SIA accuses Oracle of cornering hardware maintenance space

The Service Industry Association (SIA) has accused Oracle of attempting to destroy the third-party maintenance market by initiating anti-competitive policies on hardware support.

The Service Industry Association (SIA) has accused Oracle of attempting to destroy the third-party maintainenace market by initiating anti-competitive policies on hardware support.

The computer services trade body has lodged complaints with the European Union and the Attorney General's Office in 50 US states to challenge new measures outlined in Oracle's Hardware and Systems Support Policy that were in place from January.

The SIA complaint centres on Oracle's policies for customers that buy even just a portion of their maintenance services elsewhere; it refuses to support or repair on a 'time and materials' basis any Sun/ StorageTek boxes; denies access to security patches or firmware updates; and penalise customers that return to buy maintenance direct.

"The SIA contends the new policies are directed at capturing the $2.4bn (£1.47bn) of Sun hardware maintenance business currently contracted to independent service organisations (ISO)," said the association.

It described Oracle's hardware support policies as "the most onerous of all within the IT service and maintenance industry". 

Oracle has already attracted criticism from resellers in the UK over its decision to allow just four resellers - Computacenter, SCC, Q Associates and Esteem Systems - to renew maintenance agreements as they expire.

The SIA flagged up the shift in Oracle's policy to restrict access to operating systems software updates to customers with current Oracle maintenance contracts.

"This effectively prohibits all users needing software support from competitively selecting their hardware maintenance service," it stated.

The SIA added that the policies force customers to buy Oracle support on 'all or none' of their Sun hardware 

"For those customers who elect to use an ISO initially but later return to Oracle support, Oracle has imposed onerous 'return to Oracle' service restoration fees clearly intended to intimidate customers from leaving Oracle support in the first place," the SIA said.

Customers must pay a reinstatement charge equal to 150% of the support fee from the lapsed date if they return to Oracle, the SIA said.

"Because these changes are so restrictive, it is the opinion of the SIA that the sole purpose of these policies is to destroy the independent service market so as to monopolise the revenue stream for hardware support," it added.

Oracle refused to comment "at this stage".

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