VMware has put a stake in the ground with respect to Oracle licensing of VMware VMs running Oracle. The gist of this statement regarding certification, support, and licensing is that DRS host affinity rules, combined with vCenter audit trails showing where VMs have actually run, are sufficient for Oracle licensing purposes. The summary of the document states:
DRS Host Affinity rules can be used to run Oracle on a subset of the hosts within a cluster. In many cases, customers can use vSphere to achieve substantial licensing savings.
Concerning vCenter VMotion logging, the document states:
With VMware vMotion and DRS technologies you can migrate a live virtual machine running Oracle software from Host A to Host B for server maintenance or load-balancing purposes. In such instances you should ensure that the migration occurs between fully licensed hosts by using vSphere capabilities such as DRS Host Affinity—that is, both Host A and Host B must be fully licensed hosts from an Oracle licensing perspective (as described in section 2.1). VMware vCenter™ Server generates several migration log files maintained at /var/log/vmware/hostd.log and /vmfs/volumes/datastore/vm/vmware.log that can be leveraged to track and record such virtual machine movements across hosts for compliance purposes. Additionally, VMware provides an extensive open API that allows compliance tools to generate user-friendly reports using this data. In particular, VMware vCenter Configuration Manager provides host-level change-tracking mechanisms that enable you to record virtual machine movements across hosts. Since this hostlevel change tracking leverages an open API, third-party configuration-management solutions may also provide some of this functionality for VMware environments.
VMware's document also contains a discussion concerning CPU affinity. In that statement, VMware calls Oracle's bluff with respect to the hard partitioning statements concerning OVM on Oracle's website. Again, VMware's document states:
VMware enables you to pin a virtual machine to certain CPUs inside the host (using CPU pinning or CPU affinity). We believe this technology is every bit as robust and reliable as the “hard partitioned” technologies to which Oracle accords preferential subsystem pricing, and should enable customers to license only a subset of the host capacity. Unfortunately Oracle does not recognize this approach as a valid hard partitioning for its licensing mechanism. So today customers must license all the CPUs in the host and follow the “fully licensed host” approach for VMware environments.
The net-net is that VMware is endorsing the view that fully-licensed servers are required, but that Oracle servers can be part of a larger DRS / HA cluster environment, so long as VMs running Oracle are strictly limited to licensed servers, and this can be proven using audit trail documentation.
I cannot overstate the importance of this in terms of Oracle licensing. This is a sea change, folks.