Dean Bolton, Co-Founder and Chief Architect of VLSS, a firm operating in the Oracle and VMware technology space for over 13 years, was approached by VMware regarding the predicament faced by their customers when trying to license Oracle on VMware. Oracle audits a licensee and charges exorbitant licensing fees if the latter lacks licensing inventory, misunderstands metrics, and undertakes indiscriminate virtualization among other reasons. “It is not a matter of ‘if' an Oracle licensee gets an audit but ‘when,'" remarks Bolton. With 18 years of experience in technologies offered by these two tech giants, Bolton was quick to identify and prioritize VMware customers’ prime concern—to buy licenses from Oracle and fully utilize them, without worries about unknown liabilities down the road. To address this predicament, Bolton founded LicenseFortress in 2016, that offers the industry’s first and only Oracle license management and audit protection service with a financial guarantee (indemnification) and an expert licensing team—all at a low, flat subscription. The company’s clients range from Fortune 100 companies to government agencies and SMBs. In the following conversation with Bolton, he shares interesting insights into the predicaments faced by enterprises in the SAM space today and how LicenseFortress tackles them.
What are the trends in the SAM space and how does LicenseFortress align with them?
The biggest trend in the industry is that many contemporary SAM tools for Oracle software are very reactive, needing periodic checks—monthly, quarterly, annually. They do not provide real-time feedback to customers regarding the licensing status of their software systems, thereby hindering effective decision-making. Many of these tools were not allowing their customers to leverage their contractual rights and make the best use of the licenses they had purchased from Oracle. Also, with the Oracle Java SE 8 public updates no longer available for "Business, Commercial or Production use" without a commercial license, since January 2019, we have a lot of customers contacting us for help. Our SAM tool LicenseFortress Discovery, alongside LicenseFortress Standard and LicenseFortress Premier subscriptions, addresses such a scenario in the industry.
Would you elaborate on your SAM solutions concerning their core functionalities?
We understand the lack of clarity around Oracle licensing and compliance in today's virtualized and cloud environments that impedes Oracle licensees’ compliance with Oracle license agreements. To address this, our Oracle, VMware and Amazon experts have built LicenseFortress Discovery solution for customers running Oracle workloads physically, virtually or in the cloud. The product is fully integrated with many virtual and cloud environments, including VMware vSphere, Oracle VM Server for x86 and SPARC, and Amazon EC2 and RDS. LicenseFortress Discovery offers the key features of auto-discovery and real-time alerting with over 300 different checks to ensure Oracle software license compliance, VMware certification, monitoring of hybrid environments, a 60-day free trial, and more. Customers can choose from three subscription levels Discovery, Standard, and Premier.
The LicenseFortress Premier subscription includes all the Standard subscription features with the added security of our financial guarantee and legal representation. If the software deployment that we recommend a customer is found non-compliant in court, we pay for any additional licenses required by the customer’s environment. We can also leverage our partnerships with law firms in the U.S., the European Union, and around the world to support our customers in the courts, without surprise charges.
Our customers can buy Oracle software, make sure it's deployed in an effective manner and serve their clients without having to worry about any of the complexities around licensing
Moreover, with our LicenseFortress Academy, we help the day-to-day operational work of database administrators, virtual administrators, system administrators, and developers. We help them understand how their actions impact company compliance and provide them training to prevent any issues down the road.
Could you share a case study wherein you successfully resolved a client’s Oracle license management issue?
A digital media firm was running Oracle databases on their VMware environment to enhance accessibility. They also wanted to virtualize their Oracle business intelligence solution, which they were running in a physical environment due to licensing reasons. The firm contacted the tech giant regarding this issue, only to be informed of the need to buy licensing worth 16-17 million dollars. However, upon partnering with us, we understood their requirements and instructed them on how to virtualize their Oracle business intelligence solution without spending on any more licensing.
What differentiates LicenseFortress from its competitors in the industry?
Many licensing consultants review organizations' IT architecture and project plan to minimize their initial license purchase, ensuring their clients buy only what they need when they need it. However, we surpass their offerings with our technical staff that analyzes Oracle audit results and aids in negotiations. We also have the expertise to re-architect a solution or implement restrictions to prevent license compliance issues. Everyone at LicenseFortress carries at least one certified professional accreditation, the continuation of which is being encouraged. We have both Oracle Certified Masters (OCM) and VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX) on staff.
How do you perceive the road ahead for the company?
In terms of expansion, we are supporting other products provided by tech giants such as IBM, SAP, Microsoft, RedHat, and more. We’re also spreading awareness about our offerings and eliminating confusion around Oracle licensing to enhance the licensees’ capabilities. We are proactive with our customers helping them prevent issues in the future with our set of best practices around licensing compliance.