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. Very few clients we talk to have actually been officially audited. The problem is that for many end users they think they are the same thing, but they are not.
A true audit – is when a contractual right to audit clause in your contract is invoked. This is not the same thing as a request from Oracle. With Oracle, 45 days notice is a standard and you can find the audit clause in the old OLSA – (Oracle Licence and Services Agreements and the newer Oracle Master Agreements). Here the licence agreement gives Oracle the right upon notice to request access to your systems where its products are installed. If, after Oracle investigate and run their scripts, you are found to be under-licensed then you are typically required to purchase the license – without the discounts you may have been used to and possibly with the addition of back support. This un-budgeted spend can be major dent in finances and usually elicits a pretty negative response from Oracle customers.
However, a lot of so called Oracle ‘audits’ are really Oracle reviews in disguise. These Oracle ‘Audit’ imitators could be license reviews instigated by Sales or in collaboration with COLS. (Compliance and Optimisation License Services, part of UK Sales Organisation).
Oracle may well present the review as an opportunity to confirm your current licenses and understand ways to optimise your license position. But let’s not kid ourselves, the focus is on revenue generation. Optimisation rarely means a reduction in licence or support fees. Anyone know where COLS have engaged and reduced licence or support fees, without new spend? We would love to hear.
The key point to remember is that if Oracle make any inquiry about your Oracle license position, unless they explicitly provide a letter to you, you can assume it is not an audit. In other words you are not contractually obliged to cooperate with Oracle in the review.
If you do get approached, our advice is to proceed with caution and provide no information until you taken some third party expert advice.
• However we do recommend you are cooperative and keep an open dialogue. See our blog Oracle is from Mars Customers are from Venus.
• 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 you know 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.
Madora can help here, a free, no obligation and confidential call can often help you understand your situation better and diffuse the stress and concern you may have. Oracle understand 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. Either way a quick call with Madora will set you in good stead.