Oracle's new database patch could cost you $23,000 per processor

Latest patch set for Oracle's database automatically enables in-memory processing -- a feature for which Oracle charges extra

If Oracle's licensing terms never struck you as invidious before, you might soon change your mind.

According to The Register, the latest patch set for Oracle Database 12 includes an upgrade to Oracle's loudly trumpeted in-memory database technology, the company's implementation of a database-acceleration feature now being put to use by Microsoft and many other competitors.

Oracle's in-memory processing isn't free, though. And enabling it will cost you $23,000 per processor. What's more, according to analysis by EMC's Kevin Closson, the in-memory features appear to be turned on by default by the patches.

The upshot is that anyone who applies the latest patches and isn't conscientious enough to determine whether they really need (or can afford) the in-memory features could find themselves in the hole for at least five figures next time a license audit comes up.

Oracle's competition has hammered on the issue of tricky and exorbitant licensing. Scarcely a version of SQL Server goes by without Microsoft underscoring the ease of its licensing terms compared to Oracle's. While open source databases -- PostgreSQL and MariaDB, in particular -- tout their low total cost of ownership as a standard selling point, they come down exceptionally hard on the benefits of their deals in the long run versus Oracle's.

Not surprisingly, Oracle's earnings indicate that a greater share of the company's revenue is coming from support and license upgrades, rather than new customers. Likewise, it makes sense that the company will try and wring as much revenue as it can out of feature bumps for existing users.

Silent upsell tactics like this rile the folks at Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL), a not-for-profit founded to put pressure on commercial software makers to keep their licensing terms transparent and honest. When word of Oracle's in-memory upsell reached CCL, CEO Mark Flynn condemned the practice of auto-enrollment across the board. "Any change to a software license that will cost the user more money should always be opted in by the customer," Flynn stated in a press release.

Doubly ironic, Oracle was the first company that CCL engaged with in an attempt to help simplify the company's licensing rules. In February CCL solicited feedback about Oracle licensing from the public ahead of its scheduled meeting with Oracle in April. The CCL website does not mention what took place at that meeting, but a CCL press release notes: "We are already working with Oracle to help make licensing simpler and more transparent, but as this update suggests, change will take time."

Until then, it seems the best policy is to keep one's eyes open and read all the release notes.

This story, "Oracle's new database patch could cost you $23,000 per processor," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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