Open letter: To Larry Ellison and the board of directors at Oracle

To Larry Ellison and the board of directors at Oracle,

We at the Campaign for Clear Licensing, a not-for-profit organisation campaigning for the rights of business software buyers, urge you to take steps to improve the trust of your customers and address concerns over vendor lock-in if you wish to succeed in migrating them to your cloud computing services.

You must be commended for growing your cloud business by 45% in the last quarter, and clearly Wall Street is impressed with this progress. However, with just 5% of your revenue deriving from cloud services you have a long way to go before cloud becomes a major part of your business, and we believe there are significant challenges to overcome along the way. Not least of all is overcoming the deep-rooted mistrust of your core customer base as a result of your auditing and licensing practices. We fear that if Oracle does not address these concerns then the company’s ability to meet its stated $1 billion cloud sales target next year, together with the longer term outlook for its cloud computing business, will remain in doubt.

In November 2014 we published a report which examined the experiences of over 100 of your customers around the world. Among the key issues we found were:

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  • Oracle’s audit requests are often unclear and difficult to respond to
  • Oracle’s own LMS is largely unhelpful to customers during an audit
  • Oracle’s licensing changes are often poorly communicated (to the extent that in some instances Oracle’s own sales teams and LMS are often found to be working with out-of-date licensing information)
  • Oracle routinely moves the licensing goals posts to favour revenue streams over customer requirements


Together these issues have resulted in customer relationships that are predominantly hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust, particularly when it comes to licensing and audits. We strongly believe that failing to address these concerns will hamper Oracle’s ability to persuade its customers to adopt its cloud computing services, as most are concerned that cloud computing services will lock them into Oracle even more than they already are.

But there is time to change, and we applaud the levels of engagement we have already received from Oracle and in particular members of LMS who wish to address these already well-known issues. We are writing this letter to further increase this engagement so that real change can be achieved to everyone’s benefit.

We have already asked your customers for positive and constructive ways for how Oracle can improve its audit processes and communications around software license changes in order to improve customer trust. Here are the seven changes that your customers would like to see, as prioritised by them:

  1. Strategic Focus – Customer satisfaction, relationship strength and strategic value should replace audit revenue as a key performance indicator.
  2. Audit Clarity – Oracle needs to be crystal clear with audit activity and adopt the Campaign for Clear Licensing code of conduct
  3. One voice please – Organisations want clarity over Oracle license management from one voice. They don’t want to be passed around between departments who don’t communicate with each other.
  4. Knowledgebase – Oracle needs to invest in a well-organized knowledgebase to educate its customers
  5. Re-engineer risk – As more organisations mature in their governance processes, more will shy away from Oracle as an unnecessary burden to manage. Oracle needs to engineer its products and license programs to reduce unnecessary risk. The focus of control needs to be placed in the hands of the business not developers.
  6. Software Asset Management Evangelism – Oracle needs to help educate its customers to assign appropriate resource for managing software and proactively assist with licensing training and management practices around Oracle software.
  7. Communicate – Oracle is not being invited to participate in key business conversations because of mistrust. Oracle needs to step up conversations and provide clarity to regain trust.

We understand that these changes will not happen overnight but we hope that they will guide meaningful change. The Campaign for Clear Licensing is a pro-software organisation. We love software and the way it enriches people’s lives, and Oracle can be proud of its contribution to the modern world. But for the sake of the company’s long-term future and the success of its cloud computing services, we urge you to review these recommendations that have been validated by your customers.

The Campaign for Clear Licensing



CCL White Paper: Key Risks in Managing Oracle Licensing

This report is the result of discussions and research with CCL members, The ITAM Review community and the Oracle License Management Services (LMS) team. Thank you to everyone that took the time to participate.

The aim of this report is to highlight the key issues and risks in managing Oracle licensing and share information and knowledge to help CCL members. The report will also form the basis of further discussions with Oracle – with a view to generating positive change.

The report consists of two sections:

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  • Part one shows how organizations view working with Oracle LMS
  • Part two explores specific issues as prioritized by CCL members


Executive Summary

This report highlights the key issues and risks in managing Oracle Licensing. This information is being shared with CCL members and is also being used as the basis of a constructive dialogue with Oracle so that positive change benefitting both the customer base and Oracle itself will result.

Key issues identified by the respondents with Oracle can be broadly grouped into three themes;

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  • The customer does not feel autonomous
  • They receive inconsistent messages from Oracle
  • They feel that Oracle realigns the goal posts to favour revenue streams over customer requirements.


This report provides feedback from customers experienced with working with Oracle LMS, explores their key issues in detail and provides seven recommendations for positive change:

  1. One voice from Oracle
  2. A licensing knowledgebase
  3. Greatly improved communications
  4. Re-engineering risk
  5. SAM Evangelism
  6. Audit Clarity
  7. Strategic focus

Download: Key Risks in Managing Oracle

Oracle Seminar 21st November, London

The Campaign for Clear Licensing, in partnership with The ITAM Review, is hosting a free one day seminar on Oracle Licensing on Friday 21st November in central London. This is a great opportunity to discuss some of the issues highlighted in the report and meet your peers. Further info here:

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If you have any questions regarding the report or feedback on Oracle please contact me.

Martin Thompson, October 2014. 

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  • @itammartin
  • martin at clearlicensing dot org


Event Listing: Oracle Licensing Seminar

The Campaign for Clear Licensing is working in partnership with the ITAM Review to host an Oracle Licensing seminar.
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  • What: Oracle Licensing Seminar
  • When: Friday 21st November 2014
  • Who: The ITAM Review in partnership with the Campaign for Clear Licensing
  • Where: BCS Offices, London
  • How: Register and learn more here:



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  • 09:45 – 10:20 “Common Oracle licensing contracts and grey areas of licensing risk” Monica State and Madalina Chirculescu, ITAMS [Premier Sponsor]
  • 10.20 – 10.55 “The Oracle EULA” Piaras MacDonnell, Suredatum
  • 10.55 – 11.25 Refreshment Break
  • 11.25 – 12.00 “What to expect during an Oracle License Audit and how to prepare yourself” Richard Spithoven, b.lay
  • 12.00 – 12.35 “Taking the bite out of software licensing terms” Cathy Hamilton & Kamal Patheja, Deutche Post DHL.
  • 12.35 – 13.35 Lunch
  • 13.35 – 14.20 Workshop
  • 14.20 – 15.05 Workshop
  • 15.05 – 15.25 Refreshment Break 
  • 15.25 – 16.10 Workshop
  • 16.10 – 16.20 Closing remarks



This event is for end user organizations only. Chatham House rules apply.

Key issues and talking points will be captured anonymously and presented to Oracle for further discussions.

Register and learn more here:



Oracle, the first software publisher to meet Campaign for Clear Licensing

Oracle is the first software publisher to meet with the Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL).

The aim is to build a mutually beneficial feedback mechanism with constructive dialogue over the longer term.

Process as follows:

  1. We will solicit feedback on Oracle licensing and audit programs via a survey over the coming weeks.
  2. We will meet to discuss key priorities regarding Oracle and discuss broader survey feedback (CCL members only) Wed 26th March 11:30 – 13:30, Central London, UK.
  3. A small delegation of CCL members will meet Oracle on Thurs 24th April 13:00 – 16:00, again Central London, UK.

Survey details and event registration to follow.

In the meantime if you have any question please contact me. Similarly if you are able to host a CCL meeting (outside the UK) please let me know.

UPDATED: 6th MARCH 2014 

Please provide your feedback and confirm dates using this form, thank you:


Meeting Notes from 23rd September Roundtable and Next Actions

The first roundtable for the Campaign for Clear Licensing was held in Canary Wharf in London last month.

The roundtable included:

  • Twenty SAM professionals
  • Mostly large corporates including 6 FTSE 100 companies
  • Four government departments
  • Representatives from UK, Germany and the Netherlands

(The Campaign has also received considerable interest from the USA, I apologize to our US friends – we’re not ignoring you – please bear with us whilst we get things off the ground).

I have embedded the discussion document from our meeting below:

The document also includes a summary of the results of our industry consultation. We have distilled all the feedback into several key strategic objectives to drive the campaign forward.

Key Talking Points from the Roundtable:

  • A key deliverable of the Campaign is to provide a vehicle for organizations to discuss issues in private without repercussion. There are several obstacles to overcome here in terms of privacy, security and liability. A key part of our value proposition is to provide that sanctuary.
  • A key talking point was the requirement for sufficient authority within organizations to facilitate change. I.e. Software Publishers are unlikely to change their practices because of Software Asset Managers – but they are much more likely to if CIO’s talk to Software Publishers together with independent substantiated evidence.
  • A knowledgebase was discussed as a useful mechanism for the Campaign to share collective intelligence and experiences. Again, issues around privacy, security and liability need to be discussed.
  • It was generally agreed that whilst a key requirement is for end user customers to collaborate on their own – it was also recognized that all industry stakeholders have a role to play (Software buyers, software managers, resellers, consultants, publishers, auditors, SAM tool manufacturers, Service providers and so on).
  • The Campaign can provide a collective voice for Software Buyers to raise concerns over license programs and auditing without jeopardizing their broader relationship with suppliers – an opportunity to provide evidence based, balanced feedback to suppliers to improve working relationships.

Our Value Proposition in Summary

  • To provide a secure, independent forum for software buyers to discuss issues with software licensing, software audits and vendor management (in person and online).
  • To govern forums to ensure privacy and independence
  • To curate and generate useful content to help members with their daily work
  • To build evidence based arguments for positive change with proactive, constructive dialogue with software publishers.
  • To escalate and highlight bad practice for software publishers who don’t wish to engage in positive and constructive relationships.

Next Steps

  • To develop a 3-Year business plan
  • To continue to solicit industry feedback and build industry partnerships
  • To develop a membership offering (Which will initially include a calendar of workshops and knowledgebase).
  • To recruit a Board to govern our strategic direction and volunteers to help support the initiative.

Volunteers Required

The first piece of collaborative work will be the Software Audit Code of conduct – a high level outline of which is included in the presentation. If you would like to contribute towards this publication please get in touch (we welcome contributions from all stakeholders in the industry).

If you have any questions please contact me. Contact details.

My thanks to Rory Canavan, Glenn Thompson, Kylie Fowler and Martin Chalkley for helping pull all this together.

Thanks, Martin

EVENT LISTING: Campaign for Clear Licensing Roundtable

Confidential SAM Roundtable

In Summary:

  • Who: Campaign for Clear Licensing
  • What: Confidential SAM roundtable
  • When: Monday 23rd September, 2 – 4pm
  • Where: 20 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5NJ
  • How: Please register your interest using this link. Space is limited.
  • Cost: Free of charge
  • Who Should Attend: ITAM Practitioners, End user organizations only

Software Audit Code of Conduct 

We have received some great feedback following the publication of the Campaign for Clear Licensing manifesto in May.  Our next step is to develop independent industry guidelines for software licensing and vendor audits.

We begin with our first event by focussing on a software audit code of conduct.

Outline Agenda:

  • Introductions
  • Campaign for Clear Licensing Progress Report
  • Software audit code of conduct
  • Discussion and networking

Everyone in the software supply chain has a role to play in the development of the Campaign for Clear Licensing. However this first event is for end user organizations only.

Please register for the roundtable here.

The Campaign for Clear Licensing is an international campaign, we’re just kicking things off on home turf in the UK. If you would like to host a roundtable elsewhere please get in touch.

If you would like to attend events in the future and stay updated with the Campaign for Clear Licensing please sign up to our newsletter.

The Campaign Begins…

Hello and a warm welcome to the Campaign for Clear Licensing blog!

We have received great feedback and support for our manifesto so far but we would love to hear more…

Computer-WeeklyPlease provide your feedback

Hello and a warm welcome to the Campaign for Clear Licensing blog!

We have received great feedback and support for our manifesto so far but we would love to hear more.
Continue reading “The Campaign Begins…”