Oracle technical support - understanding the facts

25 aug '16 - Andra Tarata - share: LinkedIN Mail
oracle-technical-support-understanding-facts

Historically, Oracle was inconsistent in how long they supported various products and versions of its software programs. This changed in September 2005, when Oracle introduced “Lifetime Support”. With the introduction of Lifetime Support, Oracle started to provide access to technical support and future upgrades to major releases for all its software product lines for a pre-determined period of time.  The different service offerings are known as “Premier Support”, “Extended Support”, and “Sustaining Support” and are available for Oracle’s hardware, database, middleware and applications programs. 

These different support services are provided under the terms and conditions of the so called Oracle Technical Support Policies (OTSP’s). This article provides an overview of the basics terms and specific clauses that you as an end-user should be aware off when obtaining support services from Oracle. The full Oracle Technical Support Policies can be found here.  (Link: http://www.oracle.com/us/support/policies/index.html)


Different support service offerings
Oracle’s Lifetime Support includes three different support service offerings:

  1. Premier Support is Oracle’s standard support which is provided for a period of five years from the launch date of a new production release of a specific product. (the so called “General Availability” (GA) date).  Premier Support includes the right to perform program updates, the right to apply fixes, security alerts and critical patch updates and includes certification with the newest third-party products/versions. In addition, Oracle’s Technical Support Engineers are available 24/7 to support you when you encounter any technical issue while using the software. 

    When new licenses are obtained, the first year support maintenance for Premier Support is included in the transaction and calculated at 22% of the net license fee. As a standard, Premier Support is renewed on an annual basis for a period of 12 months. It is however possible to negotiate a shorter support period (e.g. 6 months) or to negotiate a longer term of support services (e.g. 18 months or 3 years). Support maintenance fees are subject to an annual indexation. On average, Oracle applies an indexation of around 3% of the previous year’s support maintenance fee.
     
  2. Extended Support is provided for a period of three years and becomes available as of the date on which the Premier Support service offering ends. Extended Support includes limited bug fixes with less commitment to interoperability updates, third party platformcertifications and assistance. Extended Support service is not available for all products. 

    Extended Support is calculated at 110% of the last year’s fees paid for Premier Support in the first year of the Extended Support period and 115% for the second and third year of the Extended Support period.
     
  3. Sustaining Support is provided once Extended Support is no longer available; so 8 years after the General Availability date. Sustaining Support is indefinite and offers pre-existing fixes, updates and Critical Patch Updates created during the Premium Support period. No additional fees are applicable to obtain Sustaining Support; the service offering is part of the fees as you are required to pay for the Premier Support services.

As mentioned above, as a standard, the fees applicable for Premier Support services are calculated at 22% of the net license fee. These fees are – especially for large transactions – however negotiable.

As a reference, in case the total net license fees exceed USD 10 million, Oracle typically allows a support maintenance fee of 20% (instead of 22%) of the net license fee. In case the total net license fees exceed USD 25 million, Oracle typically allows a support maintenance fee of 19% or 18% (instead of 22%) of the net license fee. Please note that this usually only is possible when such an investment is done through one single transaction; in case your investments of over USD 10 million results from multiple orders/transactions, the support maintenance fees of these separate orders remains at 22% of the net license fee.

License set
Oracle states in its support policies that “all programs that are part of the same license set” must have the same level of support. But what does this mean? What is a “license set”?

In short, a license set consists of: 

(i) all of the licenses of a program acquired by you as an end-user, including any options (e.g., Database Enterprise Edition and Enterprise Edition Options; Purchasing and Purchasing Options), Data Enterprise Management programs as specified on the Oracle Technology pricelist (e.g., Database Enterprise Edition and Diagnostics Pack), or self-service module (e.g., Human Resources and Self-Service Human Resources) licensed for such programs,

(ii) all of the licenses of a program acquired by a customer that share the same source code.

Oracle software programs that do share the same source code are:

  • Database Enterprise Edition, Database Standard Edition, Database Standard Edition One, Database Standard Edition Two and Database Personal Edition
  • Internet Application Server Enterprise Edition, Internet Application Server Standard Edition, WebLogic Server Enterprise Edition, WebLogic Server Standard Edition, WebLogic Suite, and Web Tier
  • Oracle FLEXCUBE Core Banking programs
  • Oracle FLEXCUBE Universal Banking for Retail programs
  • Oracle FLEXCUBE Universal Banking for Corporate programs
  • Oracle FLEXCUBE Lending & Leasing programs
  • Oracle Daybreak programs
  • Oracle Banking programs

As a result of the above, it is clear that a “license set” is not defined or limited to the software programs obtained purchased through one single ordering document; a license set can span multiple ordering documents.  As an example, if you purchase Oracle Database Enterprise Edition through 1 one order, Oracle Database Standard Edition TWO through another order and licenses for the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition option “Partitioning” through 3 three separate ordering documents, all these licenses are still part of the same license set.

Matching service levels
Oracle’s Matching Service Level policy has been put in place to make sure that end-users cannot obtain support services for a  subset of their licenses and subsequently apply the benefits of the associated support service to all of their software. Oracle requires for either all the licenses that do belong to one and the same “license set” to have an active support maintenance contract, or none of the licenses that do belong to one and the same “license set” to have an active support maintenance contract.

As per Oracle’s Technical Support policy:
When acquiring technical support, all licenses in any given license set must be supported under the same technical support service level (e.g., Software Update License & Support, Oracle Communications Network Premier Support or unsupported). If Customers add Extended Support, they still must maintain Software Update License & Support for the entire license set. Subject to availability, customers must acquire Extended Support for all licenses of a particular version release of a program if they acquire Extended Support for any license in such version release. 

If an end-user has Oracle programs for its internal use and also hosts Oracle programs on behalf of other end-users, both the internal use programs and the hosted programs need to be supported at the same level.  Likewise, if an end-user has Oracle programs for its internal use and has other Oracle programs hosted by another company, both the hosted and internal use programs need to be supported at the same level.

Shelving
Oracle’s standard License Set and Matching Service Level policies state that licenses without an active support maintenance contract must be terminated. This license termination is done through a so called “ Termination Letter”. By signing this Termination Letter, the end-user agrees  to terminate the licenses listed in this letter.  Once the termination letter is signed, the end-user no longer has any right to use the terminated licenses (even if the licenses are so called “perpetual” licenses). As such, in case an end-user requires additional licenses at any point in the future, the end-user is required to then purchase additional licenses and support maintenance.  In other words, the end-user is not allowed to “re-activate” the terminated licenses. 

However, under specific circumstances, an end-user may receive approval to discontinue support for a subset of licenses without having to terminate the unsupported licenses. This is called “Shelving Rights”. 

Conclusion:
Oracle offers various support services,  suitable both for end-users that want to make use of the latest version of the software programs and for end-users that want to make use of an older version of the software programs. It is however important to always keep an eye on the specific terms and conditions that are applicable to the support services provided. End-users should not fear these terms and conditions but actually determine what opportunities can be identified for their specific situation, in order to avoid and/or save costs. 

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Implementing Oracle Multitenant can have large benefits, but it also affects licensing. Ensure a smooth transition by knowing licensing implications beforehand.

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