pursue this feverishly.
These are just five of the more common Oracle Licensing Audit triggers, but we have also compiled a list of 7 of the most costly Oracle Licensing Pitfalls. These are common errors, often accidental, that can result in eye-watering punitive figures.
If you fall into any of these five categories, it’s definitely worth speaking to your trusted Oracle Licensing Partner about a License Review of your estate. Whilst it cannot offer a cast-iron guarantee of compliance, it does offer much-needed clarity and guidance for your business. This will help ensure that your estate remains in good order.
In any case, Oracle license non-compliance fines far exceed any estate review fees, so it’s always recommended to have an independent expert review your estate once in a while.
Xynomix has unrivalled experience across the full range of Oracle and Microsoft SQL server database environments. As industry-leaders in managed database services and consultancy, we are perfectly positioned to offer independent enterprise-grade support to keep your critical systems up and performing perfectly. Get in touch now on 0345 222 9600 or via [email protected].