Will Oracle's perception issues hurt SAP lawsuit?

Will Oracle's perception issues hurt SAP lawsuit?

Summary: Oracle files a lawsuit against SAP alleges massive corporate fraud and folks just don't seem to believe it. In fact, most observers are wondering what Oracle is really up to.

TOPICS: Oracle

Oracle files a lawsuit against SAP alleges massive corporate fraud and folks just don't seem to believe it. In fact, most observers are wondering what Oracle is really up to.

The reaction to the lawsuit has been interesting to say the least. Among the questions raised in informal discussions about the Oracle complaint:

  • Did Oracle entrap SAP?
  • Are there server logs from ISPs verifying the SAP alleged access?
  • Did Oracle frame SAP?
  • Why are expired accounts allowed to log in to an Oracle server unless Larry Ellison & Co. was looking to trap SAP?

If you substituted another company for Oracle I'd reckon you wouldn't get as many folks running to SAP's side. Why? Oracle has a perception problem due to Ellison's banter, customer complaints from years ago and corporate image. Perhaps folks remember the "dumpster diving" episode between Microsoft and Oracle. In any case, it's clear SAP is getting the benefit of the doubt and a decent chunk of public support.

Some notable reaction:

Joshua Grennbaum surmises that Oracle's lawsuit is really about TomorrowNow's encroachment on Larry Ellison's maintenance fee juggernaut.

"If, as the suit alleges, there was some downloading from SAP or TomorrowNow computers, it was a rogue operation that in no way could have been as sanctioned by management. To assume anything else would be more than foolish — it would be just plain wrong. The bottom line is that TomorrowNow doesn't need to steal anything from Oracle to take over its customers' maintenance contracts: the customer are legally entitled to all the software and documentation up to the moment their contract with Oracle is over."

What that passage really comes down to is trust. Greenbaum trusts SAP, but not Oracle. He also assumes that there's no way SAP could have sanctioned such a move and dismisses TomorrowNow--if Oracle's allegations are true--as a rouge unit. I'm not sure how Greenbaum comes to that conclusion unless he's really tight with SAP's top management.

But Greenbaum's view seems to be the prevailing one when it comes to Oracle. Simply put, Oracle's complaint is perceived as fishy because SAP just wouldn't do such a thing.

One thing is certain, there is no love for Oracle among ZDNet's Talkbackers. Here's a sampling:

Something' doesn't sound right.

You would think that a company the size of SAP would download this info from sites not traceable to them, yet how convenient that Oracle can produce "server logs" with IPs and identifiers easily traceable right back to SAP.

I'm figuring a company run by a person with an ego and ambitions as large as Larry Ellison's would stop at nothing to discredit the largest player in the game, so if SAP hasn't given Oracle any ammo, why not make it up for themselves?

Is Oracle learning at SCO's knee?

Ok, this is pathetic. First, let's talk about theft vs copyright infringement. Even if what Oracle says is true, and it turns out to be illegal (see below) Oracle has had nothing *stolen*.    At *worst* SAP *copied* stuff. Oracle still has the originals, so by definition SAP could not have stolen anything. Copied illegally *maybe*, but not stolen.    Second, have you actually read the accusations? My goodness, I thought I'd crack a rib from laughing so hard.

We're talking about a wide open website here that allowed anonymous downloads. There was no security broken at all. Oracle might as well have put buckets of fruits on their sidewalk with a "help yourself" sign.

My Oracle rep just called.

He was out on Larry Ellison's yacht getting a suntan and called to tell me that Oracle has never had any security holes and never will, and if a re-negotiate my support agreement at a higher rate, this will always be true.

I'm still trying to figure out what he meant by "tan lines on your butt" in the context of my support agreement.

A good reason to switch to SAP.

The seemingly lack of security in Oracle's system, and the fact that about everyone could download sensitive information would be a major reason to switch from Oracle to any supplier who takes security more serious. Oracle might get sued by their  clients who might be implicated.

The common thread with all of these comments: The assumption that Oracle is up to shenanigans. Whether that turns out to be the case remains to be seen.  

Topic: Oracle

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Some assumptions are being made to fill in some unkowns.

    The data on the support site is not wide open nor, at least when I worked with it, as simple to get on as registering with fake credentials. How the faked accounts got into play, we'll have to see.

    The obviousness of the trail doesn't sit right with me. Thoughts of a angry working or unschooled rogue might be plausible. Spoofing down the line maybe. It'll come out in the wash.
  • It could be Oracle!

    Oracle's reputation suggests that the break-in could have been Oracle! Note that someone from Oracle may have use unprotected SAP proxy-servers to download from Oracle. I don't believe that SAP guys who should know more than that.

    I also acknowledge it could be really a SAP, given my past experience. In the past, a guy from SAP IP address applied download using presumably customer's identification.

    Both-sides smell bad!

  • Unless Lawsuits are Settled "American Idol" Style

    The "perception" of Oracle is pretty darn irrelevant, isn't it?

    The case will make for a great mashup of IP law. I really hope something meaningful and intelligible comes of it. As things are, I don't think there's a US citizen alive who can make the tiniest bit of sense of the current application of IP ownsership/rights/law.

    The fact that the legal system has become incomprehensible is, IMO, sufficient indictment of the existing legislation.

    We need to repeal the DMCA. We need to permit Mickey into the public domain. We need a system for IP owners/publishers which DOESN'T result in accountants claiming "losses" they never would have had and lawsuits against "John Does."

    If this case is the first step in the implosion of the absurdities of our current state of affairs, I'm all for it.
  • smoke and fire

    Seriously - SAP gets a walk on this? If this is all true - and I am betting there is at least some truth too it - SAP purchased TommorrowNow to steal eoplesoft customers from Oracle. TN then downloads all the code, binaries and whitepapers they can from oracle to provide that support without paying oracle a dime. They also download all the Siebel whitepapaers and code they can to steal siebel customers when oracle buys siebel. Oracle notices increase in volume and blocks the ip address as it is coming from TN - but it continues from another IP address. Oracle makes sure it gets as much info as it can to make a case to not only stop this from happening but from stopping TN from using the material created and supported by Oracle to steal customers.

    And Oracle is the bad guy? WTF?
    • Poor old Larry

      Larry bought all of these companies to force their existing customers to Oracle software. Along comes TomorrowNow to support them for a fraction of the cost. This gives customers of Siebel, JD Edwards and Peoplesoft some close support that Oracle would discourage anyway with high prices and increasing unavailability as time went on. As for stealing customers, Larry is number one in this department. It is also called competition. Most CEOs do not take it spitefully like Larry.

      TN downloaded the support data on behalf of their customers that have a legit name and password. Remember, this is OK because the clients are paying TN and it will be held in confidence and it comes under a legitimate business relationship. Nothing wrong with this unless they mirrored their entire website by copying everything which Larry claims. Also they would have to hand the data over to the customer when done supporting the client which has to be verified. I believe the volume is due to all those customers that TN has and a variety of support. We need the ISP's logs to verified this because Larry doesn't have a good track record of laying the cards on the table.

      Yes, Larry is a bad guy. I guess you didn't read up on his hostile takeover of Peoplesoft. Customers were not happy about this move by Ellison. I guess payback is not allowed in your vocabulary or Larry's. What comes around goes around. I also do not believe Larry's accusations to be truthful anyway. Like I said we need independent verification anyway.
      • Hate larry != bad oracle

        uhh - larry didnt steal the customers he bought them. It seems TN could only support the customers by downloading oracle content without oracles consent. Oracle has said they would support peoplesoft customers ... forever ... TN only supports them to .. guess what .. migrate them to SAP. TN didnt have the right to download documentation on behalf of their(TN) customers. When did lary give the ok to the customer to have a third party download collateral for them? And do you really believe that this was done for customer A and not to also support customers B-Z. Held in confidence ?? These are the very guys Oracle wants the docs held in confidence from!!! Beause they are stealing customers from oracle, offering half price support when they dont need to (a) also support a development organization to improve the product for the next generation product or (b) apparently create any of their own documentation or collateral. Competition is fine - just dont use the other guys stuff as your own to compete...

        Dont know if larry is a bad guy - irrelevant here - dont think TN are good guys in this though. My guess is something happened oherwise its a huge gamble for oracle to take this public like it did. Dont know what ISP's you are looking for - Company A connects to company B's website - company B has the log. Which ISP info would corroborate it? The network service provider will probably just have traffic - dont know if they will have traffic source and endpoints unless they actually sniff for them.

        So just cuz you hate larry - doesnt mean TN is innocent here. Hostile takeover of peoplesoft .. irrelevant (fyi oracle got sued on that one and won - perhaps you just dont like it when oracle is doing the suing?) Karma ... irrelevant. TN seems to have done something naughty and got caught .. relevant.
        • They are inseperable.

          Yeah sure he did after the stock fell big time. They did not need it for they were working for their clients. I could hire someone to download data from MS on my behalf to setup my systems if I wanted to. I could hire Sun to download MS patches for me if I wanted to with my name and password. None of Larry's business who I hire to fix my databases. Sorry that info is available to 3rd parties that you contract to support you. Chances are they could not get the support from Oracle anyway. Stealing customers? Try competition and the free market. Besides they are going with SAP after all of this is done with anyway.

          Goes to credibility. Always used in court to determine motive. Nobody tops Larry for vindictiveness. Maybe he will buzz TN's building with his MIG. Guy is a complete jerk. The company that his network connects to since they all log events due to HS issues.

          Everyone hates Larry for good reasons the dumpster diver that he is. Sounds like you are his personal slave and got hit in the head by a sail winch aboard his latest toy. Try his scamming of California on databases he oversold to their government and he had to give back a lot of money. Or his proposal for ID tags for everyone in this country so he can sell a TIA type database to the government. This guy is one of the worst to have around. I also remember his losses also. You are such a worshiper and a Larry Lover.
          • so missing the point

            not sure why its necessary to make personal attacks on me ... perhaps your arguments dont have merit on their own?

            Might want to read the agreements you accept when you connect to support websites - most say the userid/password is confidential information and should be treated as such. Sharing with competitors to do with as they like? Probably against the agreement you clicked through. In fact if you bothered to read the complaint you can see it fairly well spelled out what type of access was allowed and what wasnt - and therefore what was "alledgedly" violated. Perhaps you are putting your emplyer at risk? Enjoy.

            Also - the motive you reference thats always used in court would be the motive of the defendant .. ie SAP TN. The motive of the attacked is to not be attacked. Not really a major discussion point - typically a given. And credibility would seldom be used to determine motive - that doesnt make sense.

            Your last paragraph is all random thoughts on why you hate larry peppered with personal attacks on me - fair enough ... i get it. Not really pertinent to whether SAP TN acted inappropriately. I guess your point is that Oracle = bad therefore lets stick it to em regardless of whether others acted ethically? Very ethical stance - good luck with that - what makes you superior to Larry again?

            Still nothing here that makes me understand why SAP is the good guy and Oracle the bad guy in this particular situation. I will admit though that "stealing customers" is a bad phrase. However it does seem to me that if the allegations are true that SAPTN was inapropriatey using Oracle collateral to lure business away from Oracle. "Stealing customers" is just shorthand.

            FYI - you might want to hold off on the personal attacks - it makes you look petty and vindictive. Combine this with the questionable ethical stance above and I am wondering if you are really the right guy to question Larry's moral fiber.

            "Hello pot, Kettle calling"
          • Not missing anything.

            Well you did the same thing first. Trying to be humorous after you are accusing me of being a hater. I could care less about Larry. Just will never do business with him.

            Yeah sure. If the competition is your support crew, too bad. Your user name and password is yours to give out to your support crew and if the contract says you cannot do this, it is an illegal contract. I don't think it was spelled out specifically. If not, it is allowed.

            BS. Lawyers also try to discredit the accuser and it goes for motive. Just like the lawyers for the plaintiff does the same. I see you are cherry picking Law & Order.

            Like I said, having a little fun with you after you accuse me of being a hater. All those things I mentioned did happen and that would discredit him somewhat as for his honesty. Have to get independent logs to see if they downloaded everything.

            Actually the firm is TN which is a subsideratory of SAP. Do try to keep up and they are not wrong if they downloaded materials on their clients behalf. I believe these logins were not stolen but given to TN so that customers like Honeywell can get support that Larry is squeezing. Stealing customers is competition. Stealing only happens when you leave your employment with the Rolodex.

            Still complaining about the personal attacks. Don't start them. So your Larry boy cannot be questioned? Give me a break.

            Hey, there you go again starting the personal attacks. But I guess yours is noble. "Hypocrite".
          • blinded by emotion

            Hacking, copying without permission (ie using expired customer ids or violating contracts), plagiarism and the like, are unethical and illegal. Period. The thin veil of competition does not hide these as crimes. Profiting from them is flagrant disregard for the work of others. Larry is rich and has nice toys; so what. Next!
          • Whatever you say.

            What goes on between the customer and the vendor is none of Larry's business. This is just Larry trying to have it all to himself. With your reasoning, I could not even ask my friend about a technical problem I would have with the database while the "key people" are out partying. I would hand out a name and password to my support crew to get it working. Goes on all the time. Folks hand it to me too when fixing a server. Just change it when they leave. I remind them to do the same. Don't care what toys this boy has. Whatever floats your boat.
    • re: smoke and fire

      Actually, whatever the popular opinion, SAP could be in real trouble here. If these charges are proved, I could see both criminal prosecutions and large punitive damages from the justice system. There really are laws against this sort of thing.