Understanding Your Options for Deploying and Licensing Oracle on AWS

Understanding Your Options for Deploying and Licensing Oracle on AWS

By Bob Lindquist, Client Services Director at House of Brick Technologies

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Oracle customers have common questions about their licensing options when considering deployment to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

These questions usually fall into the following areas:

  • What AWS options are available for Oracle deployments?
  • What are the Oracle licensing considerations for AWS deployments?
  • Are there AWS features to help optimize Oracle licensing?
  • Will my Oracle to AWS deployment be audit defensible?

Oracle customers who do not proactively confirm their options risk spending too much on licensing. Customers may also face an Oracle audit that could expose avoidable license compliance issues.

AWS has a variety of options for customers considering deployment of Oracle to AWS. When done properly, customers can significantly optimize their Oracle license costs when deploying to the proper AWS service.

House of Brick Technologies is an AWS Partner Network (APN) Advanced Consulting Partner. We have helped many Oracle customers address Oracle-to-AWS deployment questions. This post outlines the real-world options and addresses common questions.

AWS Options for Oracle Deployments

AWS supports Oracle databases and offers enterprise customers a number of solutions for migrating and deploying their applications on the AWS Cloud. You can launch entire enterprise software stacks from Oracle on AWS, and build enterprise-grade Oracle applications using database and middleware software from Oracle.

In our experience at House of Brick, AWS has done a great job of putting the customer first and working backwards to find the right tools for the right job. As a result, AWS currently provides five services suitable for Oracle deployments:

  • Amazon RDS for Oracle
  • Oracle on Amazon EC2
  • Oracle on VMware Cloud on AWS
  • Oracle on Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts
  • Oracle on Amazon EC2 Bare Metal

Let’s take a quick look at each service and how it benefits customers.

Amazon RDS for Oracle

This is a database managed service that allows customers to run Oracle workloads that are hosted and supported by AWS. Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle is a good fit for Oracle customers who want to avoid the laborious day-to-day support, patching, and backup of their Oracle environments.

Oracle on Amazon EC2

This service provides compute instances sized to fit the needs of a customer’s Oracle workloads. While running Oracle on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) does not offer the advantages of a managed service like RDS, it does provide maximum flexibility in the setup and operation of Oracle workloads.

Oracle on VMware Cloud on AWS

This is a compute service that runs VMware’s virtualization technologies, including vSphere, vSAN, and NSX on AWS. VMware Cloud on AWS can be a good fit for Oracle customers with a large footprint who also want the benefits of a VMware platform and a managed service.

Notably, VMware Cloud on AWS is an easy and straightforward way to run Real Application Clusters (RAC) workloads, or older legacy versions of Oracle, on AWS as they are not supported by modern operating systems or services such as RDS.

Oracle on Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts

Customers running this service need to identify how many hosts they want to dedicate to running their Oracle workloads on AWS. This functions just like the Oracle on Amazon EC2 option above, in that the dedicated hosts run workloads in EC2 instances. However, it offers more advantageous licensing options for AWS customers with sufficient Oracle workloads to justify using Dedicated Hosts.

The Dedicated Hosts option works best for customers with a large number of Oracle workloads who want to experience the licensing advantages that come with using dedicated hardware and licensing by traditional processor metrics, rather than using Oracle’s cloud policy.

Oracle on Amazon EC2 Bare Metal

Bare metal is just that—bare metal servers provided to run Oracle (or other workloads) on the AWS Cloud. This option provides customers utilizing hosted physical servers with the scalability and support of a cloud provider like AWS. It’s generally only useful with Oracle customers who are operating at the largest scale and, like EC2 Dedicated Hosts, may offer licensing advantages.

Oracle Licensing Considerations for AWS Deployment Options

House of Brick has helped many clients with Oracle licensing on AWS. The key is to understand existing Oracle agreements in order to align deployment of the proper AWS service.

For example, customers using Amazon RDS can leverage three licensing options for deploying Oracle: Standard Edition – License Included; the Oracle Cloud Policy; or an Unlimited License Agreement (ULA).

Other AWS services may offer different options for Oracle deployments, depending on the current agreements and ordering documents the customer has in place with Oracle.

Oracle Standard Edition (SE), Standard Edition 1 (SE1), and Standard Edition 2 (SE2) can be deployed on AWS, usually based on which specific Oracle version is supported by a customer’s application vendor.

Many organizations are moving to SE2 deployments for AWS given Oracle’s go-forward support focus for this latest edition. Oracle Enterprise Edition (EE), which includes advanced features, can also be deployed on AWS.

As shown in the chart below, AWS provides a “License Included” option for Oracle SE (SE1 or SE2), but not for Oracle EE. Under the “License Included” service model, an organization does not need to separately purchase Oracle licenses, since the Oracle Database software has been licensed by AWS.

“License Included” pricing is inclusive of software, underlying hardware resources, and Amazon RDS management capabilities. Organizations can also bring their own license (BYOL) for Oracle SE or EE to other AWS services, depending on their specific contract and their particular AWS service needs.

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Oracle Standard Edition on Amazon RDS

A common option for customers looking for cost-effective Oracle solutions on AWS is to migrate from Oracle Enterprise Edition to Standard Edition on Amazon RDS for Oracle.

House of Brick has seen many Oracle customers who originally deployed EE, but never needed all of the enterprise features. Since EE costs nearly three times more than SE, these customers were paying too much.

With Amazon RDS for Oracle, the SE license can be provided with the instance, which means you can potentially save money by either canceling support on existing EE licenses, or by avoiding new EE purchases. If the Oracle usage in RDS is not consistent, but rather periodic, then you only pay for those times when the license is in use.

As noted previously, since the license is provided by AWS, the customer would no longer need a direct relationship with Oracle. House of Brick has seen customers migrate all of their Oracle workloads to the RDS License Included SE offering in order to end their direct relationship with Oracle, as well as Oracle’s right to audit them.

In short, customers have a variety of options for Oracle licensing on AWS, all of which can be implemented in an audit defensible manner.

Optimized CPU for Amazon EC2 Instances

House of Brick has consistently seen that customers running database workloads like Oracle require high memory and excellent storage performance characteristics, such as IOPS and storage bandwidth.

Despite the fact that processor is the most common metric for licensing Oracle software products, we rarely see Oracle database workloads that are constrained by available CPU resources. The Optimize CPU feature provides customers with the ability to disable vCPUs on Amazon EC2 or RDS instances in order to tune the exact CPU allotment—and thus the licensing footprint—to their specific workload needs.

With Optimize CPU, customers can specify a custom number of vCPUs (up to the normal maximum for that particular instance type) when launching new Amazon EC2 or RDS instances in order to save on vCPU-based licensing costs.

They can also disable Intel Hyper-Threading Technology for workloads that perform well with single-threaded CPUs. While the disabling of vCPU resources does not provide any cost savings for Amazon EC2 or RDS instances, it can offer dramatic cost savings by reducing the licensing footprint for those instances hosting Oracle workloads.

Audit Defensible Deployments of Oracle on AWS

Oracle has been providing enterprise-grade relational database technologies for years, and many leading software vendors provide applications that run on, and may even require the use of, Oracle as the database platform.

Using Oracle also comes with the obligation to participate in periodic software audits. AWS provides a few tools that can assist with deployment history and compliance control, such as AWS CloudTrail, AWS Config, and AWS License Manager.

In this context, House of Brick has identified some important considerations for deploying Oracle on AWS in an audit-defensible manner.

First, Oracle customers must fully understand the privileges, restrictions, and risks associated with their licensing agreements and Oracle’s non-contractual cloud licensing policy.

Second, cloud architecture must be intentionally designed and sized to utilize the appropriate AWS instances and resources, and the associated Oracle licenses. A customer who brings their own license (BYOL) will need to understand if those licenses should be applied to vCPUs or to physical processor cores.

Next, all usage and configurations should be documented and retained internally. While this documentation may not be shared with Oracle in an audit, but it’s still important to keep track of your compliance position.

Lastly, customers should conduct regular usage monitoring, and periodic internal assessments of their Oracle deployments. These assessments will help ensure ongoing audit defensibility, as well as identify opportunities to optimize license usage, including alternative solutions from AWS.

House of Brick and its parent company, OpsCompass, offer an Oracle license management tool that monitors usage of certain Oracle software in AWS and on premises, in addition to providing a variety of cloud compliance and governance monitoring features.

Next Steps for Deployment of Oracle on AWS

Customers should do their homework prior to deploying Oracle on AWS. We have seen customers get into sticky situations in Oracle audits because their cloud operations teams migrated their Oracle workloads directly to Amazon EC2 or RDS with no knowledge of the licensing implications, or how to deploy in a license-compliant manner.

Customers should also involve a trusted advisor to validate their architecture and migration plan for license compliance. Having a third party verify they are following technical and licensing best practices helps ensure an audit defensible deployment of Oracle on AWS.

Usually, customers choose from one of the following House of Brick service offerings, depending on their current situation:

  • Oracle on AWS Same Day Consult: This short consultation focuses on the most common concerns when running Oracle on AWS.
  • Oracle on AWS Licensing & Architecture Workshop: This collaborative, two-day workshop helps customers get started with a holistic Oracle on AWS strategy.
  • Oracle License Assessment: Determine your current-state compliance, and plan for Oracle licensing in the cloud.
  • Oracle on AWS Readiness Assessment: This engagement analyzes the level of readiness for deploying Oracle on AWS, and may include a proof-of-concept deployment based on customer requirements

Explore House of Brick’s AWS offerings for the option that best meets your needs.

The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

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House of Brick Technologies is an APN Advanced Consulting Partner. A leader in the virtualization of business-critical systems, House of Brick has helped many Oracle customers address Oracle-to-AWS deployment questions.

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