By Franck Pachot

The Oracle Database Appliance is really interresting for small enterprises. It’s very good hardware for very good price. It’s capacity on demand licensing for Enteprise Edition. But small companies usually go to Standard Edition for cost reasons.

Then does it make sense to propose only Enterprise Edition to the small companies that are interrested by ODA?

Is ODA for small companies?

My answer is definitely yes. Small companies can’t buy specific storage or servers, maintain their skills on storage, network, operating system, database system, etc. Imagine a small company where 3 people in IT team manage everything from infrastructure to software. Imagine a medium company that has virtualized everything on VMware, They store everything on Netapp, or has all Microsoft Windows servers with MS SQL database. And they buy a new software that need to store its data on Oracle Database. They need to install new hardware because of the soft partitioning licencing rules. They need to get new skills in storage, linux, oracle, …

ODA is the solution for them. They buy one box and don’t need to have specialized skills on any technology that is inside. Even RAC is made easy there. In one box, they have very good performance (direct attached disks, flash) and good availability (everything is redundant). With 2 boxes they have data and service high availability and can switch to another site in a few minutes.

So why does it come with Enterprise Edition

Yes, this is the rule: when you buy an ODA you already have DBEE – Database Enterprise Edition – installed. And that means that you need to have Oracle Database Enterprise Edition licenses.
Usually small and medium enterprises go to Standard Edition because of the price. The big difference is that Standard Edition is licences by sockets and you can minimize that on servers with only one socket (empty sockets don’t count). The problem with Enterprise Edition is that it is licenced by cores and you can’t minimize that. Modern servers have 8 or 12 cores at minimum. And that’s the problem for SME. The have few users on their database, don’t use more than 1 or 2 cores but they need to licence higher number of cores. For example, with a 8 cores Intel server they have to buy 4 proc licences, or 100 NUP.
Then why Oracle does not offer ODA with Standard Edition installed instead of Enterprise Edition? Because the ODA can run on Oracle VM, and Oracle VM can be setup as a recognized hard partitioning solution. You have to buy DBEE licences, but you don’t have to buy them to cover all availables cores.
The minimal Enterprise Edition licences you must buy with an ODA is 1 proc or 25 NUP. This covers 2 Intel cores (core factor 0.5) and 2 cores per server is the minimum you have to activate for the ‘oda base’ which is the VM where Oracle Database Enterprise Edition is installed. You will tell me that there are two servers, but you don’t have to licence both servers if you are doing RAC One Node and you don’t activate the second node more than 10 times a year.

Conclusion: the minimal required licences is 1 proc or 25 NUP of DBEE+RAC One Node, or 2 proc or 50 NUP of DBEE alone.

It may appear strange to be forced to buy EE licences even if you need only few of them. Standard Edition is 3 times cheaper and let you use all the server CPU power. But when you look at the ODA exclusive features, it can make sense. ODA is very automated (installation, database creation, patching) and Enteprise Edition is also very automated (DataGuard protection, flashback capabilities, parallel query, partitioning, online operations, compression, adaptive optimization,… ). When you go to Standard Edition, you have to do a lot of things manually. So, from Oracle point of view, it doesn’t make sense to want ODA features without Enterprise Edition.

So, what about Standard Edition?

But once you have licences those minimums, you have plenty of Intel cores that can be used for everything else than the ‘oda base’. You can create any VM you want, put your application servers on it. But if you have some database which does not need Enterprise Edition features, you can also install Oracle Database Standard Edition on them. You have less features. You have lower i/o performance (because storage is exported from the ‘oda base’ ACFS rather than direct attachment to disk) but you have plenty of RAM and plenty of CPU.

So this is the idea for SME:

  • licence the minimum you need on Enterprise Edition in the ODA Base
  • put everything else on Standard Edition in Oracle VM
  • And remember that the Standard Edition can see the Enterprise Edition data through database links.

You can do a lot in Standard Edition. It’s really a very good product for affordable price. Maybe you will need more development and/or tuning effort, but you can achieve a lot. Probably not all from a 3 people IT team, but the administration of your ODA with Standard Edition can be outsourced. The above is the point of view from Oracle software and hardware vendor. Here is the customer and consultant point of view where the additional administration and developement required by Standard Edition can be done through consulting and SLA…

A lot of information about Standard Edition is on Ann Sjökvist blog.
Even if DataGuard is the best protection I know, a good high availability is still possible with Dbvisit standby
I use Statspack and Orachrome Lighty when there is no diagnostic pack por performance analysis.


My opinion is that it totally makes sense for Oracle to sell ODA with Enterprise Edition. The cost is controlled by the Capacity on Demand, and ODA leverages a lot of features that comes with EE. Remember, the idea is to have a system ready to plug and easy to maintain, so it makes sense to ignore Standard Edition which may involve more developement for performance, more skills for recovery features, etc.

But you still have the possibility to use Standard Edition, spend some time for specific workarounds, additional setup, etc. And consultants are there to help you for that 😉 Note that, in current ODA versions, the setup of DataGuard protection does not come out-of-the-box, so additional setup is required even with EE.

But test it. The amazing I/O performances of ODA are coming from the direct-attached disks. Even in OVM, the performance is still there because the ODA Base still access directly to the disks through ASM. When you install the SE in a guest VM, then the storage is exposed by the ODA Base through ACFS. So I/O performance may be lower.

The full power of the virtualized ODA is the full features of Enterprise Edition running on few cores, for the database(s) that need those features, and the full CPU power with the limited features of Standard Edition for the remaining databases.

And remember, a web application must licence the database with processor licences, so better reduce the cost and put it in a Standard Edition. But a database link is only considered as one NUP. So it you have a few tables that need bitmap indexes you can put them in the ODA Base Enterprise Edition licenced in NUP.
Afterall, this is exactly the idea of Capacity on Demand: pay only for what you need. And you can apply that for hardware resources as well as for software features.

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Oracle Team