Avoiding unnecessary spend on Oracle Database Options and Packs

The risks and costs of using Oracle Options and Packs without having licenses to cover them has long been an area of concern for software asset management (SAM) professionals. The attention a recent post by Vincent Brasseur, An Oracle Database Patch that could cost your dearly simply reminded every one of this treacherous area of Oracle licensing. Oracle database Options are installed by default if you follow a standard installation and there are no license controls to prevent your from installing the products. While this offers convenience and consistency from a technical view-point it creates significant risks from a software asset management and commercial viewpoint. Oracle have always held the position that you only have to license Options and Packs that report as “in-use”. The problem is when an Option or Pack is used without the knowledge of the business or SAM team. The compliance gap usually only surfaces when it’s too late wither in an audit or when the business have come to rely on that particular product to run the business and it cannot be removed. So what can organizations do to avoid unnecessary spend on Oracle Database Options and Packs?

Awareness Campaign

Awareness campaign, an obvious one but worth repeating. Make all technical and project teams aware that products from any vendor but in particular Oracle might be easily available to download and install but that does not mean they come without cost. This is especially true for enterprise software where the costs can be very significant.


Systems Administrator and DBA’s are usually very enthusiastic about technical training but shy away from topics like SAM. It is worth refreshing their licensing knowledge around Oracle licensing and any other major vendors they are likely to encounter in their daily work. A few hours updating their SAM knowledge can pay itself back many times over.

Standard Builds

Where possible have either standard (company default) or model builds (approved in advance) for servers and databases. There will always be non-standard builds but at least you reduce the problem of Oracle’s default installs which come loaded with unnecessary Options and Packs.

Pre and Post Build Check

Have a set of official pre and post build checks. Most administrators have their own checklist but having an agreed standard for your organization greatly reduces the likelihood of an unauthorized product being installed. If it is coupled with a cross check, different person check to building, this is very effective license management process.

Remove unused Options and Packs

Remove the risk. Whenever an option or pack is found installed but not “in-use” raise a Change Request to remove it. The risks are simply too high to leave it available for accidental use. A change may take a few weeks or even months to go through the process but should be a high priority and an investigation of how it got through the other checks should also be done.

Routine Database Scans

Even with all the checks in the world products, especially Oracle Options and Packs , will get deployed onto servers without the knowledge of the SAM team. There is no escape from routinely, every 3-6 months, doing an inventory of your databases and reconciling the results with your entitlement to avoid any surprises with Oracle Options and Packs.


Like supermarkets, car manufacturers and any other organization trying to sell Oracle want to tempted you to try their product in the hopes you’ll buy. Installing Options and Packs by default is just one such tactic. By using some of the tactics described you can protect your self and avoid unnecessary spend on Oracle Options and Packs and in the process better manage your IT investments as a whole.   If you would like help determining what Oracle Options and Packs are installed and in-use in your network please contact us, we can help.


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Piaras MacDonnell