The boss of EMC-owned VCE has slammed Oracle for what he claims is its "absolutely ridiculous" approach to virtualisation licensing which he says is holding customers hostage. Some industry faces have welcomed his comments, with certain people arguing that he hasn't gone far enough.
Chad Sakac, long-term EMC bigwig and recently appointed VCE president, took to his personal blog – which he stresses does not necessarily reflect EMC's view – to berate Oracle over its licensing approach when it comes to virtualisation. He claims the vendor requires customers to license more than is required, likening it to a car park operator making a driver pay for all available parking spaces, even though they choose only one.
Oracle was not available to comment on his claims.
"For years, we've seen Oracle make claims in the field, not backed up by their documentation, that every socket in a server in a VMware cluster needs to be licensed," said Sakac. "This has escalated into 'every host in a VxBlock/VxRack/VxRail needs to be licensed'. We've even seen [Oracle say] every host attached to a SAN needs to be licensed and – this is the sheer insanity of it all – even any host you might use in a disaster recovery situation needs to be licensed. This is nuts."
Sakac stressed that he recognises the value in Oracle's intellectual property, and respects that it needs to charge a premium for what he admits is a "great product".
"I'm not debating the pricing model, or the price per socket of Oracle. They build a premium product, and a great product. The dollar value of their database and the tightly coupled application ecosystem they create – that's for customers to evaluate and choose," he added.
"If you've got this enormous bit of hardware in the datacentre and you've virtualised it – the sensible thing to do – Oracle are punishing you for doing it."
"What I am debating is their absolutely ridiculous and transparently self-serving and non-competitive position on virtualisation. Customers – are you sick and tired of being held hostage? Stop. Fight back. We are here to help you."
Martin Thompson, founder of the Campaign for Clear Licensing, welcomed Sakac's comments and explained what some customers believe to be the problem with Oracle's model.
"If you've got a big bit of tin, like a big server, you can use virtualisation to split it up," he said. "You split the power into different virtual machines and you've got more versatility. What Oracle says is if you put an Oracle database in one of those virtual machines, they won't license it for those specific virtual machines, you have to license the entire underlying hardware, even though you've split it up. They don't recognise partitioning, which is what they call it, where you partition up all the virtual machines across a big bit of tin. If you've got this enormous bit of hardware in the datacentre and you've virtualised it – the sensible thing to do – Oracle are punishing you for doing it."
Oracle has come under fire in the past for its licensing models and many in the industry consider the firm to be strict in its auditing process.
Thompson said Oracle's stance on virtualisation is not new, and urged VCE and others to do more to lobby the vendor to change.
"There is loads of bellyaching about it," he said. "What's new is that someone from [VCE] is speaking up about it. The only thing is that a blog is of no interest; we need action. He's the president and they need to take action – legal action or an agreement with Oracle to address it. It's restricting people from innovating. If you're an IT shop, you can't virtualise anything because of this greyness about the Oracle licensing. It stops people virtualising all the things they could. I'm surprised they've taken this long to come out and talk about it. Oracle is being anti-competitive so why don't [EMC] do something about it?"
TmaxSoft is a direct competitor to Oracle, and its managing director Carl Davies told CRN that any noise about the complexity of Oracle, such as Sakac's blog, is good news for his firm. He said that channel partners and software asset management (SAM) specialists are also in a prime position to help customers.
"There is an opportunity for SAM firms, for sure," he said. "It's complex stuff, and it's not just Oracle either. Large enterprises will have Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Adobe and all sorts. A lot of them will fly their flag and say 'come to us because we understand Oracle licensing and these are the pitfalls to avoid'."
Bill McGloin, chief technologist at Computacenter, told CRN that he understand's Sakac's frustrations and "sympathises to a degree".
"Oracle has a world-class enterprise product with a large and loyal user base, however their licensing model can be both complex and confusing at times for both partners and customers," he said. "At Computacenter we have dedicated teams ensuring customers are fully licence compliant while also ensuring they are maximising their investments in both infrastructure and software."
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