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Oracle ULA: What you need to know

Despite the name, an Oracle ULA - Unlimited License Agreement is not that (unlimited). There are a whole host of pitfalls and ways to get in trouble with a ULA.

A ULA can provide great utility to organizations if done right, the key is to tread lightly.

Note that this article provides a basic overview of Oracle ULAs, the information provided herein is not exhaustive. Individual licenses and contracts may vary from instance to instance. Consulting with your Oracle rep is the best way to navigate and understand your agreement.

What is a ULA

As previously stated, a ULA is an Unlimited License Agreement, but unlike the bar at your brother's wedding, you cannot have as much as you want. In a ULA you can download only specified subsets of Oracle products during a specific period of time.

ULAs are typically employed by large organizations and can be worth millions. The attraction comes from the potential to save money, as paying to have a ULA enables a company to grow and add pieces of software without having to stop and re-up every step of the way.

An Oracle Case Study found that one Oracle customer employing a ULA was able to save $12 million over a three-year term.

Oracle ULA do's and Don'ts

ULAs offer convenience and allow for scalability of organizations so take full advantage to maximize your ROI here. However, it is easy to get into trouble.

As an organization you must carefully forecast your possible Oracle usage prior to entering the agreement. To that same point you must monitor and keep careful tabs on your environment and what you're using.

The reason for this is because at the end of the agreement Oracle will ask you to "certify" the agreement. In other words, Oracle is going to check that you didn't breach the contract and are still in compliance.

DO NOT think that just because they're "unlimited" license agreements that you can download any or as much software as you want.

The ULA Process

There are two paths that a ULA can take, below is the pathway of how things should work:

  • Customer signs ULA
  • Customer downloads software throughout the term of the agreement
  • At the end of the contract Oracle wants to "certify" that the customer is in compliance - this is essentially an audit
  • The customer certifies and the ULA ends and all involved parties are satisfied

Here is the unfortunate, yet all too common path that most ULA customers take:

  • Customer signs ULA
  • Customer downloads software
    • At the end of the contract, Oracle wants them to certify however, because of a lack of oversite and poor understanding of the agreement, the customer cannot verify how much Oracle has been used or what products were downloaded
  • Oracle offers two paths out of this situation:
    1. Face legal penalties and fines
    2. Sign another ULA
  • Most times a customer will sign another ULA in an attempt to cover what was out of compliance at the end of the previous agreement.

Oracle most often pushes customers to "re-up" their ULA. It should be easy to see how this can be a dangerous cycle, especially when the root cause of most issues is customers not knowing what's happening in their environments.

The chart below provides a visual aid for this process.

Oracle ULA flow chart describing process with blue boxes and gray lines.

Be ULA smart with Vendita

The two main ways that people get in trouble with this kind of agreement is by not properly managing their environment and by not understanding the contract that they have agreed to.

Vendita has a solution to both scenarios. The first, understanding what's going on in your Oracle environment is easy with our tool, MAS.

MAS Oracle Compliance

Through a graphical UI, MAS enables database administrators to see what's running in their Oracle environment as well as when it was installed. MAS does this by using actual Oracle audit scripts that are accepted by Oracle GLAS.

Essentially with MAS you can self-audit anytime to see what's happening in your Oracle environment through an easy to use graphical UI. See below.

Vendita SAM team

Vendita has over a decade of experience helping clients around the globe navigate their Oracle licensing. No one knows Oracle like we do.

Leverage our team of Oracle licensing experts to help navigate terms and conditions so you don't get burned.

In Conclusion

ULAs can be a great thing if utilized properly. If you're considering a ULA, let Vendita guide you and provide the tool necessary to get the most out of it.

Contact us here, to get the conversation started.

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