Oracle ULA – the clue is NOT in the name

I was reading with interest the recent settlement by Oregon State Legislator with Oracle for $100 million.   As a software license  professional the detail that caught my eye was the Unlimited License Agreement (Oracle ULA) that made up the bulk of the value of the settlement.

Did the Oregon State Legislator get a good settlement deal by opting for an Oracle ULA and will they get the value?

True Value of Settlement

As is the case with most numbers presented to the media, the $100 million did not represent the true value of the actual settlement. As any IT procurement professional knows, in a deal of this size a company would expect to receive huge discounts from Oracle. These discounts can go up to 70% or even 80% of list price. In normal circumstances this deal could have been closed out for somewhere between $10-$15 million.

With an Oracle ULA the use of the term “unlimited” can be very misleading; it can be actually the opposite case if you examine closely the details of an agreement. When it comes to Oracle ULAs you never get a unlimited agreement for all Oracle products. Some of the many restrictions to be aware of are:

  • only specific products are included
  • certain products are capped
  • restricted use on products
  • Geographic constraints
  • Available to only specific business units
  • Narrow definition of what constitutes “in-use” or a licensable processor (cores)
  • conditions around reporting and final certification

Compliance Risk

Essentially what these restrictions amount to is a very significant compliance risk if you use your Oracle products in a way that is not properly covered by the ULA.  Couple this with a possible assumption by your IT team that they have full use of any Oracle products (it’s perceived as unlimited after all) and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes time to certify your ULA, in the case of  Oregon State Legislator this comes in 2020.

Expert Advice

I can only hope that the Oregon State Legislator sought 3rd party license advice while they were negotiating this settlement in order to fully ensure they are got the maximum value for such a sizeable investment.

It would also be an imperitive that they have formed a 5-year project to monitor and manage how they are deploying products covered by their Oracle ULA.  If not, when it comes time to certify their ULA in 2020 they might find that they have not reaped the rewards of their unlimited use of certain products.


How we help

If you are currently considering purchasing an Oracle ULA, in the middle of a 3 or 5 year agreement or preparing to certify we can help you work out a significantly better deal.  Details of our Oracle service 

« | »

Piaras MacDonnell