Oracle Administration – Part 1

For most DBAs, not only is there Oracle database administration
to deal with, but there are Oracle administration issues as well. What do I
mean by "Oracle administration?" Depending on your role within your
company, "administration" can encompass several areas related to the
use and licensing of Oracle’s software. Some of these areas include MetaLink
(and its site administration), licensing (yours and your customers), Partner
program involvement, and sales/reseller functions.

This two-part series will provide you with an overview of
some fairly important aspects of Oracle administration. If you are the DBA, all
eyes may be upon you for everything involving Oracle. "But I’m just a DBA"
is a battle cry of the narrow minded. Oracle administration is a topic area
with which you need to be familiar. For example, if you are a "developer/DBA"
type of DBA (which is becoming more common) and you have grand plans to migrate
your Oracle Forms and Reports to the web, although the nuts and bolts of
performing the migration work may be easy, you have to take into account the
impact of that migration on your customers. Your customers might not appreciate
the fact that your work just cost them $24,000 to improve something that wasn’t
broken or didn’t need fixing in the first place. Oracle Corporation does that
by design (fixes things that weren’t broken), and if you do that, at least do
it with cause and not out of ignorance.

Let’s start this investigation into Oracle administration by
examining some key areas.

MetaLink

You already know what MetaLink is and how it can help you.
Two areas of MetaLink frequently overlooked are the "Certify &
Availability" and "Patches" links. For the most part, Oracle
Corporation goes out of its way to explain which product is certified against
which platform with which patch, and so on. Have you tried installing Forms 6i
on Windows XP Home? Is there life for Forms 6i after Windows XP? If you do not
have access to MetaLink (through your workplace), you are at a disadvantage.
Much of your information about product versus platform certification probably
comes from the rumor mill. (Forms 6i is not certified against XP Home, only against
XP Professional, and no, XP is the last supported Windows version for 6i.)

To get a copy of most any Oracle product, Oracle Technology
Network is open 24×7, and everything there is free. You just have to affirm you
are not under the control of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria,
or extraterrestrials. But, how do you get a patch? Occasionally, a patched
version may be available for download at OTN (and there used to be an ftp
site), but otherwise, you get patches via MetaLink, and that implies you have a
CSI.

Your key to MetaLink access is a CSI number. What does "CSI"
stand for? Customer support identifier? Actually, CSI stands for "CPU Support
Identification," but for all practical purposes, "customer support
identifier" is close enough. Just like the way you get privileges with
American Express, you get privileges with your CSI. Don’t go to work without
it. A good way to learn more about support is to spend time reading what is
already written. If you do not know the difference between ES and EMS, or do
not even know what those are, this link is for you: http://www.oracle.com/support/index.html?policies.html.

Licensing

You know its there, but you do not want anything to do with
it because it seems so uncoordinated and disjoint. Whom do you contact at
Oracle to find out what a product costs? You can almost get as many different
answers as the number of calls you make. And the turnover! Sometimes, I get a
call every three to four weeks from a new sales support representative. I don’t
even try to remember their names anymore. I think my current one is named
Clair. She sounded friendly on the phone, so I wished her good luck on her new
job.

Therefore, to help demystify what a product costs, let’s use
Oracle Application Server 10g Enterprise Edition as an example. Why the
Enterprise Edition, you ask? Because you want to migrate your forms to the web
using Forms 9i/10g. But, why not the Standard Edition? Because forms services
comes with the Business Intelligence installation option, and the BI option is
only available with the EE version. That’s why. Aside from the installation
guide, actually finding a reference to that factoid is an exercise in of
itself. Nevertheless, here it is: http://www.oracle.com/appserver/index.html?pkgsum.html.
Scroll down in the Feature Summary to where Forms Services is shown and note
the big red check mark under the EE column.

Oracle Store (available under the "Buy" link with
the shopping cart on most Oracle Corporation web pages) is the place to start.
From the screen shot below, you can see there is a lot to choose from.

Navigate to Application Server using the tab. At the bottom
of the web page, the list of values shows "Internet Application Server
Enterprise Edition – Processor Perpetual[$20,000.00]" and "Internet
Application Server Enterprise Edition – Named User Plus Perpetual[$400.00]."
(http://oraclestore.oracle.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=13805)

The translation of these options is this: For 49 or fewer
users, it is cheaper to buy 49 $400 named user "seats," and for 51 or
more users, it is cheaper to buy the $20,000 version. At 50 users, the cost is
the same either way. "I have three users who need this product, so the
cost is only $1200." If you click on the "Check User Minimums"
link on the right, you will see that the EE version requires a minimum of 10
named users, so your cost is really $4000. Remember, you are only the bearer
of bad news. You are not the one who made these pricing schemes.

The table below shows the user minimums for several
products.

As another quick example, look at the last row of the table.
You can see there is a "5 Named Users Plus" minimum for Oracle
Standard Edition One. If you have seen any advertising for Oracle’s push into
the small to medium business market*** ("You can own Oracle for only $749!"),
that is where the $749 comes from (5 users times $149 per user under the "Oracle
Standard Edition One – Named User Plus Perpetual[$149.00]" option).

***Oracle
Database Standard Edition One is designed for small businesses or departmental
systems. It is simple to install and configure, and offers the proven
performance, reliability and security of Oracle Database at a low entry cost.

Some more explanation of licensing can be found at Oracle
store licensing
. How much does support cost? Once you "Add to cart,"
the next page contains a support option list of values. Product support and
software updates, using the EE version of Application Server as an example
again, costs another $4400. The good news is that (as of the time of this
writing) there is a 10% discount being applied.

In Closing

As you can see, there is a lot going on behind the scenes
with Oracle administration. In the next article, we will look at some of the
benefits of being in the Partner program and ways you can reduce the cost of
Oracle products for your customers.

»


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Steve Callan

Steve Callan
Steve Callan
Steve is an Oracle DBA (OCP 8i and 9i)/developer working in Denver. His Oracle experience also includes Forms and Reports, Oracle9iAS and Oracle9iDS.

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