Oracle support not up to par, too costly, experts say

Experts at a recent user group meeting told the audience that Oracle forgets too often about longtime customers, doesn’t provide the level of support it should and often has too high a cost.

CHICAGO - Oracle experts said at a recent user group conference that the company’s pricing and support policies are pushing customers away from the platform. That said, no one expects Oracle to go away anytime soon.

“I really think Oracle is going to be around for a long time,” said Janis Griffin, senior Oracle database administrator (DBA) at Confio Software, at the Midwest Oracle Users Group conference held here on Friday. “But the high price tag I don’t like, or the support. It seems that the larger they get, the more difficult they can be to deal with.”

Griffin added later that she has seen several customers move away from Oracle this year to Microsoft SQL Server because of the price and support. She has also seen some shops move from Oracle Database Enterprise Edition down to Standard Edition to save money as well.

Tony Jedlinski, president of Oracle consultancy Konoso LLC, echoed those sentiments, saying that sometimes he feels as though Oracle spurns longtime customers in favor of new accounts.

Complaints about Oracle support aren’t new. A survey last year of 109 Oracle application customers, taken by Irvine, Calif.-based Computer Economics Inc., an IT research and advisory firm, found that 42% were unhappy with the quality of Oracle Support, while 58% were dissatisfied with the cost.

Similarly, Concord, Mass.-based Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC) polled 468 businesses and found that Oracle Support in general ranked behind the support quality of competitors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft.

“You have to remember your current customers and who got you to the party,” Jedlinski said. “I’ve seen 10-year customers who haven’t been able to get anyone at Oracle to talk to them, and those kinds of things kind of rub me the wrong way. Oracle has to make sure they have something for those customers to keep them there.”

However, Jedlinski added that he thinks Oracle “has a great future because they’ve positioned themselves well in the market.”

The comments from Griffin and Jedlinski came during an expert question-and-answer panel at the one-day conference. Experts also addressed questions such as Oracle’s place in the server virtualization market and the eternal problem of rapidly growing data.

One audience member said he is running both Oracle VM and VMware virtualization platforms and asked the experts what they thought of Oracle as a virtualization player.

“The way I see it is that VMware is the Cadillac of the virtualization environment, just as Oracle is the Cadillac to the database market,” Griffin said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t competitors, but right now VMware is the leader.”

Another audience member expressed concern that Oracle and the industry seem to want to automate as many DBA tasks as possible and worried what that might mean in the job market. But experts said that a DBA with a rock-solid foundation of database knowledge will always have a leg up.

“The best thing to do is to take your knowledge and experience and find the dragons to slay,” said Chip Dawes, senior systems architect at IT consultancy Rolta Tusc. “You have to create value for your company. The knowledge that you have as a DBA and how a database works is very valuable.”

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