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Oracle Certification vs Oracle Support

Chuck Edwards | | April 21, 2010

At Collaborate this week, I received a lot of questions regarding support and certification for Oracle on Amazon Web Services.  After unraveling a few of these questions, I realized that the difference between “certification” and “support” has become quite confused.  I thought a quick explanation might help, because the difference is not really that subtle and definitely important. Certification is something that Oracle does with its software.  A certified combination implies that Oracle says that if you follow the instructions exactly, the software will run on the certified operating system.  I say operating system specifically, because customers may use any storage system, computer hardware, virtualization hypervisor, or other infrastructure components they like; Oracle does not usually state that any particular component may not be used, only that certain OS versions must be run for the combination to be certified. Support is something you buy from Oracle.  When you purchase a support contract, it means you are allowed to apply updates, install patches, and log issues with Oracle Support to ask for help.  A support contract is valid unless the terms if that contract are violated.  Modifying Oracle’s code or not paying support fees are ways to invalidate a support contract.  Running Oracle’s software, even on an non-certified operating system, does not invalidate an Oracle support contract; however, Oracle Support may determine that even if a customer is running Oracle software in a certified way, support may be required from other parties to resolve the issue. I believe this is the heart of the confusion:  Certification does not guarantee issue resolution because certification only accounts for the software and the operating system.  Support does not guarantee issue resolution either because it only applies to the software. I’ll break this down a little further: Myth number one:  Certification guarantees support. Only support fees guarantee support.  But even if you have purchased support and are running on a certified OS, there may still be situations where Oracle Support tells you to talk to someone else to fix the problem because they have determined the problem is not with their software.  VMware is a great example. Myth number two:  Running on something (OS, hardware, hypervisor, cloud provider, etc.) not certified by Oracle invalidates Support. As stated before, certification is rarely against anything but an operating system.  Customers use all kinds of computers, networking, storage, and virtualization underneath the OS, none of which have official Oracle certification, but are dealt with all time time by Oracle Support.  Even running Oracle on an OS that isn’t certified does not invalidate a support contract, it simply means you will not be able to use it until you do. And so it is with AWS.  Oracle fully supports deployment of the database, middleware, and Enterprise Manager on EC2; however, EC2 problems must always be resolved by Amazon.  It is not reasonable to expect Oracle to know the internals of anything we customers might decide to use for hardware (real or virtual) so Oracle Support reserves the right to say, “We can’t replicate your problem with the same OS and software combination – please go eliminate the variable of <insert component here.>”

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