Oracle pricing guide seen as right step

Users and analysts are welcoming Oracle Corp.’s Software Investment Guide, officially announced in late August, even though the 40-page document has no new information.

The guide answers “probably 90 per cent of customers’ questions” on pricing and licensing, according to Jacqueline Woods, Oracle’s vice-president of global pricing and licensing strategy. “This is what customers have been asking for, a complete and comprehensive set of information and guiding principles that they can use to manage their software investment.”

Oracle’s pricing and licensing has been criticized this year by both users and analysts. Woods said the guide was not a direct response to that, but did say customer requests moved Oracle to create the guide.

“Customers, some of them, may have felt that we were not as clear as we should have been and we felt that it was important to provide that clarity,” she said. “There was a sentiment that people could not find the information, or did not know where it was or thought it was hard to get to. Now it is all in one place and organized in a fashion that is easy to go through.”

Warren Shiau, a Toronto-based analyst for IDC Canada said the introduction of the guide is a welcome change for Oracle, which has had some pricing issues in the past.

“It seems as if it was initiated by a desire on Oracle’s part to create greater transparency into their pricing,” he said.

While he doesn’t foresee Oracle’s competitors such as IBM or SAP adopting similar strategies for pricing, Shiau considers the guide to be a step in the right direction for maintaining good customer relationships.

“Anything that customers see as a willingness to improve relations will be of benefit,” he said.

Mark Adams, membership chairperson for Vancouver’s Oracle User Group reflected Shiau’s opinion when asked about how it will impact the company’s relationships with its customers.

“Couldn’t hurt,” he said.

Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) president Tom Wyatt and Gartner Inc. research director Jane Disbrow reviewed draft versions of the guide. They both welcome it, but found nothing new in the document and see it as a collection of information that Oracle already published, but in various documents.

“I felt that it was a document that brought a lot of information from different sources into one particular area. This one document basically scanned 20 or 30 documents Oracle has. It provides a great resource for users to understand the terminology of software pricing and how that applies to an organization’s structure,” said Wyatt, whose main job is director of Oracle systems at SITEL Corp. in Baltimore, Md.

“I read through it and thought it was pretty much exactly what is already available on the Internet, just that it is now in one document that you can print out. There are no secrets in it, no surprises,” said Disbrow, based in Columbus, Ga.

Though the guide gives readers a better concept of Oracle’s pricing and licensing, a user “won’t be able to determine what the best way would be to license a certain environment by just reading the guide,” said Disbrow.

“Oracle is trying to make it more convenient to try and understand their pricing and licensing. I think their pricing and licensing is more complex than they realized,” she said. “The guide helps, but it is not the perfect solution. This is a high level overview and does not cover the level of detail so somebody could take it and price out a product.”

Wyatt disagreed, saying the Software Investment Guide could help a customer make up his own mind, without being coached by a salesperson.

“I appreciated the opportunity to not have to talk to a salesperson. As a user, I can be more prepared in dealing with my salesperson and potentially purchasing licensing through the Internet,” he said.

Wyatt had only one pointer for Oracle; update the guide so it keeps its value. “The document should not become stale. If it is going to be an end-user tool, it is important that it is continuously updated,” he said.

Oracle’s Woods happily complied, saying the document is “evergreen” and will be updated for each new pricing metric and product.

The Oracle Software Investment Guide is now available for download at

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