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Oracle licenses, support and the added value of

Last year, Oracle changed its Database product portfolio and introduced Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 to replace Standard Edition and Standard Edition One. On September 19, 2016, Oracle then (for now only as a Cloud Service) introduced Oracle Database version 12.2; the first major upgrade since 2013.

New releases raise questions among many of our customers about the potential licensing and support implications. It is also not always clear what “support” means and whether this is actually necessary for a relatively static environment. We hope to clarify this here.

In a general sense, you can imagine the whole licensing and support as follows:


Licenses Right to Install and Use Oracle Software
Oracle support The warranty on the Oracle Software support (Operational) management and lifecycle management of the Oracle environment, advice, incident handling and basically everything that comes with long-term use…


Licenses are a right to use a software product on a specific environment. Oracle defines products and requires an appropriate license to use such product. At the moment (end 2016) the four most common database products for which licenses are in circulation are:

  • Oracle Database Standard Edition One (no longer available new)
  • Oracle Database Standard Edition (no longer available new)
  • Oracle Database Standard Edition 2
  • Oracle Database Enterprise Edition

Each database product requires a corresponding license and these are not (directly) interchangeable; it is therefore not the case that you should be allowed to run Standard Edition 2 if you still had an unused Standard Edition One license. This has to do with the different usage rights that such products have (SE2 for example has a free RAC option and SE1 does not). Switching from one database variant to another therefore always requires a change of licenses (usually canceling the old one and purchasing the comparable new license).

Oracle also provides software that does not require the purchase of licenses. These are for example Oracle VM and Oracle Linux. These two products can be used “free of charge” but require a support agreement if you want to be able to get support from Oracle in case of problems. See the document “Oracle Linux and Oracle VM Support Policies” that is currently available at

Licenses may be for an unlimited duration (“perpetual”) or for a number of years (“term”). In the case of Oracle Database, you generally license to use the software on a number of “processors” or for a number of identifiable users (“named user plus”). The license applies to the software and not to the databases you run with it. This means that licensed processors can run an unlimited number of databases and vice versa that licensed users can use an unlimited number of processors.

Incidentally, Oracle’s description of “processor” depends on the type of CPU (the so-called “core factor” differs). For Intel X86 processors, Oracle charges 1 “processor” per two CPU cores; the core factor for this is 0.5. The Enterprise Edition database is licensed per processor = 0.5 times the number of Intel cores. An 8-core Intel CPU is therefore 8*0.5=4 “processors” for EE. However, for Standard Edition 2, the license is per physical CPU (“socket”). An 8-core CPU is therefore only a single socket for SE2.

Unless you have relatively few, especially well-known, users, processor licenses will usually be more cost-effective than “named user plus”.

A database license is not optional. Payment must always be made for use.

Some examples:

A 2 x 8-core Enterprise Edition system with perpetual processor licensing requires a 16*0.5=8 “processor” license. The full price for this is approximately € 330,000.

A 2 x 8-core Intel X86 Standard Edition 2 system with perpetual processor licensing requires a 2 “processor” license, as only two sockets are used. The full price for this is approximately €30,000. More than a factor of 10 cheaper than EE in this case.

A 150-user Standard Edition 2 system with a perpetual license. The price for this is about € 46,000 regardless of the type of processors used.

In view of the great variation in price, it is of course worthwhile to carefully determine with which product and to what extent you use your environment most efficiently. This depends, among other things, on your applications, future plans, the current and expected number of users, your hardware infrastructure and whether or not it is virtualized. can help you make the right choice from the forest of options.

Oracle Support for Database Software

Oracle charges support and updates in addition to usage licenses. This support is necessary to maintain the software (patches), to keep it safe (security fixes) and to be able to ask Oracle for advice in the event of malfunctions.

Oracle support is a comprehensive whole. In addition to support and updates, it also includes the right to upgrade to new versions of a product.

For example, without support, you are not allowed to install Oracle 12c database software on a system that only has a license that was purchased when 12c did not exist. So you would have to run on an “outdated” database version forever.

It is not advisable to let a support contract expire and try to reactivate it shortly before an upgrade; In that case, Oracle will calculate a transfer over the time that no support has been paid. The support payments are used by Oracle for ongoing product development.

For these reasons alone, it is always strongly recommended to conclude and renew a support contract in good time.

The other main reason is of course being able to properly support a system, if desired by If Oracle support is not closed for a system, only “known” problems can be solved and then only to the extent that this is possible with the software you already had. The inability to report incidents to Oracle or even download patches or access Oracle’s knowledge base makes solving any other problem an action with uncertain outcome. It is important to realize that errors that sometimes occur can only be solved by Oracle itself.

Oracle has three support levels per product version:

  • Premier ( default , during a version’s active support phase, 3 to 5 years from release)
  • Extended ( only for an additional fee , support for a few years longer for products that are no longer current)
  • Sustaining (after a product is End-of-life and as long as support is paid for it)

To take maximum advantage of support, it is recommended that you use a current database version, which is covered by Premier support. During that period, a product is still actively being developed. Once a product falls into Extended support, it becomes more difficult to resolve unusual failures, while the support costs are higher than in Premier support. Once a database version has ended up in Sustaining support, fixes are over; there is then only access to old patches and requests for help from Oracle. Note that if no extended support has been concluded, a product will immediately fall into sustaining support from the moment of expiry of premier.

An overview of what each support level entails:

Premier support:

  • Upgrade to new database versions
  • Technical support in case of incidents
  • Bug fixes, security patches and database functional improvements
  • Update functions to comply with changing laws and regulations
  • Making the database software suitable for new platforms (hardware and/or software)
  • Access to the Oracle knowledge base.

Extended support:

  • Identical to Premier except for platform updates. For example, the database software is no longer tested or made suitable for new Linux/Windows versions.

sustaining support:

  • Upgrade to new database versions is allowed but it is no longer guaranteed that an in-place upgrade to the latest database version can be done easily using standard procedures.
  • Access to the Oracle knowledge base
  • Technical support for issues already known during the Premier phase
  • Access to patches/updates already published during the premier support phase.

At the moment the support levels are as follows:


Variant and version release End of Premier Support End of Extended Support
All variants 11.2 September 2009 January 2015 Dec 2020
EnterpriseEd. 12.1 June 2013 July 2018 July 2021
Standard Ed. 12.1 June 2013 August 2016 Not possible
Standard Ed. One 12.1 June 2013 August 2016 Not possible
Standard Ed. Two 12.1 September 2015 July 2018 July 2021


From the table above it can be concluded that ideally all recent production systems run on EE or SE2 12.1 databases. (Note: Oracle has offered extended support for version 11.2 at no extra cost until June 2017; however, the regular extended support price will start after that).

Support for Oracle VM and Oracle Linux

Unlike the database software, Oracle Linux and Oracle VM do not have extended support. The support is either Premier or Sustaining.

However, the support period of Premier support is a lot longer than with database versions.

This table shows the current support periods:


Variant and version release End of Premier Support
Oracle Linux 5 March 2007 March 2017
Oracle Linux 6 February 2011 March 2021
Oracle Linux 7 July 2014 July 2024
Oracle VM 2 Nov 2007 Nov 2015
Oracle VM 3 August 2011 August 2019


Support is also very important for the Linux/VM platform software. Without some form of support it is not possible to install (security) patches, which is not only a risk for the security of the system, but also of all data it contains. In addition, there is a risk that any updates of the software that are installed on the system (such as Oracle database) may conflict with non-updated platform software.

For Oracle VM there is only one type of support available: “Oracle VM Premier Support”. This includes software updates, technical support, and the right to perform Oracle VM management from Oracle’s Cloud Control software.

Oracle Linux offers different levels of support. The basic level (Oracle Linux Network Support) does not give you the option to report incidents, but only gives you (security) patches. This will suffice for many, by the way. The levels:


Support (security) patches support Extras
OL Network Support Yes new new
OL Basic Support Yes Yes, 24×7 New hardware support. Enterprise Manager may be used.

Additional software for clustering, tracing, Docker containers and XFS filesystem support.

OL Premier Support Yes Yes, 24×7 As Basic with on top: Lifetime sustaining support.

Addition of patches coming from new Linux versions (“backporting”).

Ksplice (Apply Linux patches without server reboots and thus without downtime!).


We recommend that you always conclude a support contract for each product used, especially since they are often used in combination.

The added value of support by

Oracle support is necessary for every professional environment, but what is the added value of In short, we can take care of the long-term healthy maintenance of your Oracle environment. In addition, we naturally offer assistance with questions you may have in the daily use of your Oracle environment and, where appropriate, we work directly with your application supplier to resolve any problems as quickly and effectively as possible. An Oracle support contract alone is of limited use. There will still be a need for tracking, preparing and applying available updates, interpretation and resolution of incidents, data ex/import/migration and “looking ahead” (capacity planning) to name a few. The amount of work that must be done to monitor and care for a database environment is, in our experience, an undesirable burden for most of our customers. can take care of this for you so that you can simply focus on your business operations.

We hope that the above has cleared up any questions you may have, but are of course at your disposal as always for any questions you may have.,
the database
administrator is the all-round database expert specialized in setting up, maintaining and monitoring database environments. In addition, we provide advice and remove performance problems.