Managing Oracle Database Feature Usage

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Oracle Database Enterprise Edition comes bundled with a wide variety of options and management packs. The ability to track the usage of individual product features is built in to the database engine. This internal accounting is very fine-grained.  The usage data is typically updated once per week by an internal, hidden job. The feature usage view is the same one that Oracle would refer to in the case of a formal audit of its products at a customer site.

While you can disable some of these options and management packs to avoid inadvertent use, most of them are installed and ready to use when you install Oracle Database Enterprise Edition. They are like ripe fruit just waiting to be plucked! It is important to be aware of the features you and your team are using to potentially avoid costly license fees.

Disable Diagnostics and Tuning Packs

If you have no entitlement for Diagnostic Pack or Tuning Pack, you can disable those features on individual databases with the control_management_pack_access parameter. Reset the parameter to a value of “NONE” to disable the Diagnostics Pack and Tuning Pack features and avoid potential usage.

Here is the command you can use to set the parameter:

ALTER SYSTEM SET control_management_pack_access=NONE scope=both;

If you don’t include “scope=both” then it will revert to the original value once the database is restarted.   

Our “Oracle Enterprise Manager” blog article also discusses how to do disable Packs using the OEM console.

Feature Usage Statistics

DBA_FEATURE_USAGE_STATISTICS is the name of a Static Data Dictionary View. This view combines detailed usage from dozens of tables that track features of the various options and packs available to Oracle database users. 

Use this SQL query to list the database features and descriptions in alphabetical order:

SELECT name, description FROM dba_feature_usage_statistics

ORDER BY name;

You can gain more insight by using a script provided by Oracle. The options_packs_usage_statistics.sql enables you to check feature usage, Database option usage and Oracle management pack usage on your database. This script lists, in two distinct sections:

  • Oracle Database option and Oracle management pack usage
  • Features used by each option and management pack

Log into My Oracle Support and search for Document ID 1317265.1 to download this script.

You can run this script against any of your database instances to get a detailed usage listing.  Interpreting the results of this output can be tricky. 

  • Does a past usage from five years ago mean that you have a license liability? 
  • Is your RMAN repository being used for any other purposes?
  • “Snapshot Standby” is an included feature, but “Far Sync Standby” requires the Active Data Guard Option.
  • “Real Application Security” is included but “Real Application Testing” and “Oracle Label Security” are extra cost Options

If your database environment is simple or it is tightly controlled, you may not find any surprises when you review the usage statistics results. It is a very good idea to review your usage periodically so you can confirm you are only using options and management packs that match your existing entitlements. Actively monitoring your feature usage can help you to avoid costly license fees.

Conclusion

When using the Oracle database you must be aware of the options and packs in use in your environment.  This article provides some basic tools to get you started thinking about your Oracle licensing footprint. Gaining insight into this footprint can help you feel better prepared for the dreaded audit notice.

Understanding Oracle licensing can be complex. It goes beyond just counting cores and users. House of Brick can help you understand your Oracle licensing footprint and provide services for maintaining your license compliance on an ongoing basis. Contact the House of Brick License Management team at https://houseofbrick.com/solutions/license-management/

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