This is an independent review and comparison of specialist tools for managing Oracle licensing.
Whilst Oracle has hundreds of product lines, ITAM Review readers told us that the proliferation of Oracle databases and their configuration was a key concern. It should also be noted that Oracle tool verification (detailed below) only pertains to Oracle Enterprise Edition databases. So this review predominantly focuses on technology to identify and manage Oracle databases.
Buyers Guide – Questions to ask suppliers
The following points should be considered when selecting a tool to manage Oracle Licensing and formed the basis of our review and initial conversations with suppliers. Questions to ask:
- Do you sell or profit from Oracle Licensing?
- Is your company an Oracle partner, verified or in any way affiliated with Oracle?
- Besides the product/service being reviewed – what services do you offer that support clients with the management of their Oracle estate? (E.g. Audit defence, license reconciliation, consulting etc.)
- Please provide a high level overview of any features or deliverables that aid Oracle license management
- What specific product lines / product families does your product / service work with? E.g. is it just Oracle databases or do you also work with other products or product families? PeopleSoft / Siebel / BEA / JDE and other Business Apps. Please specify the limitations or scope of Oracle coverage.
- How are instances and installs of Oracle identified? How is data verified and false positives identified?
- How are the configurations of Oracle products and accessible options identified and managed?
- Please describe any features relevant to managing Oracle in virtual environments
- How does your technology / service interact or support the Oracle LMS auditing and review process (e.g. Provision of data, population of Oracle Server Worksheets, working with LMS, Oracle verified status etc.)
- Please provide a high level summary of any features or deliverables that aid clients with Oracle negotiations and reducing Oracle spend
If there any other key considerations for managing Oracle please share them via a comment below.
Competitive Differentiators – Managing Oracle Databases
Through the review process we identified twelve key technical features to consider when managing Oracle Licensing:
- DISCOVERY – does your technology auto-discover the existence of Oracle databases
- AGENT or AGENTLESS scanning options
- HARDWARE – track the underlying hardware of Oracle database instances (Hardware specification, processors, cores)
- VIRTUAL – calculate whether an Oracle database instance is installed within a virtual machine and track the virtual to physical relationship
- CLUSTER – identify whether an Oracle database instance is connected or otherwise related to other virtual instances
- SOFTWARE – track the version of Oracle database
- USERS – track the user list of the Oracle database
- OPTIONS & PACKS – track whether Oracle database options are a) Installed and b) In use c) When they were switched on
- ROOT CAUSE – identify why Oracle database packs and options were switched on
- OSW – auto-populate Oracle Server Worksheet
- REPORTING – Assist in calculating compliance or generating relevant reports to support compliance and optimization
- ARCHITECTURE OPTIMIZATION – Forecast alternate configurations – meet the same technical goals using simpler or cheaper methods.
I found point 12 particularly interesting and represents where the SAM market is going. It represents the next maturity step beyond compliance. “Now that we have proven compliance – let us optimize our architecture so we’re delivering the same or better technical solution with a more efficient or suitable licensing structure”. Partners have a key role to play here in helping customers structure their architecture in a way that gets the job done whilst tip-toeing through contractual terms.
Easytrust and Lime are specifically focused towards managing Oracle only; Flexera, HP and Snow all manage a broad range of other software publishers.
It’s a big ask and unrealistic to expect your SAM tool investment to cover every single known device and software application known to man, from your mobile device to the software on a mainframe. SAM Software providers are vying for this space, but we’re not there yet.
Organizations typically need a blend of tools to get the job done. Depending on your individual scope – it might be appropriate to use a main SAM tool here, a tactical tool there, a partner to help a bit over there and so on.
Software Publisher Coverage
Specialist Oracle Only
General License Management
Oracle began verifying tools in 2010 with the aim of benchmarking the output of tools against the output of Oracle LMS internal tools.
If you run an Oracle LMS script in your environment, the output is raw data. Your choice is to either pass that raw data to Oracle for interpretation, sieve through it yourself or work with a third party. The Oracle verification process recognizes third party tools that interpret data to an appropriate standard.
The business advantage here is mainly a political one; you can understand your Oracle install position without necessarily engaging with the Oracle LMS team. So to a degree, verified tools provide a buffer between Oracle LMS and your organization. Theoretically customers should be more autonomous in managing their license position as a result. I say ‘theoretically’, because even an organization that has a 100% perfectly accurate view of their Oracle installations has only one half of the compliance story. Recent conversations with organizations via the Campaign for Clear Licensing suggests that even the most innocuous licensing enquiry to Oracle LMS can trigger an audit.
At the time of writing all the tools reviewed were Oracle verified with the exception of Snow. From what I have seen there are no limitations to Snow meeting the requirements, all they lack is the all important rubber stamp from Oracle, which I understand is pending.
Our review was quite close (See the features comparison table below). I would argue that the Oracle tool verification process is responsible for this – setting a clear watermark on what is required. Oracle is not everyone’s favourite software publisher, but they should be recognized for setting a standard for inventory. I wish other publishers would do the same.
More on the Oracle tool verification process here: https://www.itassetmanagement.net/2013/10/29/oracle-tool-verification/
Oracle Verified (as of March 2014)
Key Features Comparison – Oracle License Management
The table below compares the five participants in our review against the twelve key competitive requirements. Click on the image to enlarge it.
The image is also available directly here:
Setting Expectations and Silver Bullets
In summary, many tools on the market can track the existence of Oracle – but only a handful can truly identify how Oracle is configured – which is where the risk lies.
Software Asset Management is never an out-of-the-box experience and never is this more the case than with Oracle. The technology reviewed is focussed at helping generate the necessary configuration detail required to populate an Oracle Server Worksheet. There is much work to do beyond this point, expect to call upon the services of an Oracle Licensing specialist even if you have these tools deployed (A point echoed in our Oracle podcast).
BEST IN CLASS – LIME SOFTWARE
SAM is first and foremost a governance process – identifying and managing risk.
Given the impact and financial risk associated with Oracle in large enterprises – I felt that Lime Software went the extra mile in terms of the verification of data, had good coverage of Oracle License Management features and is competitively priced. Just because Oracle is eye-wateringly expensive doesn’t mean the tools to manage it have to be equally expensive and complicated.
Deep Dive [Coming Soon]
Click on the links below for a deep dive into the capabilities of each vendor [Coming soon].
DISCLAIMER, SCOPE & LIMITATIONS
The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created. Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed. Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline and not as the ultimate source of truth.
Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study. The ITAM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.
This is a paid review. That is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge without registration.
For further information please read the ‘Group Tests’ section on our Disclosure page.
About Martin Thompson
Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.
On a voluntary basis Martin a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.
Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.