Gartner joins attack on Oracle licence charges

Leading research company, Gartner Group, has added its weight to the attack on Oracle's database pricing methods that was...

Leading research company, Gartner Group, has added its weight to the attack on Oracle's database pricing methods that was launched last week by rival analysts Meta Group.

In a new report, three Gartner analysts said they believe that "Oracle sales staff has inappropriately imposed extra licensing fees on some database customers," and urged those affected to seek legal advice.

The analysts charged the database giant with making pricing models confusing for customers and often applied charges incorrectly. The tactics were an attempt to offset weak database sales by lifting revenue with "extraneous licensing fees," the report claimed.

Last week Meta Group issued a statement saying that some of its clients that used a named user licence pricing model were forced to buy more licences or convert to a more expensive processor-based licensing scheme.

Gartner's report examined some of the same issues, saying that Oracle forces customer to pick the most costly option between named-user and processor-based pricing. Gartner advised customers to ask Oracle for two pricing proposals based on both licensing methods and to perform their own periodic audits.

Gartner said interviews with its clients also showed that Oracle attempts to "pre-sell far more licences than the customer will ever use in the form of a five- to seven-year enterprise license agreements with many thousands of named users or processors." Oracle tries to have customers pay extra fees for a data warehouse that has information coming in from either Internet feeds or internal data sources.

Commenting on Gartner's charges, Oracle's executive vice-president, George Roberts said: "Oracle management does not condone or encourage the type of sales force behavior that is mentioned in this analyst report."

"If a customer has an issue with a sales proposal, Oracle has always encouraged customers to get in contact with a senior Oracle sales executive," he said.

Gartner said Oracle's pricing tactics have affected its credibility. It also levelled other complaints against the vendor.

Oracle employees in some instances claim that non-Oracle data warehouses must be licensed, regardless whether the target database is Oracle's.

Customers have also complained that Oracle will perform occasional audits and come back to customers with increased licensing costs. On other occasions, it will offer discounts that are smaller than would normally be expected.

Additionally, Gartner called for customers to "seek immediate legal and purchasing advice about the legality of any extra charges levied by Oracle," and "renegotiate contracts with Oracle if these licensing issues arise and, in any new contract, ensure the licensing method is agreed to explicitly."

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