Oracle, fear and loathing

With Oracle CloudWorld in Las Vegas kicking off, the on-going battle with third party support provider Rimini Street is once again making the news. On October 10th Oracle said it had informed the court that it is prepared to proceed with a bench trial “because it is the most efficient path to ending Rimini’s illegal conduct, including its longstanding and continuing violations of Oracle’s copyrights.”

Oracle offers three support stages for its enterprise software, tools and databases: Premier Support, Extended Support, and Sustaining Support. In Oracle’s words, these “deliver maximum value by providing you with rights to major product releases so you can take full advantage of technology and product enhancements.”

Premier Support provides a standard five-year support policy for Oracle Technology products; Extended Support provides for an additional three years, and Sustaining Support is indefinite technical support.

In its Magic Quadrant report for cloud database management products, Gartner warned that Oracle’s on-premises products are often perceived to be expensive and difficult to manage, and customers continue to raise concerns about contract negotiations. In fact, Oracle recently increased maintenance charge from 5% to 8% of the original contract value.

Fixes, updates, and critical patch updates created during Premier Support and Extended Support are the only fixes available when the product reaches Sustaining Support. One needs to question why people continue to buy support, if the only patches they are entitled to are the ones that have already been published.

The challenge for many IT leaders is that while they may wish to continue running Oracle, especially if it is part of a core system of record, such as the Oracle relational database, they are being encouraged, or worse, coerced, into upgrading. One of the big benefits of third-party support contracts is that they separate software from maintenance and support.

But Oracle contracts stipulate that technical support may not be discontinued for a single program module within a custom application bundle. In effect, buying the best Oracle deal bundle will mean the customer remains tied in to paying full maintenance fees on all products in that bundle, even if some are replaced with non-Oracle products or third party support is used.

Rimini Street originally ended up on the wrong side of Oracle IP (intellectual Property) in 2010 and in October 2015, a jury found that Rimini Street infringed 93 copyrights.

While Oracle claims Rimini downloaded its IP illegally, customers paying Oracle for maintenance have every right to download fixes, patches and documentation, so long as these things remain on their own systems. What Oracle’s latest actions show is that it remains deadly serious about putting the knife into third party maintenance and support.

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