Past, present and future of Oracle Databases Standard Edition

The Oracle Databases Standard Edition, were, are and will be an option to take into account due to their reduced license costs. The fact of counting licenses by sockets instead of cores, the reduced price of the licenses and  have a few minimums to license compared with the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition have propitiated their use specially in little and medium customers.

At functional level, the main difference between the BBDD Standard Edition and the Enterprise Edition is the impossibility of using:

  • Advanced performance functionalities: parallelism, partitioning, in memory
  • High availability (like RAC* o “online rebuild/redefinition”)
  • Disaster Recovery functionalities: Standby, Flashback
  • Diagnostic and Monitoring: Automatic Workload Repository, Tunning Advisors
  • Advanced security functions, fine auditing and control

(*) RAC could be used in certain versions in a “limited” way with Standard Edition


The Oracle Databases Standard Edition are not eligible on critical projects o projects whit big performance constraints for the lack of the advanced mentioned functions, but it was done in less demanding projects or in SMEs that could obtain the reliability and functionality of the Oracle Database at a very low cost. This version has led to a large extent the popularity of the Oracle DB in small and medium enterprises.


If we look back we find that in the first versions of the Oracle database manager there were no “different versions” available and therefore there were no separate installation / use options. In the Oracle7 version it was already possible to select, during the installation, specific functionalities that were licensed separately (Oracle ConText, Oracle Parallel Server, Oracle7 Spatial Data). In June of 1997, together with the appearance of version 8.0.3 of the BBDD, we were able to choose during the installation the Oracle 8 Server Enterprise Edition with all the high availability and performance functionalities available (some with separate licensing) or the BBDD Oracle 8 Server, which we could use in machines with a maximum of four sockets, which did not have all the high availability / performance functionalities and did not allow to use the separate licensing options. At the price level Oracle 8 Server licenses cost less than half that of Oracle 8 Server Enterprise Edition.


With the 9i we now call Oracle Standard Edition to the basic version and Oracle Enterprise Edition to the version with more functionalities, and a new version appeared, the Standard Edition One, identical in functionalities to the Standard Edition but limited to machines with a maximum of 2 sockets The price of the Standard Edition One licenses was less than half that of the Standard Editions and it was possible to license a machine for less than a thousand dollars.


With the 10g version of the BBDD, and with the aim of popularizing the Real Application Clusters (RAC) technology, Oracle included this functionality without cost in the Standard Edition. In the Standard Edition One it was not possible to use RAC and in the Enterprise Edition it had to be licensed separately.


At this point, with the BBDD 11.2 we could have a really powerful BBDD with a very low licensing cost. The typical example would be a Oracle BBDD 11gR2 RAC Standard Edition running on two nodes with large amounts of memory and with two multicore sockets each, and a state-of-the-art storage system. It should be noted that we still did not have the advanced functions discussed above, except for RAC.


Already in version 12c, and with a view to enhance the use of “Oracle Cloud” by small and medium customers, changes were announced in the “Standard” versions. The arrival of the patch introduced changes in the licensing (in this case the change was not made when jumping from version, but with the “terminal patch” of version 12.1): Oracle stopped licensing Standard Edition and Standard Edition One, Forcing anyone who would like to use this patch or higher DB versions to switch to Standard Edition 2 licenses. These new licenses, at cost level, were equated to the Standard Edition and, in fact, the change from Standard Edition licenses to Standard Edition 2 It has no cost to the client.


Comparing functional level Standard Edition and Standard Edition 2, the latter has the following limitations (more details in the post Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 (SE2) – Licensing and conversion from SE / SE1):

  • The machines cannot have more than two sockets (before four).
  • The minimum number of users to license is ten per server (before, five per company).
  • If we use RAC, the total number of sockets cannot be more than two, that is, two servers of one socket or two servers of two sockets with one occupied and one free.
  • The Standard Edition 2 DBs of version 12.2 or higher have an internal limitation by BBDD that prevents more than 16 threads from being used concurrently, regardless of whether there is free CPU power in the machine. If RAC is used then the limitation is 8 threads in each of the 2 servers (16 in total, as in the case of a standalone DB).


The new version has some new features and allows the use of the “multitenant” technology with only one PDB (the so-called “mono-tenant”).

With the arrival of 19.3 (the equivalent of 12.3 of the old nomenclature), the Standard Edition 2 licenses lose the RAC option, so the RAC Standard Edition BBDDs that you want to update to 19.3 (final version of the 12c in the old nomenclature) must first be transferred to mono-instance or Enterprise Edition, acquiring in the latter case the relevant licenses.
This last modification of the licensing surely does not mean the end of the use of Standard Edition although, together with the changes in the version, they will reduce its use in a remarkable way. For small and medium-sized companies (which do not require high power nor do they consider the use of RAC), it is still an acceptable option both on-premise and in the cloud. Those companies that need to switch to Enterprise Edition (from Standard Edition, Standard Edition One or Standard Edition 2) should evaluate moving their databases to Oracle Cloud in order not to incur high licensing costs.

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