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Oracle’s Verified SAM (VSAM) Partner Program Explained

Listen to “Oracle's Verified SAM (VSAM) Partner Program Explained" on Spreaker.

Host: Kris Johnson, Anglepoint Chief Product Officer

Speakers: Jeremy Sayler, Director of Anglepoint’s Oracle Licensing Practice

In this episode of The ITAM Executive, Kris Johnson and Jeremy Sayler discuss Oracle’s new Verified SAM Partner Program.

The Verified SAM Partner Program was introduced at Oracle CloudWorld in October 2022 and officially went live in June 2023, Anglepoint was verified in Q1 2024. Clients in the program must work with a verified SAM managed services provider to deliver Oracle an annual baseline report of license entitlements and consumption.

Benefits of being in the program include audit reprieve, generous remediation options, and Oracle license optimization.

Anglepoint is happy to be a Verified Partner in the program.

By listening to this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • The details of Oracle’s new Verified SAM Partner Program
  • The benefits of the program, including audit reprieve
  • The qualifications to join the program
  • How Anglepoint became a Verified Partner
  • And more

Episode Transcript

Kris Johnson:

Hi, welcome to another episode of the ITAM Executive Podcast. I’m Kris Johnson, Chief Product Officer at Anglepoint. With me is Jeremy Saylor, our Service Product Owner for Oracle License Management Services. We’re here to talk today about the Oracle VSAM program. There are a lot of questions about this program, and rightly so. This has been quite some time in the making, and you’ve been involved with it at various steps over the course of about a year or so, correct?

Jeremy Sayler:

A little more than a year. Yeah, it has been a process even prior to me being part of it. Yes, it’s been a journey.

Kris Johnson:

Let’s dive into the details. What should our audience know about this program? There are other similar programs, like the IBM IASP program, that people might naturally compare it to, but let’s focus on what this program is about and how best to understand it.

Jeremy Sayler:

Sure. Great point on the IBM program. There are some similarities and some differences. The Oracle program, like IBM, focuses on software asset management. This is not an audit program; Oracle has made that very clear. If we do an assessment and find issues, Oracle gives clients in this program the ability to remediate those issues.

And again, it’s not an audit. You don’t immediately pay the vendor for any deficits found. This fits very nicely into Anglepoint’s managed services for our product lines, especially Oracle. We conduct license assessments regularly, providing clients with feedback on how to optimize their environments. As part of that, Oracle grants an audit reprieve. That’s probably VSAM in a nutshell.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah. And like you said, this has been in various stages of development, and so there’s been a lot of back and forth with Oracle about what to include and exclude as part of the program. I think it’s been a journey for them from many different standpoints. This reflects a continual shift we’ve been seeing in the marketplace for some time, where publishers are wanting to help their clients manage their licensing estate as opposed to just running compliance and audit programs that aren’t the most customer-friendly.

There’s a shift towards more customer enablement programs, aligning clients with qualified service providers that Oracle has verified. This is about looking at it from a longer-term standpoint to keep their customers properly licensed, but also treating them with dignity and helping them manage these things going forward.

So, it’s obviously an optional program. Can any Oracle customer opt into it? Is there anything they need to do to qualify to participate in the program?

Jeremy Sayler:

Yes, they need to work with a verified SAM partner, someone who has gone through the qualification process with Oracle and demonstrated that they understand and can interpret Oracle license policies and contractual obligations. Any Oracle licensee can opt in, but they need to be working with a verified SAM partner.

Kris Johnson:

Okay, and by “working with," you mean they need to be providing a managed service to that client to manage their Oracle licenses?

Jeremy Sayler:

Yes. From an Anglepoint perspective, we recommend that managed service where you’re continually working on optimizing and remediating. Oracle will grant an audit reprieve if you do an assessment, but there is a limit—it’s a 12-month audit reprieve. After that period, you’ll need to engage with your VSAM partner again to re-enable that audit reprieve.

Kris Johnson:

Okay. And as of this recording, I think there are six VSAM partners. Anglepoint was certified back in Q1 of this year. What is required of the customer? Do they have to submit a report to Oracle as part of the review?

Jeremy Sayler:

That’s a great point. Oracle has said that no reporting is required. Oracle may request some feedback from the VSAM partner or client to validate information, but they trust the assessment process of the VSAM partner. You do not have to give Oracle any data to be part of the program or to be granted that audit reprieve.

One other important point: there are only three product pillars that are part of this program today—Database, Middleware, and E-Business Suite. We’re looking to see if Oracle will enhance that in the future, maybe adding Java or cloud services. But today, it’s Database, Middleware, and EBS.

Kris Johnson:

Okay, so the audit reprieve would only extend to those product families?

Jeremy Sayler:

That’s correct. The audit reprieve applies to those three product families and the products that the client wishes to enroll. You can enroll in one, or all three; it’s your choice.

Kris Johnson:

Okay, so if you opt into the VSAM program, and Database and Middleware are covered, as well as E-Business Suite, but you can still get audited for Java.

Jeremy Sayler:

Correct.

Kris Johnson:

I think a lot of our listeners will be asking questions like, what’s in this for Oracle? Why would they be doing this?

Jeremy Sayler:

That’s a great question. I think Oracle has seen the IBM program and the success IBM is having with it. They’re getting better relationships with their clients and a better understanding of their licensing. When clients understand the correct way to license their products, it benefits everyone. You have a happy client who understands how to license their products, a partner helping the client do that, and Oracle can trust that the client is properly licensed without needing to be directly involved.

So why are they doing this? I think Oracle’s end goal is to have properly licensed clients. The rules are fairly clear. There might be some disputes over a few policies, like the ones for Java or VMware, but generally, everyone has a good understanding of Oracle’s expectations and what’s in and out of bounds in terms of most licensing concepts.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah, it’s interesting. Oracle, of course, is a huge organization. When you say “Oracle this" or “Oracle that," sometimes we’re referring to Oracle salespeople, and other times to Oracle compliance people. Beyond their compliance program, Oracle’s compliance management is highly incentivized to audit and generate revenue through audit findings. But if you move up a few levels of leadership, what does the global sales function want? What does the CEO desire?

In the case of IBM, the IASP program came about because executives and decision-makers saw a long-term benefit they wanted to drive to their clients. They want customers to have a good experience, and sometimes a heavy-handed audit or compliance function can be antithetical to their overarching goals at a higher level.

Jeremy Sayler:

Yeah, I agree. Near-term revenue is always of interest, and sales are geared towards revenue, but at the upper level, client retention and moving clients to the cloud have been Oracle’s focus for many years. Client retention is a big aspect of this. They want a happy client who wants to stay on Oracle products.

Kris Johnson:

So kudos to Oracle leadership and IBM leadership for seeing this longer-term customer satisfaction play as opposed to just short-term revenue through audits. So, there are six VSAM partners. What does it take for an organization to become VSAM certified? What did it take for Anglepoint?

Jeremy Sayler:

It’s a pretty rigorous process. There is training and certification to demonstrate licensing knowledge, focusing on those three pillars: Database, Middleware, and EBS. You need to have licensed entities, and Anglepoint is a licensed entity in various regions. You have to have a presence and be an incorporated entity in those regions to provide the service there. There’s a final exam where you demonstrate your ability to license Oracle appropriately through a case study. It’s a very rigorous final exam.

We went through this process for a few months, checked all the boxes, and became a verified SAM partner. We’re very happy that all of our team members can submit an ELP and demonstrate that license assessment, positioning our clients to get the audit reprieve from Oracle.

Kris Johnson:

How does this relate to the Oracle verified tools? If a VSAM partner or a customer is having services from a VSAM partner and opting into the program, do they have to use some combination of Oracle verified tools?

Jeremy Sayler:

Great question, and yes. Any of the SAM tools verified on Oracle’s GLAS website are eligible to be used to demonstrate license consumption. Again, reporting is not required by Oracle, but we need to use a tool that provides quality results. The other option would be the Oracle audit collection scripts if a client does not have a tool, but the preference is that we use SAM tooling so clients are self-sufficient and able to manage those products.

Kris Johnson:

And we can provide a link to the Oracle verified tool site from Oracle.com. There are different levels of certifications certified by different products—Database, Middleware, E-Business Suite, Java, and others. So not all tools are created equal or have proven their capabilities to Oracle. But beyond those commercial offerings, which are usually a good investment if implemented properly, there’s also an option for using the…

Jeremy Sayler:

Yes, with Oracle’s approval, we could use the Oracle collection scripts. This might be for clients who haven’t yet invested in SAM tooling. SAM tools are obviously the preference. Now, those scripts only cover a subset of products themselves.

Kris Johnson:

That’s correct. They happen to align with those three pillars: Database, Middleware, and EBS.

Jeremy Sayler:

The SAM tools may cover more. For example, SAM tools typically do a good job with Java, especially the ones certified by Oracle. If you see that checkbox, then Java is certified by Oracle.

Kris Johnson:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that certification from Oracle just certifies that those tools can report on the data elements necessary for what the GLAS team requests.

Jeremy Sayler:

Correct. The certification means that Oracle will accept that output as part of their audit program. If you’re going through an audit on Java and it has that Java checkbox, Oracle will accept that output for their analysis process.

Kris Johnson:

Which doesn’t necessarily mean they will all report the same consumption calculations. It just means they can report on the proper data fields. So, just because they’re Oracle Verified doesn’t mean they are all the same.

Jeremy Sayler:

Obviously, with SAM tools, we’ve got agent-based and agentless options. Whether we are connected to all the systems is going to come into play as well.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah, and some will have different blind spots. Some might be able to detect whether options and packs are actually used versus just installed, for example. So, just be aware that there are differences. Just because you see a checkmark for Oracle Verified doesn’t mean they all do the same thing, in the same way, or with the same level of accuracy.

Jeremy Sayler:

Correct.

Kris Johnson:

What else should our audience know about the Oracle VSAM program?

Jeremy Sayler:

I think there’s probably a level of skepticism in the marketplace. Oracle has been known as one of the more aggressive audit firms, so I understand the skepticism. However, over the past year or two, Oracle has really invested in this program. I don’t believe Oracle is putting a wolf in sheep’s clothing here. If this turns out to be an audit program, people will find out immediately, and the word will get out, killing the program. That’s why I believe Oracle is genuinely invested in this as a software asset management program. They wouldn’t spend this amount of time, effort, and resources just to hide an audit. No client wants to sign up for an annual audit. So, I think this is well-intentioned from Oracle. They want to become a partner with their clients, keep them on Oracle products, and not drive them away.

Kris Johnson:

That’s good to hear. We all hope that it will turn out to be exactly that. Does the customer need to sign an agreement to participate in VSAM or amend their existing contract?

Jeremy Sayler:

With Oracle, there’s one document—a confidentiality agreement—which allows Oracle to give the VSAM partner entitlement information. This actually makes everyone’s life easier. We don’t have to go to the client and say, “Hey, go get all your entitlement data." Oracle can supply that to us and expedite the process. It’s a benefit to the client, to the partners, and to everyone as part of this program. We get all the entitlements as Oracle sees them.

That’s the only document. There’s nothing else to sign with Oracle. With your VSAM partner, that will likely be on a case-by-case basis. For our existing clients, we’re not asking them to sign anything additional. If they are with us as part of a managed service, they can enroll in the program.

Kris Johnson:

Does that confidentiality agreement also have terms about the audit reprieve?

Jeremy Sayler:

No, it is specific just to Oracle providing data to the VSAM partner.

Kris Johnson:

So, is there any specific amendment to the audit?

Jeremy Sayler:

Great point. This depends on the outcome of the review. Let’s assume Anglepoint does an assessment and there are no issues. We go back to Oracle and say, “Client ABC has completed the assessment with no issues. Let’s get the audit reprieve." Oracle will go through their approval process, grant the audit reprieve, and send a communication to the client. That communication will likely be an email, possibly a letter, that documents the audit reprieve for the period and the product.

If there is an issue that turns out to require a license purchase, the Oracle order document would state the contractual audit reprieve in that order document. It really depends on the outcome. If the client eventually buys licenses because there’s no remediation that can be done, then we would see that contractual language in the order document.

Kris Johnson:

So I’m glad you covered that. The VSAM partner does a review. There are some overages or shortages. What is the obligation of the VSAM partner to report those, and is there any period for the customer to make changes to ensure they are correctly licensed? As we all know, there may be some legacy installed products that are not being used. How much flexibility does the customer have?

Jeremy Sayler:

Yeah, okay. This is an important piece. So, we do the assessment. We find, let’s start with a deficit. There needs to be a plan. We would communicate the deficit and the plan to Oracle. Let’s say it’s Oracle Database and we have a deficit of 10 processors. Here is our remediation plan. That would be delivered to Oracle in an email format to say, “This is the issue. Here’s the plan. Here’s our timeline."

Oracle has not stated any definitive timelines to remediate. That being said, we probably can’t say that this will be remediated two years down the road, right? So it likely has to be within a reasonable timeframe—maybe three or four months. We demonstrate that plan to Oracle. They’ll give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Maybe there’s some negotiation, perhaps regarding the timeline. Once that’s agreed to, we work to remediate.

If we eliminate the issue, it’s gone, and we can then get that audit reprieve. If there are lingering issues that can’t be remediated, that’s when we would likely consider a license purchase. Are there any other surpluses? Maybe there could be a license migration. What could be done to address the license deficit? Again, the audit reprieve would be contingent on that order document or if everything is remediated, it would be in that email to say, “Okay, we see that you’ve completed your remediation plan."

Kris Johnson:

And a legitimate remediation action might be, “Hey, we need to buy some additional licenses."

Jeremy Sayler:

That could be the case.

Kris Johnson:

I think it’s important for everyone to understand that it looks like they are just wanting proactive management of the Oracle estate and allowing control on the part of the customer to demonstrate that they have that control. Demonstrate that, “Okay, we know how to count. We have a certified partner that ensures we know how to count and count well. We’re taking ownership and responsibility for the outcomes."

If there’s a problem, we have a plan to fix it. This could mean uninstalling things, consolidating, putting Oracle databases on a single cluster, and optimizing various scenarios, which can take some time. It sounds like Oracle is reasonably open to those types of remediations. This reflects what often happens when you get audited—there’s negotiation. Sometimes it’s tense because sales are very focused on extracting revenue.

But if the customer negotiates well, they usually end up paying only for what they actually need. If you can demonstrate it was a mistake, or that you don’t need or use certain software, you might uninstall it and not pay for historical non-usage. It shortcuts all of that. Essentially, it’s about what you actually need of Oracle’s software today for your business. Optimize it down if possible. If there is unused software, get rid of it.

Take out the tension, get sales out of the equation, and get correctly licensed as verified by a qualified partner. Then, you’re good. If you need more licenses, you pay for them. Are there any penalties or fees if they need to buy more licenses under the program?

Jeremy Sayler:

No penalties, no fees. Again, this is not an audit program. Oracle is taking a software asset management approach, focusing on proactive SAM management where you license what you need. The intent is to be correctly licensed with Oracle. It’s really a breath of fresh air.

Kris Johnson:

It’s great to see a publisher like Oracle going to these lengths to empower their customers to make the right decisions, optimize, pay for only what they need, take the tension out of it, take sales out of the equation, and give more control to the customer. Anything else, Jeremy, that you want to add?

Jeremy Sayler:

We’re extremely excited about this program. We think it provides added value to clients by removing the fear of an audit—not just the fear, but also the time, resources, and effort required for an audit. Audits are time-consuming and take away valuable resources from other tasks. By participating in this program, you can avoid that and focus on what really matters. So, we’re thrilled to offer this to our clients, ensuring they won’t be audited by Oracle because they’re part of our program.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah, it sounds great. I think this will gain traction and momentum as it becomes evident that this is legitimate and not just a hidden audit program. It took the IBM ISP program a few cycles before people started trusting it. There might be some subtle differences between the programs, but hopefully, customers will trust their VSAM partners.

Jeremy Sayler:

One last thing on that point—Anglepoint has a relationship with Oracle, but we are not getting any money from Oracle. We don’t receive anything for enrolling a client or any kind of kickback on a license sale. That’s not our interest. We are also not a license reseller at Anglepoint. Our interest is solely focused on our clients. We want them to be optimized, using their Oracle licenses as effectively as possible. If their goal is to limit Oracle license purchases, we can help them do that. We’re not here to be Oracle’s middleman; we’re here to help our clients. One of the main benefits of this program is the audit reprieve, which helps clients manage their software assets and avoid vendor audits.

Kris Johnson:

That’s a great point. Part of Anglepoint’s DNA is ensuring that if something isn’t valuable to the client or in their best interest, we won’t propose it or offer it. Thanks, Jeremy. Appreciate you coming in and giving us the info.

Jeremy Sayler:

Thank you.

For more insights on the Oracle Certified SAM Partner Program, take a look at our …

 If you’re interested in learning more about Jeremy or Kris connect with them on LinkedIn.

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