The Services Industry Association is asking the Department of Justice to block Oracle's attempts to change support policies. PC World reports:
The SIA accused Oracle of making the changes in order to capture an estimated US$2.4 billion of business done by independent service organizations (ISOs) with Sun customers. It accused Oracle of pushing customers toward buying all their maintenance services from Oracle and of imposing requalification fees on customers that go to a third party for maintenance and later want to go back to Oracle.
This could not come at a worse time for Oracle. In a court ruling made during the Oracle v SAP trial, (see PDF 986-6) it has been ordered that Oracle's internal 'At Risk Report' be admitted into evidence including statements made by customers as to why they might consider moving their maintenance to a third party provider.
In the ongoing case between Oracle and RiminiStreet, Seth Ravin, CEO RiminiStreet has told me on several occasions the company intends to argue that Oracle behaves in an anti-competitive manner. The action being taken by SIA can only add strength to that line of reasoning.
If that was not bad enough, Computer Economics will shortly reveal the results of a survey among 109 of Oracle's customers that talks to issues around Oracle maintenance. I have seen a review copy that includes customer comments. My take is that it is devastating. From the advance media alert:
The study, Go-Forward Strategies for Oracle Application Customers, shows that 42% are dissatisfied with the quality of Oracle support, while 58% are dissatisfied with the cost of the support. The respondents include users of its E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, JD Edwards, Siebel, and Hyperion applications.
“Many customers are frustrated with navigating Oracle’s support system and the length of time it takes for Oracle to respond to support issues, and dissatisfaction with the cost of that support is even more widespread,” said Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics.
In enterprise circles it is widely touted that Oracle customers live in fear of their provider but that few of them believe they can find a way of getting away from a company that is increasingly being seen as rapacious. Last evening, Narinder Singh, CMO Appirio Tweeted:
Oracle is the darth vader of tech - customers can't stand them but are afraid to stand up to the oppression
While this may be viewed by some as representing an outburst by a vendor competitor, there is truth in what Mr Singh says. I frequently hear Oracle customers looking for ways of loosening the ties they have to the company.
In the meantime Oracle is on a mission to ring fence its customers with a combination of hardware, software and services.
[Disclosure: Frank Scavo is a partner with Constellation Research Group, I am an advisory board member for that organization.]