Oracle Licensing in VMware

Many VMware customers are successfully running Oracle on VMware vSphere while receiving the required level of support from Oracle. Oracle cannot be licensed by virtual CPUs today, but as long as Oracle software runs on fully licensed hosts, customers are not in violation of published Oracle policies. In particular, DRS Host Affinity rules can be used to run Oracle on a subset of the hosts within a cluster.  In many cases, customers can use vSphere to achieve substantial licensing savings.

Oracle Licensing in VMware Environments

Many Oracle products, including the database, are licensed by physical processor. This licensing model works well in a physical world, in which customers typically run one application per host and physical processors are easy to track. But this model is not well-adapted to a virtual world. VMware vSphere enables you to consolidate multiple workloads in the form of virtual machines on a single host. Additionally, VMware enables you to move these virtual machines across hosts with VMware vMotion, VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and High Availability (HA). When running products that are licensed by physical processor on vSphere, customers should ensure the following:

• Virtual machines are running on hosts fully licensed for Oracle.
• Virtual machine movement within a cluster is restricted to hosts that are fully licensed for Oracle.
• Virtual machine movements are tracked so that customers are able to demonstrate compliance with Oracle
licensing policies.

Hosts: License All CPUs in a Host for Oracle

Many Oracle products are licensed by physical core or socket, and for these products Oracle does not have a virtual CPU-based licensing mechanism. In a vSphere environment, the consequence of Oracle’s licensing policy is that customers must license all physical cores or sockets in the vSphere host (fully licensed host). However, once the host is fully licensed, customers are allowed to run an unlimited number of virtual machines and application instances on that host without additional licenses.

Clusters: Fully Licensed Versus Partially Licensed Clusters
In a vSphere environment, multiple hosts are typically clustered together, enabling virtual machines to move freely between the hosts by means of vMotion, Dynamic Resource Scheduling, VMware HA, and VMware Fault Tolerance. In a vSphere cluster, there are two distinct Oracle licensing scenarios to consider. In the first scenario, all the hosts in the cluster are fully licensed to run the Oracle product (fully licensed clusters). In the second scenario,
only a subset of the hosts in the cluster are licensed for Oracle (partially licensed clusters).

Scenario A: Fully Licensed Clusters
When a customer has enough Oracle application instances to justify creating a dedicated cluster for those applications, all the hosts in the cluster can be fully licensed for the application. This approach has multiple advantages:

• Customers can deploy an unlimited number of virtual machines running the Oracle application on the cluster. In essence, the cluster becomes an “all you can eat” cluster from an Oracle licensing standpoint. Typically, this enables a significant reduction in licensing requirements by consolidating physical processors and licenses by a factor of 4x or more.
• Customers can take advantage of VMware software’s many advanced features, such as Dynamic Resource
Scheduler and vSphere HA, to get the highest possible infrastructure utilization and further reduce licensing costs.

Scenario B: Partially Licensed Clusters
When a customer does not have enough Oracle application instances to justify creating a dedicated cluster for those applications, only a subset of the hosts in the cluster are licensed for the Oracle application. In this situation, the customer must be careful to restrict the movement of Oracle application instances and virtual machines to only those hosts that are licensed to run the product.

See more at: http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/vmw-understanding-oracle-certification-supportlicensing-environments.pdf