AWS Database Blog

AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessments can help you to optimize Amazon RDS migration and usage costs

Oracle and Microsoft customers have been deploying their database workloads to Amazon Web Services in record numbers. The AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (AWS OLA) has helped many of these customers save on third party licensing costs and run their database resources efficiently on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC). The AWS OLA is available as a funded offering to new and existing customers.

Many customers are evaluating a managed database service as part of their cloud migration. Managed database services like Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) offer you the benefit of off-loading operational tasks so you can focus on innovation and business growth activities. The AWS OLA can now be used to assess your licensing and sizing for deploying to Amazon RDS. This affords you the holistic opportunity of a total cost of ownership (TCO) view for deploying databases to EC2, VMC, and RDS.

In this post, we walk you through what an AWS OLA for Amazon RDS provides and how it can be used for database workloads. We also share an overview of what other programs and tools are available to develop a cost-optimized migration plan to move these workloads to AWS.

AWS OLA & Amazon RDS: What is an AWS OLA and how does it now apply to Amazon RDS migrations?

As noted, you can now work with your AWS account manager to request an AWS OLA. The AWS OLA will help contribute to a database migration and licensing strategy that includes Amazon RDS for Oracle and Amazon RDS for SQL Server. The results of such an AWS OLA helps you explore available deployment options to Amazon RDS based on your unique database licensing entitlements.

By incorporating Amazon RDS as a deployment option, you can consider the added value of less time managing databases along with improved database and infrastructure efficiency. This allows you to focus on innovating and building new applications that further drive the growth of your business instead of managing laborious and costly database operations.

An AWS OLA for RDS follows the same approach as an AWS OLA for EC2 or VMC as seen in the following graphic. After assessing the workload licensing and analyzing the workload sizing, you will receive a high-level deployment options with a comparative TCO that includes Amazon RDS as a deployment option.

AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment Approach

Database Entitlement & Deployment Options: You can use AWS OLAs to validate database entitlement and deployment options

An AWS OLA is a good starting point for understanding your license entitlement and database deployment options prior to moving to AWS. Every situation is different and an AWS OLA provides you data points for your use case in order to make an informed decision. An APN Partner who specializes in licensing will be assigned to deliver the OLA and provide the relevant licensing guidance.

For example, what are your database migration options if you have an “unlimited license agreement?” Is licensing in AWS more expensive than using the database vendor’s cloud? Will you get vendor support for your databases if you migrate to AWS? What if you are an Independent Software Vendor (ISV), can you host your end-customer databases in AWS based on your current contract?

An AWS OLA helps you to answer these and other important questions. In addition, many companies are able to find additional savings based on a recent whitepaper by GLG on “The Business Value of Adopting Amazon Web Services (AWS) Managed Databases.”. The GLG report points out that the majority of database costs come from vendor licensing, highlighting that it is critical to understand entitlement and deployment options prior to finalizing a migration strategy.

Cost Savings from Managed Database Option

Oracle Application Review: AWS OLAs can provide Amazon RDS options for a workload’s’ full stack

For Oracle applications, an AWS OLA can be used to look at the full application and database stack. While Oracle application licensing may seem more straightforward than Oracle database licensing, it is important to look at both together to get a clear picture of migration options on AWS.

Oracle applications on AWS options include Enterprise Resource Planning software like E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. An AWS OLA can also assess your Oracle applications to now provide the TCO for your specific ERP and database deployment to Amazon RDS.

Total Cost of Ownership: You can compare the total cost of ownership for different Amazon RDS options

It is important to understand the Total Cost of Ownership for running databases workloads in the cloud before making a final decision on your cloud migration. Amazon RDS provides a number of database engines, features and instance sizes from which to consider. You can also choose between “Bring-Your-Own-License (BYOL)” or “License Included” options based on the recommendation of an AWS OLA.

TCO considerations may include hourly pricing as well as reserved instance plans. As noted on the Amazon RDS for Oracle webpage, reserved instance plans can help you achieve up to 48% net cost savings. An AWS OLA provides a high level TCO comparison of the commercial database options and related Amazon RDS benefits (see the GLG white paper graphic below).

Migrating to AWS Managed Database Results

OLAs, MAP and POCs: Leveraging AWS programs to fully plan your migration

An AWS OLA provides recommendations to “right-size” cloud resources to the needs of the database workloads, which is a key opportunity when planning your cloud migration. Nathan Fuzi highlights in his blog “Migrate to Amazon RDS for Oracle with cost optimization” that Amazon RDS has automation and features that traditional data centers don’t have, such as patching and upgrades. Nathan also notes that while a lift and shift may be a simpler migration approach, the method can bring with it common over-provisioning and legacy aspects from an on-premise deployment.

Amazon RDS Managed Features

You can also use an AWS OLA to find alternatives to database feature usage. For example, you can use an AWS OLA to validate if the “Enterprise” edition of your database, whether Oracle or SQL Server, can be moved to a “Standard” edition which can reduce licensing costs significantly.s

While an AWS OLA may provide high-level guidance on sizing, you can couple the AWS OLA with the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP). An AWS MAP effort can use the outcomes of an AWS OLA to better perform a detailed migration assessment for your database estate. Also, a Proof-of-Concept (POC) can be included as part of the MAP effort to test a variety of operation and performance scenarios in Amazon RDS as recommended by an AWS OLA.

Ongoing Optimization: Using AWS License Manager and/or 3rd party tools for ongoing cost optimization

While an AWS OLA can provide optimized licensing recommendations for an AWS migration, ongoing license management is important. AWS License Manager makes it simple to manage software licenses. AWS License Manager can manage software licenses from vendors such as Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and IBM across AWS and on-premises environments. As overviewed in the graphic below, AWS License Manager also helps you define rules, control usage and track license needs as database usage grows or shrinks. The tool also provides alerts to centrally-manage licenses across AWS and on-premises deployments.

Critical success factors to consider include visibility and control of potential misuse, maximization of overall license usage and increased productivity through automated license and compliance tracking. See the AWS License Manager FAQ for more information on tracking license usage and compliance.

How AWS License Manager Works

A number of 3rd party licensing tools may also be available to augment or complement AWS License Manager. While outside of the scope of an AWS OLA, you should can work with your AWS account team to consider AWS License Manager as well as validate if a 3rd party tool is available in the AWS Marketplace.


In this post, we discussed how AWS Optimization and License Assessments cover deployment options to Amazon EC2, VMware Cloud on AWS and now Amazon Relational Database Service. An AWS OLA is a great activity for you to use to make a fully informed decision for database migrations (and application migrations) to any of these services.

You can work with your AWS account manager today to request an AWS OLA to validate the scope of effort for your unique use case. The results of an AWS OLA will help you better understand the licensing, sizing and total cost of ownership considerations for migrating databases to AWS, whether to EC2, VMC or now to RDS.

About the author

Bob Lindquist is a Database Partner Development Specialist at AWS. Bob works directly with AWS partners to help customers accelerate their database migrations to AWS, with a particular focus on Amazon RDS, Aurora and NoSQL database services. He has been involved in database licensing and optimization as a customer, a partner and at AWS for over 20 years.