Oracle OpenWorld: VMware says licensing, not support, is the issue

Companies can continue to expect support from Oracle if they run the software on VMware's virtualisation platform, despite Oracle statements to the contrary.

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Companies can continue to expect support from Oracle if they run the software on VMware's virtualisation platform, despite Oracle statements to the contrary.

The problem, VMware says, is not Oracle's apparent pulling of support for its applications on virtualisation platforms other than their own Oracle VM, which it announced on Monday, but its unwillingness to reform its software licensing policies, which would force customers adopting virtualisation to pay many times more.

"Customers are not trying to pay less, they just don't want to pay eight or ten times more," said Brian Byun, vice-president of global partners and solutions for VMware, in an interview on Thursday. "That's the larger issue at hand."

For instance, a company that runs an Oracle database in a VMware virtual machine and wishes to port that single instance from one physical server to another would technically be forced to buy an additional Oracle license for each physical server used, Byun said. Or if an application in a VM is apportioned to use only 1 out of 4 CPUs in a server, the company would still have to buy a license for an entire server.

"That doesn't make sense," he said.

Software vendors such as SAP, BEA Systems, and IBM have adapted their software licensing policies to make them more virtualisation-friendly, Byun said. Even Microsoft, which VMware criticised earlier this year, "has made some positive moves. They are halfway there," Byun said. Oracle remains a laggard, he said.

On Oracle's apparent pulling of support of its applications running on competing virtualisation platforms, Byun argues that nothing has changed.

Since 2006, Oracle has supported most of its applications (including its database) running on top of VMware, he said, with "hundreds of customers" doing just that.

As of Thursday, that was still officially the case, he said, pointing to Metalink Note 249212.1 at Oracle's support Web site (registration required ), which he said is Oracle's official statement concerning support for VMware.

Byun also pointed to statements by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison during a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday during which in response to a question from a Bear, Stearns analyst over whether Oracle customers would get support on VMware, Ellison replied, "Essentially, yes."

"There's been some aggressive marketing spin and black-and-white statements made by Oracle," Byun said. While he acknowledged that Oracle is not certifying its applications for VMware, support should continue to be quite "useable," according to Byun.

"I think Oracle will inevitably will have to support us more, because the number of Oracle/VMware customers is only increasing," he said.

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