Amazed at sharp sales practices?

sharpOracle recently shot themselves in the foot over the release of their new In Memory feature (See Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU), losing a good news story in the mire of shoddy practice and coming across, probably unintentionally as the nasty vendor – again!

Whilst in-memory processing is a significant technical achievement for the industry and represents a sizeable investment on Oracle’s part, the feature should not be turned on by default. Oracle quite rightly deserves to make a lot of money from this innovation, but we fear that a large proportion of the additional income that it will generate (particularly in the short-term) will be through end users being stung at their next audit because they were not aware of the change, as opposed to them consciously deciding they value the feature and wish to pay for it.

Licensing complexity and poor communications from software publishers is getting in the way of adoption of new technology.

The customer is responsible for any changes to their environment.

Database Administrators have a million and one priorities in their day – keeping up-to-date with the latest licensing changes is rarely top of their list. And why should it be? Vendors need to do more to educate their users when significant changes such as this are introduced.

The cynical part of us would say this is sharp practice, to make a quick buck and an arrogance believing they don’t have to communicate with their customer from their ivory tower.

Oracle’s approach should be to prompt customers to opt in rather than making it the responsibility of the customer to pro-actively opt out without giving them the information required to make an informed decision. The customer should always be given the opportunity to enrol in new features on their terms once they are fully informed of the cost implications. Auto-enrolment is a trend in the industry that needs to stop.

This is exactly why the CCL exists, to ensure that software buyers are fully informed of the impact that changes to publisher licensing terms could mean to them. We do not condone the practice of auto-enrolment in such costly features.

Our challenge to the industry is clear; any change to a software license that will cost the user more money should always be opted in by the customer. We are already working with Oracle to help make licensing simpler and more transparent, but as this update suggests, change will take time.

CCL Guidance on Sharp Sales Practices

Three rules we’d always advise our members to follow in the event of dubious sales practices:

  • Escalate it. Step one is to let the software publisher know about it. At a minimum you should highlight any suspect sales practices to the country manager or country lead for the publisher. Let them know of the issues and how you would like your contracts or agreements clarified.
  • Adhere to SAM best practices. No matter how strong the relationship with your account manager – always ensure all agreements and concessions are confirmed in writing. Agree how audits and consumption will be measured and how agreements will change as your business evolves or changes.
  • Blow the whistle.  Let the Campaign for Clear Licensing know of any suspect sales activity so we can escalate the issue on your behalf and raise awareness with our members.

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