Oracle prepares user guide to pricing

Oracle plans to release a pricing guide later this year to clear up confusion among users about its licensing policies, an executive of the Redwood Shores, California, software maker said Tuesday.

"We are in the process of creating a software investment guide that talks about all of our licensing policies. There is not enough information out there," said Jacqueline Woods, Oracle's vice president in charge of pricing in a session on pricing at the Oracle World event here. The guide is due out late July or early August, she said.

Woods answered a slew of questions about Oracle's licensing from attendees of the busy session. Oracle's processor-based pricing model, announced in June last year, has many users wondering what they need to pay, especially when Oracle's software is used in a segmented system or in a cluster, a setup Oracle has widely promoted.

Attendees questioned Woods about Oracle's pricing policy on backup, standby, and failover machines, either standalone or connected in a cluster. Users also asked about pricing with software-based segmenting and processor resource assignment.

In all instances a user would have to pay full price, Woods said. The enterprise edition of Oracle's 9i database costs US$40,000 per processor.

"Under our current policy you would have to pay for all processors, unless you physically segment the CPU (central processing unit). It is something we are looking at and we are aware of customer questions," she said.

Users have to "completely disconnect" the machine if they don't want to pay, Woods said, which was not the answer some in the audience were looking for.

"I would not be able to convince my company to pay fully for two machines if one of them is only meant as a backup," said one attendee who asked not to be named.

An IT manager for a large European phone company, who also declined to be named, asked if he could run the standard edition of the Oracle 9i database on a machine that is designed for six processors, but only has one. The standard edition costs $15,000 per processor with a maximum of four CPUs allowed.

"No," said Woods, noting that there is always the risk of license abuse. "But this question has come up before and I will go talk to Larry (Ellison, Oracle's chief executive) about that."

Systems available from Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. allow users to physically partition processors, so that users only pay for the actual number of CPUs used, Woods said.

Oracle's processor-based model replaced the heavily-criticized power unit pricing in June last year. [See "Oracle revamps pricing with 9i release," June 14, 2001.] The software investment guide is not a change in licensing policy, an Oracle spokeswoman stressed.

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