Licensing trouble

Oracle is coming under fire for aggressive sales tactics. Both Meta Group and Gartner are gunning for the software vendor following claims that Oracle has been overselling licences, only quoting the most expensive licensing options, and charging for data processing that they shouldn’t.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  March 30, 2002

Oracle is coming under fire for aggressive sales tactics. Both Meta Group and Gartner are gunning for the software vendor following claims that Oracle has been overselling licences, only quoting the most expensive licensing options, and charging for data processing that they shouldn’t.

Meta has even recommended that customers take Oracle to court if they think they have been overcharged. Oracle has responded by saying that many of the charges have been in place for a long time, and that if customers think they have been unfairly charged, they will look into it.

Of course, no-one can blame Oracle for trying to maximise licensing revenue—it is the core business, and with database revenues in decline, the pressure is on. But when two of the most respected analyst houses in the world are suggesting that clients should consider suing the vendor, something is clearly very wrong indeed.

You cannot blame salesmen for trying to get the most out of a customer either, be it direct or channel sales—they are rewarded for getting licensing dollars, so that is what they will do.

The problem lies in licensing models that are too complicated for customers to understand, that allow unscrupulous sales people to use to their advantage. An enterprise database is a complicated thing to sell, but if the licences are so complex that they are causing this much friction, then something needs to be done.

The same problem manifests at the SMB level—the customer doesn’t always know which option they need or want, and the sales person isn’t doing their job if they don’t get maximum value. While vendors say they are always happy to clarify, can they really be trusted to be impartial? Then there are the problems of inequalities between pricing for different systems integrators, just to further muddy the waters.

Fair and impartial handling of licences should fall to the channel, as the bridge between vendor and customer, and properly handled, a customer will respect a channel partner that saves them money by getting the licensing right. Right now in the region, there is added focus on licensing as the BSA attempts to cut piracy—a difficult job if customers don’t think the licensing models are fair.

With all these issues in mind, one of the region’s distributors, (Tech Data, as you ask) is trying to get some sort of discussion going in the Middle East about these problems, and to introduce some practical assistance to resellers on licensing. Make sure you have your say.

You may have noticed that for the past few week eCRN has carried a request to renew subscriptions for CRN—that is the monthly print magazine—not this email newsletter. Well, it seems that not enough of you have got online and done this. Just to reiterate, you must renew your details this month to continue getting CRN. The March 2002 issue should be on its way to subscribers now, but if you haven’t renewed your details yet, it is going to be the last copy you get.

Unfortunately it is a requirement of our circulation audit company, who provide official independent figures on readership, that we update our data every three years; and with the high turnover of staff in the region, it makes sense to keep our records as up to date as possible.

This means that the magazine goes straight to the people who want it, instead of getting lost in the internal mail or clogging up the in trays of people that don’t want to read it. It shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, as it only takes a minute or two to refresh details, and we would really appreciate it if you as subscribers could take the time to do it.

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