Selecting an Oracle Inventory Collection Method

FlexNet Manager Suite 2022 R1 (On-Premises)
The selection of a particular Oracle inventory gathering method depends on your software installation policies, and your network and database access policies determined by your network and Oracle Database administrators. For example, you may prefer to either:
  • Deploy the FlexNet inventory agent on each of your Oracle servers
  • Collect database-only inventory using one or more inventory beacons connecting through a listener to each database instance (called 'direct' inventory).
The following diagram provides a broad overview for selection of an Oracle inventory collection method. Numbers in the diagram correspond to the description below. Further details of each inventory collection method are discussed on the following pages.
Tip: In the following discussion, the term "UNIX-like platforms" is used to group together AIX, HP-UX, all supported flavors of Linux (CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Oracle, Red Hat), OS X, and Solaris.

  1. To perform license management and compliance for Oracle-specific licenses, you need a license for the FlexNet Manager for Datacenters product. Without this product, you can only discover Oracle infrastructure and collect basic Oracle software inventory. For more details, see Appendix F: Features Enabled in FlexNet Manager for Datacenters.
  2. If you can install a FlexNet inventory agent on each of the target Oracle servers, this provides the most complete solution. You may use a discovery and inventory rule to 'adopt' Oracle servers (that is, automatically install the FlexNet inventory agent on them, and continue to manage the behavior through device policy); or you may deploy the FlexNet inventory agent with the tool of your choice. On a global schedule, each of the locally-installed FlexNet inventory agents collects the inventory for its device, and uploads the results to the appropriate inventory beacon. For more information, see How Agent-Based Collection of Oracle Inventory Works.
  3. The FlexNet Inventory Scanner offers a light-weight alternative to the full FlexNet inventory agent, for a moderate trade-off in functionality (for example, if the first attempt at an inventory upload across the network fails for some transient reason, there is no catch-up). You also have a little more flexibility in its set-up, as you take responsibility for its scheduling as well as its deployment. For details, see How the FlexNet Inventory Scanner Collects Oracle Inventory.
  4. When local installation is not an option, you may collect inventory through the Zero-footprint method. Here the FlexNet inventory core components saved on the inventory beacon are (for Windows) executed from this file share, or (for UNIX-like platforms) downloaded, temporarily installed, executed, and then removed from the target device, leaving no permanent installation footprint. The process is managed by a discovery and inventory rule configured on the central application server for FlexNet Manager Suite, and the same rule dictates the inventory collection schedule. For details, see How Zero-footprint Collection of Oracle Inventory Works. In terms of the results achieved, this is functionally identical to the locally-installed agent option.
    Tip: Any of the above three methods of using a local copy of the core inventory component (ndtrack) on the Oracle database server provide additional features that are not supported by the later options in the flowchart above:
    • The local inventory component collects more detailed hardware information, to the levels required for some of the more advanced Oracle license types (for example, collecting the count of available processors, necessary for consumption calculations for Oracle Processor licenses)
    • Provided that the installed inventory component is version 12.4 or later (that is, released with FlexNet Manager Suite 2017 R3 or later), it can also gather inventory from Oracle database instances that are in standby (that is, MOUNTED, but not in READ mode). This includes, for example, the standby database instance in an Active Data Guard configuration.
  5. If you do not have a direct network connection allowing an inventory beacon to communicate with the target Oracle server(s), the remaining option is to maintain Oracle Database inventory details in a spreadsheet format. You can then save the spreadsheet on an inventory beacon and have it automatically uploaded and included in Oracle license consumption calculations. However, maintaining data in this form over time is a high maintenance burden, and this approach is not recommended except as a last resort.
  6. Since you do have network access from an inventory beacon to your Oracle server(s), you can use direct gathering of Oracle Database inventory by the inventory beacon for each Oracle database instance (called 'direct' because the inventory beacon connects directly to the Oracle database instance to gather information — although as always this remote connection is brokered by a listener). There are three different ways that the system can discover the Oracle database instances from which to gather the inventory, and all three discovery/direct inventory combinations are detailed under How Direct Collection of Oracle Inventory Works. However, direct inventory gathering alone has two important shortcomings, the first affecting FlexNet inventory and the second relating to Oracle GLAS data for a potential audit:
    • For FlexNet inventory gathering, the direct method does not provide sufficient information to calculate consumption for all Oracle licenses (such as Oracle Named User Plus and Processor-based licenses), because these either require knowledge about the licensing of other Oracle options on the same server, or require additional details about the hardware that the database instance is running on. Therefore to use direct inventory gathering successfully for Oracle license management, you must have an additional source of inventory data both for the Oracle server hardware, and for any additional Oracle software (other than Oracle Database itself) that you want to manage. If you do not have these auxiliary data sources, you could revert to manual management of your data in spreadsheets, and importing those. (However, since spreadsheet maintenance is generally an unattractive option, you may wish to reconsider an alternative from earlier in the flowchart!)
    • The Oracle Global Licensing and Advisory Services (GLAS) provides scripts to collect both hardware and software data suitable for use in an Oracle audit. These scripts, as updated from time to time by Oracle, are distributed as required within the InventorySettings.xml file (delivered to you through the ARL updates because you have licensed the FlexNet Manager for Datacenters product). The scripts are automatically executed during all methods of collecting Oracle inventory, providing data exclusively packaged for your delivery to Oracle if required. However, there is one very important limitation with the direct method of inventory gathering: of the two parts provided in the GLAS scripts (hardware scripts to execute on the target Oracle server, and SQL queries to execute against each Oracle database instance), only the software data can be gathered during the direct connection to each database instance. The hardware scripts are not downloaded to the Oracle server, and so cannot be executed. If you are determined to use the direct method of Oracle inventory collection, be prepared to use alternate methods to execute the GLAS hardware scripts on each Oracle server in order to complete the Oracle GLAS audit requirements. Or, once again, reconsider one of first three methods from the flowchart, since each of these methods collects both hardware and software data required for Oracle GLAS, without additional effort on your part.
    One possibility is to combine direct gathering of Oracle inventory with local installation of either the FlexNet inventory agent or the FlexNet Inventory Scanner. At first glance, this may seem like obvious redundancy, but there is a corner case where this approach may be helpful: where your IT policies do not allow for OS authentication to be used with one or more of your Oracle Database installations. Since the absence of OS authentication prevents any locally installed inventory component from accessing the Oracle database instances on this server, it becomes a sensible compromise on such a server to use the locally-installed FlexNet inventory component to collect normal software and hardware inventory (including for other Oracle options on the server), combined with direct inventory gathering to cover the database instances on the same server.

FlexNet Manager Suite (On-Premises)

2022 R1