Do you Need Help with an Oracle Audit? – Part 1

Help with an Oracle Audit

What is an audit?

Often we talk to Oracle Users when they have either been audited or have been recently approached by Oracle for an audit; unfortunately there is a lot of misunderstanding about the actual term ‘audit’. The majority of end users we speak to or partners we work with are in fact referring to an Oracle review. The problem is that for many end users they think they are the same thing, but they are not. A true audit is when the contractual right to audit clause in your Oracle contract is invoked; this is not the same thing as a request from Oracle to “review your licences” or to “help you optimise” them.

You can find the audit clause in your Oracle Licence and Services Agreements (OLSA) and the newer Oracle Master Agreements (OMA). Here the licence agreement gives Oracle the right upon generally 45 days’ notice to request access to your systems where its products are installed.

If after Oracle investigates you are found to be under-licensed then you are required to purchase licences to make up the shortfall without the discounts you may have been used to and possibly with the addition of back support. This un-budgeted spend can be a major dent in finances and usually elicits a pretty negative response from Oracle customers. 

However many so called Oracle ‘audits’ are really Oracle reviews in disguise. These Oracle ‘Audit’ imitators could be licence reviews instigated by Sales or in collaboration with Customer Optimisation License Services (COLS), part of the UK Sales Organisation. Oracle may well present the review as an opportunity to confirm your current licenses and understand ways to optimise your licence position. 

“Oracle demanded information to which it is not contractually entitled regarding servers that do not run Oracle software and Mars personnel who do not use Oracle software,” Mars’ complaint read. “Oracle made these demands under false pretenses under false premises that non-use of software nonetheless somehow constitutes licensable use of software for which Mars owes Oracle.” What does an Oracle audit look like? This one certainly wasn’t pretty

But let’s not kid ourselves; the focus is on revenue generation. Optimisation rarely means a reduction in licence or support fees. Do you know of any cases where COLS have engaged and reduced licence or support fees, without new spend? We would love to hear from you if you do. 

The key point to remember is that if Oracle makes any inquiries about your licence position, unless they explicitly provide in a letter, you can assume it is not an audit. In other words you are not contractually obliged to cooperate with Oracle in these non-contract instigated reviews. 

If you do get approached, our advice is to proceed with caution and provide no information until you have taken expert advice. However we do recommend you are cooperative and keep an open dialogue with Oracle. See our blog Oracle is from Mars Customers are from Venus to understand what makes Oracle tick.

If you suspect you may be under-licensed bring in a third party to support you and quickly investigate your level of risk. Do not fill out the Oracle Server worksheet unless you fully understand what is required of you and know that you are accurately filling it in. Any information provided that is incomplete, vague or incorrect will draw more attention and scrutiny.

If you think you may have an issue, seek independent third party advice to help you to understand the full financial impact and also the possible process to mitigate the exposure. 

Oracle understands the process can take some time so do not feel under pressure to respond straight away. You have time to seek advice. Madora have been through the process many, many times so allow us to advise you on when and what to communicate. 

In summary, do insist that any request is stated via a letter/email and check if the contractual right to audit clause is referenced. If you are not sure ask Oracle directly whether this is an actual audit. If it isn’t then decide if you wish to proceed with an Oracle review. Our advice is that carrying out a review can actually be a good thing to get your house in order, but do so with the knowledge and know how, to be empowered when dealing with Oracle. 

Do you need help with an Oracle Audit Part 2 we look at the audit process,what happens next,common pitfalls and questions and resolution. 

If you are under threat of an Audit, or if an Oracle Audit is in flight we can help.  You have a number of options and these can vary between the following :

a free, no obligation and confidential call can often help you understand your situation better and diffuse the stress and concern you may have.

A light touch advisory service where Madora will be in support, helping you through the process and providing validation of any Oracle feedback.

Or where Madora carry out a detailed licence compliance review on your behalf so you are armed with all the necessary information to challenge any data or assumptions provided by Oracle. We will then work with you to manage Oracle and reduce any legal and financial exposure.