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Oracle’s licensing and auditing practices hit by major flak from new report

Oracle's handling of licensing has soured relationships with customers, or at least that's the finding of a new piece of research from the Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL).

The report, Key Risks in Managing Oracle Licensing, comprised of a survey of 100 plus Oracle customers, and a roundtable discussion with Oracle and further customers. It found that broadly speaking, Oracle's licensing and auditing practices have created customer relationships which are largely "hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust."

Of those surveyed – the ranks of which included job roles with labels such as software asset managers, software licensing specialists and IT procurement professionals – 92 per cent said that Oracle fails to "clearly communicate" licensing changes. Indeed, the research also noted that Oracle's own sales teams are sometimes found working with outdated licensing information.

When asked whether Oracle's audit requests were "clear and easy to manage/respond to", 88 per cent of companies disagreed or strongly disagreed. And only 22 per cent of respondents felt that Oracle's License Management Services were helpful during an audit or contract renewal.

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The CCL found that overall, major problems included the fact that messages to customers from Oracle were inconsistent, and that Oracle is prepared to concentrate on revenue targets rather than actual customer requirements.

Martin Thompson, who was the author of the report, and founder of the CCL, commented: "Based on our research and conversations over the last six months, we have found that customers' relationships with Oracle are hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust. So entrenched is this feeling of mistrust that some organisations were fearful of speaking to us in case of any audit repercussions."

He continued: "Whilst every organisation entering into contracts must be accountable for the agreements they purchase, a disproportionate amount of risk and management overhead appears to be placed on the customer by Oracle. Similarly, many customers have not invested, or are not capable of investing, sufficient resource to manage their Oracle estate, or are aware of the investment in management overhead that they will require prior to engaging with Oracle. On the whole, the customers we surveyed appear to have an arm's length, impoverished relationship with Oracle."

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Things will hopefully change as a result of this research, though, as Mark Flynn, CEO of the CCL noted: "We have been impressed with Oracle's willingness to work with the Campaign and welcome its openness in forming this meaningful dialogue with its users. Change will take time, but we hope that this exercise will result in a more positive experience for Oracle customers in the future."

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.