Oracle under fire over "hostile" licensing relationships


Oracle has been accused of generating "hostile" and "mistrustful" feelings among its customers when it comes to licensing matters in a new report.

The document, entitled Key Risks in Managing Oracle Licensing, was compiled by the Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) to highlight the key issues end users face when dealing with the vendor on licensing.

It features insights gleaned from several sources, including a survey of 100 of the software giant's customers, a roundtable event and an "open discussion" with the firm's licensing management team.

According to its findings, Oracle's approach to licensing has resulted in "hostile" customer relationships.

"Based on our research and conversations over the last six months, we have found that customers' relationships with Oracle are hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust," said Martin Thompson, CCL founder and author of the report.

"So entrenched is this feeling of mistrust that some organisations were fearful of speaking to us in case of any audit repercussions."

Respondents to the survey (88 per cent) described the vendor's software audit requests as unclear and difficult to respond to, while 78 per cent said Oracle's licensing management arm was largely unhelpful during the process.

Furthermore, changes to Oracle's software licensing rules were not clearly communicated, according to 92 per cent of the survey's respondents.

Oracle's licensing management division was given the opportunity to address some of the report's findings, and stated that it was on hand to help customers work through their licensing problems.

It also admitted that, in response to concerns about how licensing rule changes were communicated, that "customer's documents are not updated regularly" and that the licensing team "don't always receive updates on new products."

The report wasn't all bad news for Oracle, as the vendor received positive feedback in several areas, including its willingness to publicly share information on its website for users to refer to, while the professionalism of those in its licensing department was also praised.

"Whilst every organisation entering into contracts must be accountable for the agreements they purchase, a disproportionate amount of risk and management overhead appears to be placed on the customer by Oracle," Thompson continued.

"Similarly, many customers have not invested, or are not capable of investing, sufficient resource to manage their Oracle estate, or are aware of the investment in management overhead that they will require prior to engaging with Oracle.

"On the whole, the customers we surveyed appear to have an arms' length, impoverished relationship with Oracle," he added.

IT Pro contacted Oracle for a response on this story, but had not received one at the time of publication.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.