In 2014, the UK based Campaign for Clear Licensing issued a report claiming Oracle created a hostile environment with their customers over licensing, contracting, and auditing policies.
When the report was issued, a number of online articles and publications commented on the subject. You can find them in PCWorld, InformationWeek, Tech Republic, Channelweb … the list goes on and on. It was like a feeding frenzy of people announcing that Oracle was hard to do business with. I mean, we all knew this already, but now we have it in writing! It’s been five years since the report and the question we can still ask is: has Oracle changed or are they still hostile?
Has Oracle changed since 2014?
Unfortunately for Oracle customers we do not see a change in Oracle behavior. In fact, since this report was issued, we witnessed how Oracle pressured the City Of Denver in an audit, how Oracle went after the Mars candy company, and we can see how Oracle sued their customers like the State of Oregon and Google. Rather than getting better, I believe Oracle is getting worse.
In the time since this report, Oracle has lowered the quality of their audits to the point where customers can no longer rely on these results. This alone could cost millions. Oracle has used non-contract policies to try and thwart their customers from moving to non-Oracle cloud or third party support providers. Guess what? It’s not working. Oracle customers are still moving in those directions.
The report, Key Risks in Managing Oracle Licensing (Nov 2014) (pdf) is very well written. You’ll see it’s not all bashing Oracle.
People love the technology. It’s the contracting, licensing, and auditing that give them agita. Add Oracle’s cloud push and you have a recipe for customer satisfaction disaster.
There are so many nuggets in this report I could write about, but I would keep you here all day. Rather than write a tome on the subject, I’m going to break this down into areas that focus on the report’s main findings.
Issue number 1
Identified in the clear licensing report – the customer perceives “[t]hat they are not autonomous. Customers are dependent on Oracle for decision-making.”
Oracle customers simply feel like they have no control over their own spend and even their technology decisions. Threats of audits, complex policies, unwritten rules, and vague policy/educational documents leave clients worried. The truth is, they have every reason to worry. Without having a master’s degree in all things Oracle, you can still easily find yourself in a world of hurt.
Customers feel dependent on Oracle because of those unwritten rules, vaguely referenced documents, complex contracts, changing policies, etc, etc. It doesn’t all fall on Oracle. Plenty of the confusion comes from other technology companies, who are trying to sell their products and services. Those companies are making representations to these Oracle customers about how to license their technology in an Oracle environment. Those companies are not Oracle licensing experts. They are trying to sell their products. It’s easy to see how clients get turned around.
Issue number 2
The clear licensing report says that 92% of respondents do not think Oracle clearly articulates licensing changes. 92%!
If I had to make a guess on the number in 2019, my guess would be that more than 92% think Oracle still does not communicate clearly. Do you remember Oracle’s big announcement on their audit clause changes? Or how they removed the Software Investment Guide from their website. You don’t remember that? Not surprising, given that Oracle never made an announcement. They just made the change and left their customers to figure it out.
The good news for Oracle customers is that five years after this report they still have Palisade Compliance to help them manage Oracle and keep Oracle under control. Every time Oracle has made a move to corner their customers, we’ve created a new strategy to further liberate our clients from Oracle. The more Oracle tightens their grip, the more their customers will slip through their fingers.