In this second part of our SAM Foundation series we look at Compliance Reporting and the importance of understanding your deployment position.
In part one of this series we covered the importance of a full data collection across your data sources and contract and licensing information, now we look at how to bring that together into a compliance position.
The first realisation is - wow! - that's a lot of data we have out there! So just as we needed tooling to perform the data gathering exercise we are going to need analytics to decipher not only what's important but how to interpret it all, for which there are two aspects:
Now what exactly do we mean by 'Scale Reporting'? Basically this means a reporting facility that enables you to stipulate variable parameters from product to vendor to company, with the output organised by device in a concise and easily readable form - for example ComplianceWare's powerful python & pandas based analytics engine that slices and organises the data into output as a familiar Excel workbook.
A snapshot of the output as below:
The analytics should also consider base licensing metrics such as server core and PVU minimums, apply relevant bundling rules to avoid double counting, and recognise non-chargeable installations such as clients and free-edition software.
So we now have our first view of what's deployed where - and that's a good start, but it doesn't mean the jobs done. You'll want to perform some spot / sanity checks across the report, and that's where the 'Direct Examination and Querying' comes in. Here, your tool should allow you to easily interrogate your data collection (which can span many millions of rows) for further review and confirmation, and that's accomplished via smart features that enable you to slice, limit and target the fields and items of interest. Again, with ComplianceWare as an example you can easily navigate through the data by vendor, product, data source, and perform smart searches with inclusion and exclusion parameters to dynamically find exactly what you are after.
ok ... we're happy with our deployment report - now what?
Now it gets interesting - does what's reported as deployed match what we're actually entitled to? While some products can be automatically tallied (eg. products with simple install or device metrics) others will require more effort such as resource based metrics like cores or logical licenses such as users, and those in more complex environments such as virtual environments where physical v virtual considerations must be taken into account.
Here there are no short-cuts - it will require a knowledgeable individual (preferably with prior experience in the environment) to work through each product in a methodical and calculated manner to (a) derive the optimal licensing construct and then (b) reconcile against the recorded (and evidenced) level of licensing. As this progresses it is imperative to capture your findings and ensure they are lodged as an artefact for audit readiness and as a baseline for future reporting cycles (again with ComplianceWare this can be stored as 'Verification' material alongside the updating of actual usage figures).
And just how often should the whole exercise be performed? We'd recommend that you cover your major vendors at least annually, and institute a program of work that targets a select number of products or vendors quarterly. The good news is that once you've completed one cycle others become easier as you'll have a baseline to compare or commence from.
So to summarise:
In this series we'll cover the foundations of SAM, and what they mean.
Data is the essence of SAM, much as it is with most of technology. It's all there, somewhere, amassed over time, stashed away in the recesses of the organisation. It may exist (hopefully) in electronic form, or (lamentably) physical records filed and stored, most typically both. So we know the data's out there, the question is how - and where - do we start?
The first step is to determine what data sources you can tap into, from the raw systems themselves through other collection platforms you might run such as CrowdStrike, Microsofts SCCM, IBM's ILMT, HCL's Bigix Inventory etc. With larger organisations the issue is always completeness - be it running agents or agentless via remote extracts - how do we know we're capturing everything we should ... and that can be a much more difficult proposition than it seems.
The approach is to source as much data as possible and compare it, merge it, blend it, and massage it to get the best quality information you can - the issue today is not so much sourcing the data, its how to filter through it to find what's important, and to do that you'll need tooling.
That means firstly figuring out what is most workable - and also most repeatable. This could be as simple as providing system logins to run application specific extracts, or remote connectivity as a centralised administrator, or even integrated access via API's. All act as feeds to your SAM system that will then do the hard data crunching and reporting work for you (for which ComplianceWare's pandas driven analytics engine is purposely designed).
So that covers the inventory side of things - collecting the deployment information and associated identifiers (ie. the editions, statistics, capacities etc) necessary to derive your consumption levels, but then you'll need the associated Contracts and Licensing material as well to compare to your entitlements and establish your compliance position, and that's where things can get tricky.
Most organisations - even those that are largely centralised - have some degree of local procurement (all the way down to problematic credit-card purchases) that make it difficult to collate the full and complete record of ownership. So you'll need to start with what is known, match that to the inventory you have identified exposing the shortfalls and gaps, and go looking for those great unknowns.
This can be a long and even fruitless exercise at times, sometimes reliant purely on the knowledge of individuals (if they're still with the organisation that is), extending from business to technology teams, from legal to procurement, all depending on how controlled and robust the procurement processes are. The key here is to capture that information so its recorded and available from there on, and the whole exercise doesn't have to be repeated (as it would in the case of audits).
Ideally your SAM system then allows you to maintain that connection of inventory to entitlements, organised by the contracts they were acquired (and operate) under. Any compliance issues can then be dealt with in a managed and controlled way, along with the potential benefit of savings from license consolidation, decommissioning, harvesting, or reuse, but we'll cover that in Series (#2).
And the kick - data collection isn't a one-off, its an ongoing process that should be repeated as often as necessary based on the frequency and fluidity of change in your environment. On the plus side, once you have established the process it becomes much easier and efficient to rerun, and depending on your SAM system gain more intelligence each time (for example, ComplianceWare can compare different data captures and report the differences so that you can quickly identify what's changed, and what might need attention).
Key takeaways then are:
Keep in touch for the upcoming SAM Foundation Series (#2) - Compliance Reporting.
Data Recovery Environments using Copying, Synchronizing or Mirroring Standby and Remote Mirroring are commonly used terms to describe these methods of deploying Data Recovery environments. In these Data Recovery deployments, the data, and optionally the Oracle binaries, are copied to another storage device. In these Data Recovery deployments all Oracle programs that are installed and/or running must be licensed per standard policies documented in the Oracle Licensing and Services Agreement (OLSA). This includes installing Oracle programs on the DR server(s) to test the DR scenario. Licensing metrics and program options on Production and Data Recovery/Secondary servers must match.
Servers – Disaster Recovery Rights: For each Instance of eligible server software Customer runs in a Physical OSE or Virtual OSE on a Licensed Server, it may temporarily run a backup Instance in a Physical OSE or Virtual OSE on either, another one of its Servers dedicated to disaster recovery, or, for Instances of eligible software other than Windows Server, on Microsoft Azure Services, provided the backup Instance is managed by Azure Site Recovery to Azure. The License Terms for the software and limitations apply to Customer’s use of the backup Instance.
If its not specifically called out in the VMware Product Guide it will need licensing, and that means everything other than Continuent and vRelaise for Log Insight. Surprisingly, VMware deem an install to be 'use' of the software - yep - just binaries sitting on a disk.
RHEL Linux Subscription Guide: Cold backups: The server has software installed and configured, but it is turned off until the disaster occurs or for periodic disaster recovery procedure tests. For Red Hat Enterprise Linux, this means that the customer is allowed to preload the bits as a courtesy. However, Red Hat Content Delivery Network cannot be used to update the system until the disaster happens. Then, the paid subscription on the failed machine transfers to the cold backup sever. In this case, a customer does not need two subscriptions. The customer will consume only one subscription at any point in time. Red Hat will allow the customer to pre-provision the software bits onto the cold backup machine as a courtesy. If a customer is found to be running more units of Red Hat Enterprise Linux than the customer has subscribed for because the customer has found a use for these pre-provisioned servers other than this cold backup use case, the customer is obligated to pay Red Hat.
Backup Use Defined: For programs running or resident on backup machines, IBM defines 3 types of situations: “cold”; “warm”; and “hot”. In the “cold” and “warm” situations, a separate license for the backup copy is normally not required, no additional charge applies, and IBM does not need to be notified. In a “hot” backup situation, the customer needs to acquire another license. All programs running in backup mode must be under the customer’s control, even if running at another enterprise’s location.
All might not be as it seems - check this list of ILMT gotcha's
Here are out top five tips for trimming your PVU sub-capacity report counts:
1. Incomplete Vitualisation - the 'TVM' predicament
If your ILMT configuration is not fully or properly implemented you're likely to find incomplete virtualisation heirarchies in your VM Manager connections, which result in every affected VM being treated as a stand-alone physical machine at the highest PVU rating of 120 PVUs per core). This can quickly add up where you might otherwise be entitled to the likes of 70 PVUs per core.
2. Missing Software Classifications
Central to the accuracy of ILMT reporting is the much dreaded 'Software Classification' process. If you choose to ignore this painstaking requirement you can be sure you'll pay the price either in real terms or in time-draining dispute at your next audit. Essentially, every exempt PVU count in your environment needs to be catagorised as such, meaning instances that are to be excluded from PVU counts (which depending on the License Terms are likely Developer, DR, or Test installs) need to be individually identified as such via this (ongoing) activity.
3. Unrecognised Bundling
As a follow-on to the Software Classification issue above, you'll then likely notice that where you have installed Supporting Programs on a different server - where entitled to do so under the License Terms - the program will magically form part of the PVU count, ie. bundling is not recognised across servers. So once again you'll need to identify these instances and exclude them from the relevant count, making sure you add comments to qualify the classification.
4. Reallocation High-Water Marks
So you dutifully maintain your vCPU's to your level of entitlement, which, as you're permitted to do, includes the occasional reallocation across servers to match processing and performance needs. Given you've balanced the core counts out all is good - right? Well ... no, ILMT will track the high-water mark for each server in the 90-day reporting period, so for example a taking a core from a 4 vCPU server to assign to a 3 vCPU server will see both reporting as 4 vCPU servers for that period.
To be in a position to challenge this make sure you have or take - and keep - separate records that evidence the reassignment of cores to negate any double counting.
5. Ghost Decommissioning
Similar to the above, you might think that decommissioning one server to deploy another would be quite within your rights as long as you (as always) don't exceed your level of entitlements. Well ... no, the decommissioned server will also report within the same 90-day period as the new server - potentially a bigger problem than the issue with high-water marks. So again you'll need to either classify the server accordingly, or ensure you have the right artefacts to contest any double recognition, or both.
... a lot of overhead right?
And that's where a secondary source of truth can prove essential ...
The world is certainly a different place than it was just weeks ago. From what was a normal days work to stay-at-home advisories, self-isolation and lock-downs, business and workers face enormous challenges.
In such adverse times it's not possible to predict what the landscape will look like in the months ahead, but with the unfortunate loss of jobs and closure of businesses all we can know is that it will be a dramatically different place.
Those that can and do keep operating are an imperative for the economy, both now and through recovery, and whilst it would be reprehensible of vendors to audit companies when the corner is turned, there are those that inevitably will still do so.
So while there is much to contemplate and deal with in just keeping your business running, a quick check on some basic principles could avert some later issues. Consider some of the most common licensing pitfalls with typical BCP scenario's:
Working From Home
Working from Home means mobility - if you are allocating laptops and notebooks be wary of installation or device based licenses, all of which might be overlooked with the rapid deployment of SOE's and new devices. There may even be restrictions on what category of device the software can be installed on, or even where physically it can be used (eg. designated offices or specific geographic locations). Where applicable, check you mobility rights cater for your intended use, and are current (eg. Microsoft SA Benefits).
Remote access can be another minefield where in the rush to get staff connected controls that would normally be in place might get overlooked. While solutions like an F5 BIG-IP Edge Gateway provide user based licensing to their own resources via secure VPN, other storefront and virtualisation products such as Citrix Gateway with VDI if not properly administered can be at greater risk of exposing applications unintentionally - make sure your access controls eg. AD Groups etc) are aligned to your licensing, and any additions to those secure groups have corresponding entitlements.
If you are in the position of having to invoke your DR (or partial DR) things will undoubtedly be more complicated. License transfer rights, powering servers up, or moving capacity from cold to hot can easily lead to over use. Migrating (or worse, extending) production workload to DR will certainly have conditions and constraints that if over-looked will leave you visibly non-compliant at a later date via audit trails such as SCRT or license server logs. Keep appropriate records that will help to mitigate any action you needed to take, and make sure you enable/track license migration alongside any workload you move.
While we'd like to think some leniency would be afforded through these difficult times, keeping a good handle on your compliance position just makes good business sense.
So stay compliant, but mostly, stay well, and stay safe.
Announcing ComplianceWare 3.0 with the addition of Hardware Discovery and Inventory
As a logical extension to the extensive Software and Licensing functionality of ComplianceWare we've now added the capability to track Hardware as well. Using the familiar script extract and load process across hardware devices you can now inventory your IT assets by site, view associated attributes, and generate reports based on specific templates.
For companies with sub-entities there is also the ability to create a hierarchy of related sites to provide a holistic view across all assets - a valuable insight into what refreshes might be necessary and coordinated across all sites enabling:
Future planned enhancements include the ability to interrogate failure rates to assist in determining which products and models are performing better than others, enabling procurement of least costly and more reliable IT assets.
Lets Straighten out On-Premise Rights Included with M365
A quick internet search is likely to find conflicting views on what on-premise rights you are granted with your M365 Subscription particularly in relation to server software. Many sites will state that you gain only user access rights with your USL licenses, ie. essentially a CAL license entitlement, and that you are still required to acquire the server licenses for the likes of Exchange and Sharepoint.
Simply, that's not correct.
Firstly though, be sure of the M365 Subscription you are dealing with as each will offer different content and scope. The CAL/ML equivalency table of the Product Terms provides a good overview to this:
Note for example that the common business E3 and E5 plans provide both Base and Additive access rights for Exchange and SharePoint Server. But what about the Server Licenses?
A quick browse through the FAQ of the M365 Site provides the first hint that certain Server software is indeed included:
While the respective sections covering the likes of Exchange or SharePoint Server software don't provide any clues, the Microsoft 365 section clearly articulates the entitlement (page 57 of the October 2019 document):
Assuming all of your users are properly licensed (and they should be) your on-premise Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business Server installations are covered!
... and that includes back-versions of course under the Universal License Terms part 3 - "Rights to Use Other Versions and Lower Editions".
So no need to True-Up those on-premise Server licenses for Exchange or SharePoint, and who isn't keen for less overhead and more funds right?!
IBM Announces its new "Authorised SAM Provider" Offering (IASP)
While it appears the disgruntled messaging from clients is finally starting to register with some major vendors, a recent announcement from IBM (outlined here by the ITAM Review) by no means makes it an all clear.
We're all for any move to make software licensing compliance simpler, and the IASP program for some large IBM customers might just do that - although by invitation only and accomplished by engaging one of just four designated IBM partners:
OKAY, SO WHAT's THE OBJECTIVE?
In a nutshell, to offer those select few an alternative to IBM's License Reviews by operating a managed service that brings SAM expertise, tools, and knowledge to organisations who are perhaps struggling with those skills themselves - which happens to be exactly what we at Software Compliance have been offering our valued clients since 2016!
HOW ABOUT the APPROACH?
Once invited, an organisation selects an authorised partner who will then - through a defined scope of paid work - follow the standard licensing compliance process to create a baseline (using ILMT), perform an initial reconciliation, resolve any issues, and implement an ongoing management and control program, all done under an IASP Agreement that must be executed with IBM (covering a term of up to 3 years).
... And THE Benefits?
The major attraction is that any licensing shortfalls discovered in the initial baseline can be resolved at the customers entitled price without any back-dating of S&S - and - an apparent waiver of any sub-capacity issues (tbc).
... and we all know how problematic (ie. costly) issues in this space can be!
On the surface perhaps an admirable new direction from IBM, but does it really differ to how customers operating under the likes of an Enterprise Services & Software Offering (ESSO) have been treated for the last 10+ years? We think not - baselines were created, shortfalls resolved (albeit perhaps not as transparently), regular reporting was mandatory, etc ... so the only difference seems to be that the customer is required to engage one of just four designated partners.
Contact Us ... (before your Vendors do)
Could the Change to IBM's PVU Core Table Signal a Refreshing SHIFT in Sub-Capacity Licensing?
While some vendors prefer to wallow in the mire of antiquated and irrelevant licensing regimes others seem to be moving ahead with revised models that provide clarity and ease in establishing your licensing and compliance position.
A case in point - IBM - who flagged a rethink with a shift from the messy PVU to Virtual Processor Core metrics (example in the hyperlink).
Starting April this year the x86 PVU Table has been culled down to just 6 entries with the Intel category now much simplified for the Xeon chipset, basically all determined by the number of sockets at 2, 4, and >4 (with the lower models in the listed ranges remaining at 50 PVU's):
There is however one complication - Symmetric Multiprocessing Servers - which you need to factor per definition below:
The PVU requirement for the Intel processor technology indicated is dependent on the maximum number of sockets on the server. If sockets on two or more servers are connected to form a Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) Server, the maximum number of sockets per server increases. Example:
Good news from our perspective - anything that removes ambiguity is welcomed (with reference to the linked post at the start of this blog: "oh but you have to count the Physical cores, not virtual, on the Host, in fact all Hosts in the complex, actually in the Data Center, well let's say the Cloud then, so basically ...
... everything, everywhere")
All might not be what You think - It's time to Check
So all's fine with your Oracle Database - it's been installed for some time now, had a few upgrades, tweaks and tune-ups, you're across your NUP and Processor entitlements, so why have any concerns from a licensing perspective? Well, what about all of those Feature, Option, and Management Packs that lurk quietly in the background - have you checked on the status of those lately?
Worth checking to be certain before that next, friendly ... 'Oracle License Review'.
To facilitate this Oracle provides a script - options_packs_usage_statistics.sql - which enables you to check Oracle Database feature usage, option usage, and management pack usage. The script lists, in two distinct sections:
The script can be run manually on an individual database or you can use Oracle Enterprise Manager Job System to automatically run the script on multiple databases, giving output like the below (with formatting added):
Now with insight into the actual system settings a simple reconciliation to your licensing / entitlements will give you assurance that everything is in order, or alternatively highlight what needs to be resolved.
A simple task well worth scheduling at least annually.
and it's always good to keep a record for later comparison / compliance requirements (with ComplianceWare you can easily register the output as 'Verification' material alongside your licenses).
Could You Be At Risk From Covert LICENSING TERMS?
While some vendors are well known for their hostile terms towards specific forms of virtualisation (consider Oracle with VMware), others are not, slyly waiting for sufficient time to pass before issuing that dreaded ‘license review’ (aka audit) letter, hoping they can trap you with their archaic, antiquated, yet bizarrely enforceable terms that could see you severely punished if you have virtualised systems that fall under these conditions.
Two current protagonists are coming to the fore in this space for their equally aggressive – and global – onslaught, hounding their loyal customers with totally unreasonable findings and outrageous demands for compensation. The problem emerged from the days of licensing physical installations by cores – easily managed when applications ran in their own dedicated servers, but with the shift to now omnipresent server farms, be it on-premise or cloud based, where their terms have not changed and don’t automatically recognise virtualisation as a means to limit the licensable metric (cores) you are at risk of paying for all of the physical cores in your entire Host estate.
Consider the terms below extracted from the respective vendor agreements:
Micro Focus End User License AgreemenT
"Server License for CPUs. Licensed Software provided under this License Option gives Licensee the right to install the Licensed Software on a single machine or server ("Host Server"), or one or more Containers on the Host Server, and have the Licensed Software executed by up to the total number of CPUs, Cores, Integrated Facility for Linux processors ("IFLs"), Blades or other processing devices specified for the license in the applicable Product Order ("License Specification"). If the number of Cores is not specified for a CPU in the event a CPU is specified in the License Specification, such CPU shall be considered to be single-Core. A Server License for CPUs license covering all CPUs, Cores, IFLs, Blades and other processing devices that are contained in and/or can be accessed by the Host Server ("Total Processors") is required with all applicable license fees paid, even if one or more of such CPUs, Cores, IFLs, Blades or other processing devices are not accessing or running the Licensed Software. For example, if 32 Cores are the Total Processors on the Host Server, but only 16 Cores are utilized to execute the Licensed Software, a 32-Core Server License for CPUs license is required notwithstanding the fact that 16 of the 32 Cores may not actually be accessing the Licensed Software. Each Core on a multi-core CPU requires a Server License for CPUs license covering each such Core. For example a Host Server with Total Processors consisting of a single quad-core CPU will require a 4-Core Server License for CPUs license and payment of the license fees applicable to all 4 Cores."
OPEN TEXT – ECD Central Processing Unit (“CPU”) ModeL
Affected products are any of those on your Order From that have a UOM code of ‘ZA’:
"Licensing and pricing is based upon the total number of CPU cores present in the computer upon which the ECD Software will operate. The ECD Software is licensed per physical dual-core device (“Dual-Core CPU”). Licensee must purchase an individual Software License for each Dual-Core CPU on which the ECD Software is executed or made available to execute."
If you are in the unfortunate position of running any products that fall into the categories above, act fast. You will need to either move the affected applications to a right-sized physical box (with all of the accompanying issues that presents) or seek to agree with the vendor the appropriate virtualisation terms (and be wary – if they play this type of game that will likely just get their cash registers ringing).
We find it hard to believe that such terms remain in vendor agreements, more so even deemed enforceable. If you've had the misfortune to have gone through such an affront, or think you might be about to, get in touch - we'd like to hear of (or help with) your experience.
IT SEEMS AUDIT SEASON HAS STARTED EARLY ...
Revenue outlook must be a concern for a number of large, global corporates going by the number of audits we're aware of already this year - typically they seem to favour the mid to late part of the calendar.
And lets face it, an audit is the last thing you need when you're just getting back to those major initiatives that need focus. Of course often its that very focus that leads to compliance issues - lacking the necessary oversight and controls in your IT landscape its not uncommon for BAU changes to cause a world of difficulty - a simple server refresh that introduces more cores, a change in access permissions that broadens the user base, or perhaps just plain old virtualisation.
So what might target your organisation for attention by those loathed 'License Review Teams' waiting out there?
Well the answer is, more than you might think.
Typically something has got you to the top of the list. It can of course be within a common cycle such as at a contract renewal period, or an untimely prompt by one of those independent organisations whose entire income is through specialised and aggressive audits, but if not, what might cause it - and how might you prevent it?
First, consider the common triggers:
If any of the above have you a little worried look for the most telling signal from your vendors of an impending audit - the unexpected communication that your "account team is going through some changes", which is simply a calculated, preemptive move to extricate any history and/or advocacy you might otherwise have had - prepare and get ready!
all of those "but" arguments will get you nowhere - "but we had an agreement",
"the account have known it was like this for years",
"it was the licensing sold to us", etc etc.
Alternatively, if you're feeling comfortable that you're not under any imminent threat its still a good idea to take stock and review your position against the common triggers. The best defense is without doubt a robust and competent software licensing function within your organisation that maintains the necessary level of control (and has the added benefit of warding off those vendors who would rather take on an easier, less capable target).
When it comes to licensing and compliance its good practice to not treat your vendors like 'trusted partners' - keep in mind who they're actually working for, and who's paying their salaries.
So - what to do:
Concerns? if you need any help, we're just a phone call away.
With a New Year ahead it's a good time to reflect on your IT Licensing status and Compliance Position - Are you confident that it's all under control?
Or does effective management of IT licensing just seem too vast and perhaps cost prohibitive to implement and maintain? It can seem that way - there are numerous and ever changing products, platforms, and models to complicate the situation, so how do you keep up?
And what about the cost? - yes, Software Asset Management and Licensing Compliance to many executives can seem like an unnecessary spend, much like the early days of Disaster Recovery where the prevailing thinking was typically "why would we spend so much on hardware that's just going to sit idle?". Well compare that to the contemporary thinking today where Service Recovery is a given with any robust application - the spend is seen as a worthy investment, not just additional cost.
At Software Compliance we recognised these factors as the perplexing problems the majority of organisations with broad IT solutions faced, and we decided to develop a solution that would work - and scale - to a vast array of companies, particularly SME's.
So how did we do it?
First and foremost we developed a tool to enable organisations to capture, contain and maintain that vast amount of software information important to them - their contracts, deployments, and licensing - the tool - ComplianceWare.
Not only does ComplianceWare discover and track your software deployments, but it removes layers of licensing complexity by automatically tallying installations, performing product bundling where appropriate, and providing direct links to vendor licensing information to help you decipher whats relevant - all kept current for you by the team here at SWC.
So if that solves the complexity issue, what about the next inhibitor - cost?
Again, that was something we were very aware of. While there were existing solutions in the market they are typically high-end, bloated products aimed at large enterprises at a cost to match. We took a different approach - build a lean, cloud delivered, simplified application that organisations could subscribe to based on their requirements, and be there to provide ongoing support and expertise as those ever-changing products and platforms emerge and evolve. All at a such a compelling cost you'll wonder why you paid such exorbitant remediation fees in the first place (or perhaps might be about to!).
So as holidays come to an end and we embark on another year it's a good time to reflect and ask yourself, in 2019 will we be:
It's not nearly as hard or as costlier a problem as you might believe it to be - find out more - get in touch and let's see how we might be able to help you gain more success in 2019.
effective January 2019 ORACLE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT Java SE 8 public updates will no longer be available for "Business, Commercial or Production use" without a commercial license.
What does this mean to your organisation?
... For Commercial Users (being those "entities other than Oracle Customers that use Java SE for free for business, commercial or production purposes as part of a Java application delivered by a third party or developed internally" Oracle will not post further updates of Java SE 8 to its public download sites after January 2019. If you need continued access to critical bug fixes and security fixes as well as general maintenance for Java SE 8 or previous versions you'll need a long term support subscription through Oracle Java SE Advanced Desktop, or Oracle Java SE Suite.
Of course if Java is licensed for use under another Oracle or other third-party license you are exempt. You'd be entitled to ask - what exactly is Oracle's justification for this new charge, well simply put their contention is captured in this statement:
"As the main contributor and steward of Java SE, Oracle is the only company that can guarantee long-term support and updates on a timely and predictable schedule. The Java SE Subscription from Oracle provides access to tools that consistently manage updates, enables enterprises to monitor their own Java platforms, and provides direct access to a specialized Java SE support team"
Where to next? ... What do I need to do??
Assuming you have broad use of Java SE like most organisations - noting the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) and Oracle Java SE Advanced and Suite products are currently shipping from Oracle in the form of the Java Development Kit (JDK), and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) - you'll need to inventory your entire software landscape to identify what installations you have, under what license. For those that aren't captured by an over-arching entitlement you will need to assess the level of support and currency you are willing to operate.
Put simply, that all means:
And what's that all going to cost? ... Well the latest Oracle Technology Global Price List (June 19, 2018) states the following under Fusion Middleware:
... however the literature surrounding the Subscriptions appears to indicate a more reasonable cost profile:
So with January 2019 looming the priority needs to be getting full clarity of your position:
... and then quantify what that might cost.
It would be fair to predict that Oracle will no doubt scrutinise this space at some point in the near future ... best to be prepared.
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