Standard Edition release licensing...


Standard Edition release is now available. Download it from the usual locations. But along with the great news, comes some news that is not so great: the licensing model has changed.

Note that all prices quoted below are from the Oracle Store,
Oracle Store

Database releases <= have three editions:
Enterprise Edition (EE), $47.5k per core
Standard Edition (SE), $17.5k per socket
Standard Edition 1 (SE1), $5.8k per socket

Releases >= have only two editions:
Enterprise Edition (EE), $47.5k per core
Standard Edition 2 (SE2), $17.5k per socket

The edition availability is documented here,
Oracle Database Editions

(Note that I'm not going to talk about Personal Edition or Express Edition, or Named User Plus licensing.)

EE is priced per core, with the cores being calculated by a "core factor", detailed here:
Core Factor Table

To pick out a couple of examples, if you have Intel or SPARC T4 processors you take the number of cores and divide by 2. So to licence EE on a machine with two 8 core Intel Xeon E7 chips will cost you $380k (plus support and all the EE options, less discount).

SE and SE1 are licensed per occupied socket, no matter how many cores or threads the chip in the socket has. So for SE you pay $17.5k per physical CPU, whether the CPU is a 4 core Intel chip or a SPARC T5 with 16 cores each of which runs 8 threads. SE includes RAC, but cannot be licensed for more than 4 sockets; the four can be in one machine, or in four clustered single CPU machines. SE1 does not include RAC, and cannot be installed in a machine with more than two sockets (occupied or not). So you could license a machine with two 8 core Intel Xeon E7 chips using SE1 for just $11.6k (plus support, less discount).

Now look at the licensing model for release There are only two editions: EE and SE2. EE licensing is unchanged. SE2 is priced at $17.5 per occupied socket, but is limited to a maximum of two sockets. RAC is included, so you could have either one server with two CPUs or a two node RAC with one CPU each.

Clearly, the SE licensing is a lot less attractive than before, if only because SE1 no longer exists for single CPU or twin CPU machines, and if you want more than two CPUs you have to buy EE. But it gets more awkward. This doc
Database Licensing

states that no SE2 database can use more than 16 CPU threads. So if you have a SPARC T4 with 64 threads (eight cores, eight threads each) you can use a single SE2 licence, but each database instance will occupy at most only one quarter of the machine. This is implemented in the same way as instance caging - but the DBA can't configure it.

I am not commenting on whether I think the pricing and licence model are justified or not, but I do want to emphasise the issues some users will face with regard to upgrade to

What if you already have a SPARC T4-1 server (price, $21k to $52k depending on options) and an SE1 licence? Your options would seem to be:
(a) Do not upgrade at all. Well, that is OK if you don't want any new features, and can live with going into extended support in one year (see MOS Doc ID 2027072.1)
(b) Upgrade, and accept that you are losing three quarters of your processing capacity.
(c) Convert your licence from SE1 to EE, and pay accordingly.

What if you already have a four node SE cluster? Your options are now
(a) Do not upgrade
(b) Upgrade to, and remove two nodes
(c) Convert from SE to EE, not forgetting that RAC is $23k per core on top of the EE cost.

I am not a licensing expert and of course nothing I say is in any way legally binding. But I can say that the change to the licensing model is going to cause some users considerable pain. So do not hang about - start investigating it now.
John Watson
Oracle Certified Master DBA


Commenting on my own blog article. How sad can one get?

Two updates:

First, it seems likely (though I have not tested it myself, and cannot link to a test by anyone I trust) that the 16 thread limit for SE2 applies to session server processes, not to the background processes. So it isn't as bad as it sounds. However, if you are running SE2 on, for example, a box with 64 threads you might still find that the machine is being underutilized even if the database is CPU bound. Depending on your hardware, you could try disabling the threading capability so that each running process can get a complete core rather than a threaad in a core. For SPARC Tn and Mn chips this used to be done by setting threading=max-ipc rather than the default of threading=max-throughput but this is nor officially deprecated in favour of using what tey call "Complete Power". Michel provided a link to this relevant discussion,

Second, you have no choice about upgrade! the latest is that SE and SE1 will be removed from the price list on 1 December 2015. So you have 81 days left to buy SE1 licences.

I have one remark. It's even worse.

Unfortunately after 1 year ( August 2016 ) there's no option to stay with SE/SE1 and go to Extended Support. You'll go into the Sustaining Support, which means no patches at all.
According to the Oracle Lifetime Support, Extended Support for these two editions is not available.

Kamil Raczynski