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Oracle Licensing on EC2

Chuck Edwards | | April 21, 2010

When it comes to licensing Oracle Databases on Amazon EC2, EC2 pricing does not include Oracle licensing fees, even when using an Oracle-supplied AMI.  Oracle customers must bring their own licenses to EC2 or purchase new licenses for the Amazon cloud.

Processor Licensing

Because EC2 does not have the notion of a processor socket, which drives Oracle processor licensing, EC2 licensing is determined by counting virtual cores.  Each AWS instance uses a specific number of virtual cores as defined in the EC2 instance type descriptions. EC2 instances up to 4 virtual cores are counted as 1 socket, which is considered equivalent to a single processor license. For EC2 instances with more than 4 virtual cores, every 4 virtual cores used (rounded up to the closest multiple of 4) equate to a licensing requirement of 1 socket. For example, an m1.small instance uses 1 CPU core.  The 1 core would be rounded up to the nearest multiple of 4, which is 4.  Since 4 cores is equal to 1 socket, or processor, running an m1.small instance would require 1 Oracle processor license. Please note that you cannot aggregate core use across multiple instances.  For example, even though 4 m1.small instances would use a total of 4 cores, 4 processor licenses would be required.  That is because Oracle considers each instance a separate “system.”  Much like multiple physical servers, Oracle licensing cannot be aggregated across EC2 instances.

Edition Limitations

There are limits to the size of the instance that may run Standard Edition and Standard Edition One databases.  Under cloud computing, Oracle Standard Edition One may only be licensed on EC2 instances up to 8 virtual cores, while Standard Edition can only be licensed on EC2 instances up to 16 virtual cores. Before worrying too much about this limitation, it should be noted that no EC2 instance has more than 8 cores.  SE1 may therefore be used on any EC2 instance, while the SE core limitation is moot. Enterprise Edition has no stated core limitations.

Named User Licensing

Standard named user plus licensing applies, including counting the minimums where applicable.

Unlimited License Agreements

Also note that licenses acquired under unlimited license agreements (ULAs) can be used in the Amazon EC2 environment but customers may not include those licenses in the certification at the end of the ULA term. This information has been compiled based on what Oracle has published on OTN and is meant as a general guideline.  All customers interested in purchasing or migration existing Oracle licensing to EC2 should talk to their Oracle sales person for detailed guidance. Oracle’s official licensing document can be found here.

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