oracle database licensing

Does Oracle Require a License For a Development Database?

Oracle’s licensing policy for development databases requires a license, similar to production environments.

Key points include:

  • No differentiation in licensing policy for production, development, or non-production environments.
  • Development databases must have full licensing, as they can transition to production or non-production use.

1. Oracle Licensing: A Brief Overview

Oracle has a comprehensive, albeit complex, licensing structure. The structure varies based on the type of usage (production, development, or non-production), the type of software (Oracle Database, Oracle Middleware, Oracle Applications), and the licensing model (Processor or Named User Plus).

2. Oracle Licensing for Development Databases

Oracle licensing rules state licenses are required for all environments where Oracle programs are installed and/or running, including development databases.

You must have an appropriate license to use Oracle’s software in a development environment.

Oracle’s licensing policy doesn’t differentiate between the different environments. You must have a license if you use an Oracle program in a production, development, or non-production environment.

This ensures that every instance of the software is used within the terms and conditions of Oracle’s licensing agreement.

3. Why Do Development Databases Need to be Fully Licensed?

The requirement for full licensing for development databases arises because these environments can quickly become production or non-production environments.

For example, development databases can often be used for functionality testing, load testing, or failover.

In many businesses, development environments are an integral part of the operations, directly contributing to the delivery of production systems.

Therefore, Oracle requires that they be licensed in the same way as production environments.

4. Understanding Oracle’s Licensing Models

Oracle typically offers two licensing models – Processor and Named User Plus.

The Processor model allows for unlimited usage by anyone from any device, while the Named User Plus model restricts usage to a specific number of identified users.

5. How to License Development Databases

Now that we understand the need to license development databases let’s examine how to do it most cost-effectively. Strategic choices are essential when licensing your development databases to balance cost, flexibility, and compliance.

If possible, it is generally recommended that development environments opt for the Named User Plus (NUP) license model.

This model allows you to license your software based on the actual number of users, which can often result in a significant cost reduction compared to the Processor license model.

However, there is a caveat when using the NUP model. Oracle imposes a user minimum for each processor on which your software is installed.

This minimum is typically 25 Named User Plus licenses per processor, though this can vary depending on the specific Oracle product.

This means that even if you have fewer than 25 developers working on a specific database, you will still need to purchase 25 Named User Plus licenses to meet Oracle’s minimum requirement if the database is installed on a processor.

It’s important to consider this when choosing between the Processor and Named User Plus license models.

Remember, the key to successful Oracle licensing is understanding your specific needs and choosing the model that best fits those needs.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.