Oracle users dismiss Microsoft licensing claims

The chairman of the Oracle User Group has responded to criticism from Microsoft that Oracle's licensing and pricing are misleading
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

The head of the UK Oracle User Group has responded to claims made by Microsoft that the database specialist uses questionable licensing practices to help it gain market share and generate revenue from its customers.

Speaking to ZDNet.co.uk last week, Ronan Miles, chairman of the UK Oracle User Group (OUG), which claims to be an independent group of Oracle customers, said that, in his experience, most Oracle customers were happy with the company's pricing and licensing terms.

"The truth is that feedback from C-level executives (those with titles such as chief executive, chief financial officer, chief information officer, or the owner of a company) is that Oracle costs are just about right for the value they give," said Miles.

However, Miles conceded that further down the management chain, there was a feeling that Oracle's software was expensive. "Feedback from managers is that Oracle is too expensive [and] licences are too restrictive. C-level looks to value returned and managers look to work within a budget — so this is not really a surprise."

Miles added that Oracle wasn't alone in having problems with licensing. "I think Microsoft has ticked off some customers with its licensing also," he said.

Matt Dunstan, Microsoft's marketing manager for databases, initiated the war of words earlier this month, when he claimed that his company was going on an offensive, ahead of the launch of SQL Server 2008 early next year, to convince Oracle customers to migrate to his firm's database product.

The challenge "is to attack the traditional Oracle strongholds" said Dunstan, in an interview with ZDNet.co.uk.

Dunstan added that many Oracle customers have a "common gripe" over maintenance and licensing, with many left feeling "ticked off". A key issue is that a lot of customers believe "they have an Oracle site licence", Dunstan said. "There is no such thing as an Oracle site licence," he added.

The OUG's Miles conceded that "software licensing is generally an emotive subject... you never own anything [just the ability to use it]. That does not map to our normal world — I don't get a licence with restrictions on the car I bought. So then the whole issue of realising the value from something completely virtual is abstract and uncomfortable."

Miles said that Oracle's position in the market will make it difficult for Microsoft to make any impression. "According to an Oracle OpenWorld keynote, Oracle has 42 percent of the database market and that is bigger then the next two companies added together," said Miles.

While Miles accepted that SQL Server is used in many companies simply because they use Microsoft products for many different applications, he said that "there is much more 'big' Oracle [large or very large implementations of large applications] than 'big' SQL Server".

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