Oracle on AWS – Licensing Guide 2023

Oracle licensing on AWS – Why is it so hard?

Oracle does not want users to move their database to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and instead wants them to use Oracle’s own cloud platform. However, if you do decide to move your Oracle licenses to AWS, you have two options. One is to deploy on an Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance and ensure that you accurately count your licenses and follow Oracle’s licensing policies. The other option is to use the AWS Relational Database Service (RDS), which includes some licensing options. Many users choose to use the EC2 option and bring their own licenses. It is important to understand that Oracle has designated only Microsoft Azure and AWS as authorized public cloud providers and has provided specific licensing rules for these platforms. If you are using any other public cloud provider, the normal on-premises Oracle licensing rules apply. Google Cloud Platform is not an authorized provider, and Oracle is licensed in the same way on GCP as it would be on any traditional hosting service. This article provides guidance on licensing Oracle on AWS, including options for both EC2 and RDS.

What is AWS EC2?

AWS EC2 (Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud) is a cloud computing service that provides flexible computing capacity. If you want to run your Oracle database on an EC2 instance, you will need to license the Oracle software based on the number of occupied sockets on the instance. Oracle’s Core Factor Table outlines the number of required licenses for different CPU architectures, and it is important to note that each core counts towards the number of required licenses. This policy applies to EC2 instances running Oracle applications and databases that are licensed based on the number of vCPUs. It is possible to transfer an existing Oracle license to AWS instances, but Oracle’s licensing policy may change at any time, so it is important to stay updated. Oracle representatives may claim that your License is not compatible with AWS EC2 instances and that you need to purchase Enterprise Edition licensing for SE2 RDS instances, but this is not always the case. AWS offers several licensing options for Oracle on its platform, including the option to use a flexible licensing model that allows you to run your database on a single instance. If you are using Oracle Standard Edition, you should only need to count one CPU per virtual core, but Oracle Enterprise Edition requires four-processor licenses for each eight vCPU.

What is AWS RDS for Oracle?

AWS RDS for Oracle is a service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that allows you to run your database on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and gives you full control over your infrastructure, database environment, and operating system. You can choose which tools you use to manage your database and select optional modules, but you need to have a good understanding of all the components and how to optimize performance. AWS RDS provides you with an Oracle license, which means you don’t need to bring your own License or purchase one from Oracle. AWS is an approved cloud vendor for Oracle, so your existing Oracle licenses will work on Amazon RDS instances. AWS RDS offers various options for tuning and diagnosing your Oracle database, including different physical CPU models and instance types with preconfigured configurations of vCPUs, memory, storage, and networking capacity. The Memory Optimized instance type, particularly the R5B model, is particularly beneficial for performance monitoring due to its high I/O throughput. You must follow Oracle’s technical support policies when using AWS for RDS. Amazon RDS for Oracle supports two license models: Bring Your Own License (BYOL) and License Included. With BYOL, you can use your own Oracle licenses to run Oracle on Amazon RDS. This option is suitable for customers who already have Oracle licenses and want to use them on Amazon RDS. With the License Included option, you don’t need to bring your own Oracle licenses. The cost of the Oracle license is included in the hourly rate for the Amazon RDS instance. This option is suitable for customers who don’t have Oracle licenses or want to use Amazon RDS without the hassle of managing Oracle licenses. AWS RDS for Oracle is available in two options: License Included or Bring Your Own License. For the License Included option, Oracle Database Standard Edition One and Two are available. For the Bring Your Own License option, Oracle Database EE, SE2, and SE1 are available. If you have AWS Disaster Recovery (DR) sites, you will need to fully license all Oracle instances at both sites. For Java licensing on AWS, you only need to license per vCPU.

AWS Baremetal explained

AWS Baremetal Solutions offer the following features:

  • The option to run Oracle on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Bare Metal allows customers to benefit from AWS’s support and scalability while also accessing high-end performance.
  • This option is generally well-suited for customers operating on a large scale and offers licensing advantages over AWS.
  • It is important to note that Oracle on AWS is considered a hosting partner rather than a cloud provider, which means that you need to treat licensing like you would do on-premises.

Oracle license calculation on AWS EC2

To calculate Oracle licensing on AWS, you need to:

  1. Determine the number of vCPUs that the Database software will be run on.
  2. If multi-threading is enabled:
  • Two vCPUs will count as one processor license.
  1. If multi-threading is not enabled:
  • Each vCPU will count as one processor license.
  1. This calculation applies to all core-based Oracle software products.

For example:

  • If you plan to run Oracle Database Enterprise Edition on an eight vCPU instance with multi-threading enabled, you will need to purchase four processor licenses.
  • If you plan to run the same software on the same eight vCPU instances with multi-threading disabled, you will need to purchase eight processor licenses.

Oracle licensing benefits on AWS

The benefits of licensing Oracle on AWS include the following:

  • The ability to license capacity based on vCPU.
  • Oracle’s licensing policy for virtualization (licensing all physical hosts) does not apply.

However, it is important to be aware of Oracle on AWS licensing compliance issues:

  • Check your territory clause in the Oracle Ordering Document to see if you are allowed to deploy Oracle in the AWS region you are considering.
  • Review your licensing agreement for any other restrictions that may prevent you from deploying in AWS.
  • Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 can only be licensed on an AWS instance with a maximum of 8 vCPUs.
  • Oracle’s Unlimited License Agreement (ULA) may not allow you to include AWS deployments in your exit numbers. Check the certification clause in your Oracle ULA for details.

Top 5 Oracle licensing compliance issues to be aware of when using AWS:

  • Deploying Oracle Database Standard Edition One or Two on an AWS instance with more than eight vCPUs. Oracle’s cloud licensing policy limits the size of the AWS instance that can run these versions to a maximum of 8 vCPUs. If you install them on an instance with more vCPUs, you will need to license the Enterprise Edition.
  • Counting named user plus licenses incorrectly when using Oracle Database SE2 on AWS. Oracle requires a minimum of 10 user licenses per 8 vCPUs for SE2 deployments, even if you only have five users. This requirement applies to both on-premises and cloud deployments.
  • Using Oracle Enterprise Management options on Standard Edition databases on AWS. The Diagnostic and Tuning pack options are Enterprise Edition options and are not available for Standard Edition databases. However, there are no technical limitations to using these products to manage your Standard Edition database. If Oracle audits your company and discovers any current or historical usage of these options, you will be required to license the Enterprise Edition. You can use Oracle license compliance scripts to identify any unlicensed usage of database options.
  • Using AWS RDS (License included) to host a proprietary application. The Oracle license included with AWS RDS is only for internal business operations and is only valid for one entity (you). You are not allowed to extend usage or access to third-party legal entities. For example, using the license-included option as a SaaS solution is not allowed. The License included option only includes standard terms.
  • Bringing your own License (BYOL) to AWS RDS without reviewing your Oracle licensing agreements. When you bring your own License to AWS RDS, the same licensing terms that apply on-premises also apply to your deployment in AWS. There may be limitations on how you can use and deploy Oracle software. Be sure to review your Oracle Ordering Document to understand if there are any terms that prevent you from using your licenses in AWS RDS.