Named User definitions that Oracle had in the past are very diverse. Some time ago – as a result of a critical note by the Meta Group (read it here) – a change was made that distinguishes ‘Named User Plus’ definitions from it’s predecessor, being the ‘Named User’ definition. Now what’s the difference, and what does it mean for you?

The Named User definition is missing a phrase over the ‘Plus’ version (introduced on September 6, 2002).When you look at the Oracle Store (Named User Plus or in your contract) you will see that according to the definition Named User Plus definition “Automated batching of data from computer to computer is permitted”. As you have probably read in the link above, you understand by now that the right to do such batching under the ‘Named User’ definition was not yet allowed. So, what does it mean?

According to Wikipedia, a batch is this: “Batch processing is execution of a series of programs (“jobs” on a computer without manual intervention..”. However, whenever you ask Oracle what is meant by the section in their definition, you’ll hear something like “the automatic transfer of data from one relational database to another rational rational database without the data being manipulated in this process”. And they’ll throw some SQL at you claiming that ‘Insert’ queries are allowed, but ‘Update’ statements are not allowed. So, if you import  to (or export from) a Lotus Notes database it’s not free for you even if you have the Named User Plus definition, since Lotus Notes is not relational but hierarchical. However, your automated batch to (or from) IBM DB2 or MySQL is free of charge.

Moreover, in the transition to the ‘Plus’ definition, Oracle has increased the minimum required number of licenses per Processor. In the Named User contracts the minimum requirements varied: Per contract per period, and even per MHz of the server and each processor architecture (are you still there?). In the Named User Plus, the definition of at least 25 Named User Plus licenses per processor for the Enterprise Edition of the database. All you need to know what will of course Oracle under a “processor” means. All in all, enough reasons to continue the (unrealistic) discussions about a generic way of licensing.

Finally. Who will be the first to defend a dispute over the term of ‘batching’ in court? Yes, it is evident that it may have big implications for some. Surely, Oracle will try to throw their Software Investment Guide at you, but can throw it back at them while pinpointing the disclaimer in the footer of that document: It’s not a part of your contractual agreement. At least in the Netherlands, a court will always decide what’s the right or wrong based on the ‘spirit of the contract’. Exciting, is not it?

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