This is my fourth post on the subject of ATG Licensing. You may want to read the previous three posts: Rant About Core-Based Licensing, Why ATG’s Core Based Licensing is Stupid, and the latest The True Cost of ATG’s Core Based Licensing.

Oracle bought ATG at the end of last year. ATG 10 was released in a similar timeframe. ATG 10 introduced some great licensing changes. In ATG 9 and earlier, ATG’s License Manager enforced the license limitations encoded in the license files provided by ATG by checking the number of “CPUs” reported by the OS. Unfortunately this number captured cores + HyperThreaded logical cores, and as I talked about in earlier posts, this number increased in each new generation of chip causing issues with license costs. The typical solution was to disable HyperThreading in the BIOS and/or disable CPU cores within the OS in order to limit the server CPU resources to match the licenses. I’m not sure there was ever written policy around this, but it was common practice and many sales reps and sales engineers explicitly okayed this approach during pre-sales architecture planning.

In ATG 10 the licensing stopped being technically enforced via the License Manager and changed over to be enforced by audits. This means that HyperThreading is no longer a 2x penalty. This is the upside! It also means you can setup servers, or change IPs, without waiting for ATG to issue you new license files all the time. This is also handy.

Now comes the bad news.

I’ve just found out that Oracle’s (new) policy is that disabling cores is not permitted to meet license limits. That means you need valid ATG licenses for every physical core installed in any of your ATG servers. They’ve also dropped the “Staging” licenses which means you now need full price production licenses for your Staging environment hardware as well.

The current generation of Intel server CPUs are Westmere 56XX and they come in quad-core models on the low end, and hex-core models on the high end. The previous generation of CPUs are Nehalem 55XX and they come only in quad-core models. The generation before that were 54XXs and they also came only in quad-core models. The generation before that were 53XX, again quad-core only.

What this means is that the smallest ATG setup is basically two production app servers for failover/redundancy with single quad-core CPUs, and one staging app server, also with a single quad-core CPU. That’s 12 cores of ATG Commerce you need licensing for (or 6 ATG Commerce “processor” licenses – which is how they sell it now: Intel chips have a .5 core multiplier to convert from “processors” to physical cores). You also need ATG Search licenses. Given how most ATG 10 sites are massively reliant on Search for facets and site navigation you really need two production Search servers, again for failover/redundancy, and another Search box in stage. You *can* run Stage Search on the Stage App server, but you still need Search licenses for it. So again, you’re looking at 12 cores/6 “processors” minimum. Plus BCC and CSC Seats, etc…

So right now, anything less than 6 “Processors” of ATG Commerce and 6 “Processors” of ATG Search, isn’t actually deployable into a production + stage setup. Unfortunately some in-flight sales proposal out there right now are smaller than that. If you’re involved in an ATG deal with fewer licenses make sure you carefully go over your architecture and deployment plan with your ATG Sales rep and your hosting team.

Here’s another fun fact: when upgrading from a previous version to ATG 10, your currently licensed cores will get you ATG 10 “Processor” credits based on the same core multiplier. I’m not sure if your staging licenses will help at all, but if they do, they won’t count 100% or even close. What this means is that all of the MANY MANY customers out there who were sold MC4 bundles (4 cores of ATG Commerce + Search + Merch + CSC, etc…) have a truly terrible upgrade path. Those 4 cores of Commerce will get them 2 “Processors” of Commerce. Leaving them 4 “processors” short. Ditto for Search. That’s well over $1,000,000 to upgrade, although you’ll probably get some discounts from your sales rep.

That’s right: after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in Support fees, entitling you to “free upgrades”, you’ll have to pony up somewhere in the six-figures range to upgrade to ATG 10.

Oracle’s Enterprise licensing practices do not apply well to standard small/medium deal ATG licensing levels and certainly not to existing ATG customers.