Independent Oracle survey says: Loyalty might be waning

A recent independent Oracle survey of IT professionals, 94% of them Oracle customers, found not only some disenchantment with Oracle, but also a strong possibility of disengagement.

Oracle customers' opinion of their technology provider, never high to begin with, has only gotten worse in recent months, according to a recent survey.

The Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. surveyed 450 enterprise IT users, 94% of whom are Oracle customers. When asked whether any of Oracle’s recent actions have changed their opinion of the company, 65% said it had changed for the worse. What’s more is that some of those who answered “not sure” or “not a negative change” used the comment box of the question to write that their opinion of Oracle hadn’t changed because it was already negative.

But really, is it news that an IT shop has an adversarial relationship with their vendor?

“It’s not surprising that customers don’t like vendors,” said Dan Olds, founder of Gabriel Consulting. “But it’s a bit different when this many customers say their opinion have changed for the negative. That’s beyond what we’ve seen in surveying before.”

There wasn’t a follow-up question in the Oracle survey for why people’s opinions have changed, but open-ended comment boxes provided Olds with some ideas. Oracle’s decision to drop development on Intel Itanium processors had something to do with it. But there were broader reasons as well, such as licensing and support.

“Some of them feel that the company has been throwing their weight around a little too much maybe,” Olds said.

So this is all well and good, but does it matter? Oracle is the biggest enterprise database software provider,  a huge player in the applications space, and is now carving out its niche in server hardware. Maybe people aren’t happy with Oracle because they’re not happy with any vendor, but will it actually translate to people migrating off Oracle products?

Gabriel Consulting asked Oracle survey takers about that, breaking it down according to product. As it turns out, J.D. Edwards and PeopleSoft users are the happiest, while Oracle operating system users – Solaris and Oracle Linux – have the least loyalty.

Almost half of J.D. Edwards and PeopleSoft customers said they were happy and not looking at alternatives. For Siebel, 39% were happy and not looking.

For Solaris and Linux customers, only about 30% said they were happy and not looking. More than half said they were either evaluating alternatives or were definitely migrating. The remainder answered that they weren’t “totally comfortable.”

You might expect that Oracle Database customers would be the most satisfied, as it is still considered Oracle’s flagship product. But that isn’t the case. Only 39% said they were happy and not looking elsewhere for a database product. Another 39% said they were evaluating alternatives or definitely migrating.

“Oracle may be underestimating customers’ will to change if they think it’s in their best interest to do so,” Olds said.

He added that Oracle’s strategy – which involves trying to sell customers its integrated stack of hardware, middleware, databases and applications – can work. But according to him, there need to be more carrots involved in the carrot-and-stick approach.

“One carrot would be coming out with pre-integrated appliances that blow away the competition in terms of value and cost per performance,” he said. Oracle Exadata is one of those integrated appliances, but Olds said its cost and scale are still out of reach for many customers.

“Right now it’s few carrots and mostly stick.”

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