This is the third article in the series. Before we start, let’s recap the overall process we are going though in this series. The objective of the process is to understand what Oracle support is being paid and whether there is scope to reduce costs by dropping support.
Today we will focus on understanding whether any of the products we are paying support for are actually being used, if not, then to assess whether there is a case for dropping support. Ideally we would like to do a full inventory assessment across the entire Oracle estate to understand the actual usage for every product in the organisation. Clearly a full assessment could be a lengthy exercise, albeit a valuable one. So our recommendation is to take an iterative approach with a rough first pass and then continue to refine if the initial results dictate the effort.
Usually but not always, customers buy software on an “as and when” basis. Unless you have purchased some sort of enterprise agreement, ULA or pool of funds, the line items on your spreadsheet when grouped by CSI (Customer Support Identifier) number will likely correspond to a group purchase of products at a given point in time that is related to projects or business systems which are underpinned by the technology. Hopefully there is still domain knowledge either within the business, procurement or IT as to what these licenses were purchased for. Working with your IT Operations team, walk through your support spreadsheet and sort by CSI number; this will show products purchased together on a given date. Ask the DBAs what servers these products are installed on and check with them and confirm with the business that these products are in use.
For each product tag the server name, processor type of the machine and the total number of cores. The total number of processors or Named User Plus purchased and shown on your support spreadsheet should match the products installed. (See the following blog post to understand how to calculate the total licensable processors for each server). It is possible that the hardware has changed or been updated since the licenses were purchased and this can materially affect the license requirement. Do make sure you have enough licenses to cover the current infrastructure or note if you have an excess. Now if you find that the licenses are not being used or are surplus to requirements then don’t get too excited just yet as you need to be clear that these product licenses are not deployed elsewhere. In other words, although you believe the licenses purchased are not being used for the original project intended, has other product been deployed without your knowledge? It is not untypical for a customer to be over deployed on one hand and under deployed on another. For those licenses not in use, again tag and highlight the line items. Sum up all the potential product lines not required and make a decision on whether to proceed to the next phase. Whether it is worth proceeding will depend on just what percentage of the total support you are potentially reducing. Tens of thousands of pounds or hundreds of thousands of pounds, would make a big dent in the annual support fees. If the potential cost saving is big enough then further diligence is required in Phase 2.
Again in an ideal world a full inventory scan would be useful but for simplicity and speed an investigation into only the products that you believe are not being used is needed. The reason we do these imperfect passes is that we are trying to assess the magnitude of the opportunity or lack of it. Doing a full inventory review to find out that there is only a small opportunity for savings, may not be a good return of time and money. Instead take an iterative approach to get a view on whether to proceed and get more detailed information on which to make a decision. For each server in your estate request the DBAs to run a script to identify if the products are installed and in use. We would highly recommend using an automated discovery tool to search your network across a range of IP address if your estate is large. If you can not discover any more instances of the product then you are ready to start having a discussion with Oracle about reducing support fees. Before you do so however, wait for our next article in this series, which will highlight the gotchas surrounding this.
In our final article, we will look at working with Oracle to cancel support on unused products and to recalculate the support fee on contracts where a partial reduction in the product list is required.
As you can see the process can be complex and arduous. Madora Consulting have been through this process many times and we can advise you at any point on the process. Why not get in touch for a friendly conversation to discuss whether we can help reduce your Support fees.