Thursday, October 02, 2008

Virtual XE not just a cloud dream

I know I'm not blogging much. I’ve got a new job, and my boss reads my blog :)
Hi Boss !

But one thing popped out at me from the streams of OOW output, and it hasn't generated much comment in the Oracle blogosphere.

The Oracle XE license states that it is limited to one instance per server. It wasn't specific in how that related to a physical box running multiple virtual servers. If the ‘server’ referred to the physical machine, then this would preclude having different XE instances on multiple virtual servers on the same physical box.

OOW revealed Oracle's new Amazon cloud offering. Amazon machines are, as far as I am aware, just another virtual box. Of course there is hardware somewhere, but if you have a VM (or AMI) on Amazon, you don’t know what else is happening on that physical box (or even where it is). That’s the whole point of a cloud.

This revelation clarified the virtual server licensing for Standard and Enterprise Editions, but there are also explicit references to XE.
Slide 8 here refers to XE as one of the cloud building blocks and continues to discuss and walkthrough its deployment on EC2.
Similarly there is another Amazon / XE walkthrough on the oracle site.
And finally a prebuilt XE AMI from William Hodak, a Senior Product Manager from Oracle.

In my opinion, this settles the virtual server aspect of the XE license. Oracle are positively encouraging people to run XE on a virtual machine irrespective of whether this actually results in multiple XE versions running on the same physical box. Standard caveats apply. I'm not a lawyer, this is my opinion, jurisdiction may play a part....

The OTN license also permits distribution of XE, subject to the recipient agreeing to same terms and conditions. So a hosting service can supply XE on a virtual host as long as the customer accepts the XE license.

Technically, there may be a question about a hosting service offering only Apex workspaces in a XE database. The license does refer to use for ‘internal data processing’. In practice, if a hosting company can offer a full XE environment, I can’t see how Oracle could argue that partial access to an XE database is a breach….at least as long as the customer has agreed to the XE licence.

Of course if you try to run your MyFace-killing social app over a couple of hundred XE instances on Amazon, I wouldn’t be surprised if Oracle come knocking at your door extolling the benefits of SE or EE. But frankly, if you are getting that big, then you should be upgrading anyway, for the patches at least.

One more thing. This covers hosting, where the XE licensee doesn't have control of physical box. They may have a stricter interpretation if you are loading up VMs on your own hardware.

PS. If you are after an Oracle XE hosted solution, and can read German, look here

There are other Apex hosting services, including MaxApex where I've been trying some charts for my son's performance at Little Athletics. Yes, I'm a geek.