Oracle Licensing VMware – Demystifying Licensing

Oracle Licensing VMware

  • ESXi Up to 5.0: License all physical cores in ESXi hosts with shared storage.
  • ESXi 5.1 to 6.0: License all physical cores in the same vCenter Server Instance due to vMotion.
  • vCenter 6.0 and Later: License all physical cores across all vCenter Server Instances due to cross-instance vMotion capabilities.

Introduction Oracle Licensing VMware

Oracle Licensing Requirements for VMware

Oracle licensing on VMware can be a complex and costly endeavor for organizations. Understanding the implications of licensing Oracle software in virtualized environments, particularly with VMware, is crucial. This article delves into Oracle’s virtualization technologies, licensing implications across different VMware versions, and strategies for managing Oracle licenses on VMware.

Oracle Virtualization and Licensing Basics

What is Oracle Virtualization?

Oracle virtualization technologies, including VMware, enable organizations to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical server. This flexibility and efficiency are beneficial but also bring complexities in licensing Oracle software, such as databases and middleware, which are typically licensed using the “Processor” or “Named User Plus” models.

Licensing Models

  • Processor Licensing: Based on the number of physical processor cores.
  • Named User Plus Licensing: Based on the number of individual users.

Oracle’s licensing terms specify that software must be licensed for “where the Oracle programs are installed and/or running,” which complicates matters in virtualized environments.

VMware Versions and Licensing Implications

vmware oracle licensing

ESXi Up to 5.0

In vSphere ESXi versions up to 5.0, shared storage is required to move VMs with Oracle installed. Oracle mandates licensing all physical ESXi hosts’ physical cores connected to this shared storage.

ESXi 5.1 and Later

Starting with vSphere ESXi 5.1, shared storage is no longer necessary for live migration of VMs using vMotion. This means VMs can move across any host within the vCenter Server Instance. Consequently, Oracle requires licensing all physical cores of all ESXi hosts within the same vCenter Server Instance.

VMware 6.0 and Later

With vCenter Server 6.0 and higher, VMs can move across different vCenter Server Instances. Oracle mandates licensing all physical cores of all ESXi hosts in all vCenter Server Instances, significantly increasing potential licensing costs.

Managing Oracle Licenses in VMware Environments

Strategies for Managing Oracle Licenses

Common Approaches

  1. Paying Oracle’s Demands: Some companies pay whatever Oracle demands, often entering Oracle Unlimited License Agreements (ULAs) to cover their licensing needs, which can be very costly.
  2. Contractual Amendments: Some companies negotiate contractual amendments with Oracle, agreeing to perform storage and network isolation to limit licensing requirements. However, this solution is often restrictive and challenging to implement.
  3. Refusing Oracle’s Terms: Some organizations refuse to comply with Oracle’s licensing terms, even when audit reports show large licensing gaps. If the customer refuses to pay, these audits often remain unresolved.
  4. Isolated Environments: Some companies create bare-metal or isolated virtualized environments to comply with Oracle’s virtualization rules. New Oracle deployments are moved to these specific environments.
  5. Following VMware Advice: Some customers follow VMware’s advice, which Oracle does not recognize, leading to potential compliance issues.
  6. Migrating Workloads: Moving Oracle workloads to other platforms like Oracle AWS, Azure, Oracle Private Appliance, or Oracle Cloud, which offer more flexible licensing models, can reduce costs.

Oracle Network and Storage Isolation Agreement

Ring-Fencing Oracle on VMware

To limit Oracle licensing requirements on VMware, organizations can negotiate a network and storage isolation agreement with Oracle. This involves:

  • Architectural Diagram: Illustrating current and planned configurations, showing how Oracle clusters/servers are isolated.
  • Physical Host and Storage Isolation: Implementing isolation using technology outside virtualization control.
  • Audit Proof: Providing evidence that the environment can be measured during an audit, such as screenshots showing host and storage isolation.

How We Can Help

Are you running Oracle on VMware and want to reduce costs by designing a strategy or negotiating a network and storage isolation agreement? We can provide expert guidance and support throughout the process.

Detailed Guide: Oracle Licensing on VMware

Understanding Oracle Licensing Models

Oracle licenses software based on two primary models: Processor and Named User Plus. Both models have specific requirements and implications in virtualized environments.

  • Processor Licensing: Requires counting all physical processor cores and applying the Oracle core factor table.
  • Named User Plus Licensing: Requires a minimum of 10 users per processor license.

Compliance Challenges

  1. Upgrading Oracle Software: Upgrades may require additional licenses, such as WebLogic licenses, leading to compliance issues.
  2. Misunderstanding Licensing Rules: Oracle’s complex licensing rules can lead to unintentional non-compliance.
  3. Deploying on VMware: Using VMware’s vMotion can complicate licensing, as Oracle requires licensing all potential hosts where Oracle software can run.

Best Practices for Oracle Licensing on VMware

  1. Regular License Reviews: Conduct frequent reviews to ensure ongoing compliance.
  2. Stay Informed: Keep updated with Oracle’s licensing policies and VMware’s technological changes.
  3. Use Licensing Tools: Implement software asset management (SAM) tools to automate tracking and compliance checks.
  4. Plan for Growth: Ensure your licensing strategy accommodates future expansions and changes in your IT environment.


Oracle licensing on VMware requires careful planning and management to avoid significant costs and compliance issues. Organizations can successfully navigate Oracle licensing on VMware by understanding the licensing models and compliance challenges and employing effective strategies. For expert guidance and support, consider consulting with Oracle licensing specialists.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson is an Oracle licensing expert with over 20 years of experience in Oracle license management. He spent 10 years working for Oracle corporation and then 10 years at a consultant leading engagements on Oracle license assessments, audits, ULAs. He is a public speaker and author

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