Oracle Platinum Services caters to high-end customers

Oracle Platinum Services is a new support program from Oracle that provides specific SLAs for customers running expensive Oracle hardware such as Exadata, Exalogic and Sparc Supercluster.

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Oracle Platinum Services, announced Wednesday, is the company’s attempt to boost its support profile and lure customers into buying certain Oracle server hardware and storage. Experts and Oracle pros say the new service is impressive but are concerned about how it could affect support quality for companies not on Platinum.

Oracle Platinum Services promises higher support quality for Oracle customers running so-called Platinum products: Exadata, Exalogic and Sparc Supercluster with Exadata, ZFS or Pillar Axiom 600 storage. Features include a five-minute response time for the most urgent problems, called Severity 1 or Sev 1, around-the-clock monitoring by Oracle Support staff, and quarterly patch updates done by Oracle staff. The service-level agreements (SLAs) also include a 15-minute restoration of a system going down or escalation to development for Severity 1 issues.The service is included with Oracle Premier Support costs for customers running platinum products.

“I think it’s a big deal,” said Dan Olds, analyst for Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. in Beaverton, Ore. “One of the biggest hurdles in getting enterprises to sign up for this stuff is the service level. There aren’t a lot of companies out there that put these kinds of numbers on their [service-level agreements].”

Larry Abramson, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Advance Customer Support Services, said he hopes the announcement can “raise the bar and delight customers.”

“We hope they love it and would want to buy more products,” he said.

The announcement also includes a few add-ons. If a customer is running platinum and non-platinum products, they will still fall under the umbrella to get platinum support for everything. Customers can also request a dedicated support team for their organization under Oracle Platinum Services.

Andrew Kerber, a senior database administrator at a Midwest e-commerce company, said it makes sense for Oracle to focus on customers buying its most expensive products such as Exadata and Exalogic. But he thinks that promising a five-minute response time to those platinum customers can only mean that Oracle will hire more support technicians -- something Kerber finds unlikely -- or will reassign those they already have from less critical assignments to platinum.

“Oracle’s response to Sev 1 issues from those clients without platinum support is likely to be degraded, and in my experience that response is often marginal already,” he said.

Kerber’s opinion of Oracle Support isn’t a lone voice in the wilderness. Numerous surveys have found that IT customers are less satisfied with Oracle Support than with the support of other major IT vendors.

Another DBA and Oracle ACE, who declined to be named, said that there has been “a lot of dissatisfaction with Oracle Support in the Oracle community at large.” He said existing support customers might feel a little slighted by the SLAs attached to the new Oracle Platinum Services.

He is also skeptical of letting Oracle monitor companies’ systems just so that they can get quick, guaranteed support. And he wonders what Oracle is really after.

“Trying to increase their service profits long term, with the idea of becoming the remote database support company for IT organizations?” he said. “Perhaps with the hope of moving them into the Oracle cloud?”

Olds said the reasoning behind Oracle Platinum Services could be twofold. One, they’re feeling the heat from customers.

“But they’re also feeling the heat from their lower market share in hardware,” he said. “So they’re offering premium services with their systems. It makes the overall package more attractive.”

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