Any Virtualisation is an Oracle audit risk

If you have Oracle products deployed on any virtualisation platform, not just VMware,  you have a potential license compliance risk.

While preparing the Oracle Server Worksheet for a large insurance company we had the task of analysing a number of virtualisation technologies on which we found Oracle database and middleware deployed.

The client had a number of large IBM cluster servers partitioned (divided into virtual machines). A few of the LPARs (virtual machines) were running Oracle products.  Nothing unusual with this and the client was aware of the deployment.

The problem arose when we reviewed the actual configuration of the LPARs. They were not configured in line with Oracle hard partitioning rules.

The result was a shock for our client.  Instead of a subset of the total cores to be licensed all of the cores required licenses.  The potential bill was into the millions.

The Oracle Compliance risk

There is an assumption in IT that if a platform is included in the Oracle Partitioning Policy that you can divide up a server into virtual machines and that you only pay for the cores assigned to the VM.  This is true but only if the configuration complies with the Oracle technical guidelines.

The most common mistake we encounter is that the platform has gone into production with a default configuration.  For example Oracle Virtual Machine (OVM) in it’s default configuration makes all resources available to all virtual machines.  This configuration requires that all cores must be licensed which is rarely the desired result.

Managing the Oracle Risk

The simple advice to managing this risk is don’t assume the virtual cluster has been configured correctly, verify it.  Steps to verifying the configuration include:

  • Account for all Management Consoles (vCentre, HMC, etc.).
  • Review configuration for all Virtual Machines.
  • Compare to Oracle Technical Guidelines.
  • Correct Oracle Server Worksheet as required.
  • Retain record of configuration in case of audit.
  • Confirm the team responsible for managing your virtualised infrastructure are aware of Oracle policy.


There is not doubt that huge savings can be achieved by optimising the deployment of Oracle on a hard partitioned environment. It is critical that the partitions comply with Oracles guidelines or what was a potential saving can become a significant cost if an auditor finds the partitions does not meet the standards.

How we help

It is not always easy to be confident that your infrastructure complies to Oracle’s licensing standards and the costs of even a minor error can be significant.   As part of an Oracle License Health Check we verify all aspects of your license position including the deployment on virtualised infrastructure.


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Piaras MacDonnell