Oracle customer has licensing meltdown

23 October 2012
5 minute read

Oracle customer has licensing meltdown

23 October 2012
5 minute read

A letter from an ITAM Review reader:

Dear Martin,

I wanted to let you know how useful I find your Oracle Licensing Quick Guide when educating colleagues about the basics of Oracle licensing.

However it doesn’t mention one of my biggest Oracle Licensing bugbears, and one which is sure to be tripping up a lot of people other than myself.

T&C Spaghetti

This is the way Oracle just changes the T&Cs of its ordering documents without any notification. Given that the T&Cs in the ordering document override the T&Cs of any master agreement, it means that each time I purchase a license that in theory is the same as all my other licenses (all the same version, licensing metric and all under support and maintenance) the T&Cs of that license are different from the licenses I bought last week, last month and last year!

It drives me mad!

We have a pool of application licenses that we went through a complex process to migrate from a concurrent to a named user plus licensing metric, upgrade to the latest version, and place under maintenance. All the licenses, plus new ones we purchase have the same CSI (CPU Support Identification Number) number, but every time I buy new ones, I have to check the new ordering document line by line to spot the differences between it and our previous ordering documents to be sure we’re not agreeing to new T&Cs that mean we can’t manage the licenses as a pool.

Every single time I receive a new ordering document there are changes. Some of them quite significant changes. When I contact Oracle about it, they say ‘they’re not material changes, it won’t have an impact on your licenses’… to which I ask “if they’re not material, then why change things?!”

I’ve been lucky so far that when I dig in my heels Oracle generally amend the ordering document to the point where the only changes are ones that I do consider to be immaterial, but I find the complete waste of my time trawling through legal documentation to spot minor changes infuratiating!

Oracle Maintenance Nightmares

And as for Oracle’s maintenance policies… well, they make me want to kick someone! They have an all or nothing maintenance policy (can’t remember the proper term off-hand, sorry) and I understand the rationale behind it – we could easily take out a single maintenance policy and then log all support calls under that policy, whether they really were for the maintained system or not. But it can lead to snafus…if we have an unused set of licenses and want to let maintenance lapse, we need to formally cancel the licenses with Oracle before cancelling the maintenance, otherwise they will refuse to accept support calls even for the other 99% of the same type of licenses that are still covered by maintenance.

If the purchasing department messes up and doesn’t make a scheduled maintenance payment, Oracle will withhold all support, and charge us 150% uplift to put the licenses back into maintenance! But you know what, if we mess up, it’s our problem… we agree to abide by the process, so no, it’s neither of these things that make me want to commit murder.

Oracle Maintenance – “You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!”

What does make me want to commit murder is Oracle’s policy that if… get this… if we cancel some licenses within a CSI (to reduce our maintenance costs), then Oracle will ‘adjust’ the maintenance on all the other licenses within the CSI… and you know what? Somehow, miraculously, the new maintenance on all the other licenses within that CSI somehow adds up to just about the same amount of maintenance we were paying before we cancelled.

Now I’ve had the particular term pointed out to me in Oracle’s documentation that allows them to do this, and you know, you could read that paragraph to mean what Oracle says it means, but I defy anyone, ANYONE to agree that this is a fair and reasonable policy.

And what makes me doubly mad is that they do this for sets of licenses within a CSI, which is the exact same set of licenses that I have to do a word by word check of the ordering document to ensure these licenses all have the same material T&Cs!!!

AAAAAAaaaaaaargh. If anyone wants to work with an arrogant, inflexible, schmuck of a licensing vendor, they should get into Oracle licensing… they beat Microsoft hands down any day.

Ooops, this email turned into a bit of a rant! Sorry. But keep up the good work! I love the ITAM Review, and find so many of its articles really helpful!


Can’t find what you’re looking for?