Eye on Oracle

Aug 5 2009   3:55PM GMT

Will Oracle users take the bailout?

Ed Scannell Ed Scannell Profile: Ed Scannell

While there hasn’t been a loud outcry from users about Oracle’s recent price hikes on selected database modules, by taking such action during such difficult times Redwood Shores did nothing to endear themselves either.

There hasn’t been a lot of hollering about the price hikes, of course, because many corporate accounts are locked into long term software licensing agreements they can do little about until the agreements expire. And the same for maintenance agreements which go hand in hand with the software agreements.

Still, it is perplexing why in the midst of The Great Recession Oracle would raise prices by thousands of dollars on some products when some of its best customers are counting pennies as well as the minutes until this crisis eases.

It is true that the elevated prices represent merely a starting point in negotiations between Oracle and it customers. There is nothing stopping Oracle from dropping those prices in behind closed doors talks, but why poke the rattlesnake with a stick?

But it is moments like this where some frustrated users leave open that door to exploring opportunities to lower cost options, even if it is only for one-off departmental solutions.

This week, a relatively small open source database make, Enterprise DB may have given some frustrated users reason to keep that door to alternatives open.

With some clever marketing the company announced its Oracle Migration Assessment Program — which the company with a wry smile calls the Oracle Bailout Program – is designed as an enticement to attract users away from Oracle’s database lineup and sky high licensing fees, and over to the decidedly less expensive Postgres Plus Advanced Server.

“Oracle’s price hikes might be good news for those on Wall Street, but they’re terrible news for IT departments trying to function in the worst economy since the Great Depression,” said Ed Boyajian, the president and CEO of EnterpriseDB. True enough.

Admittedly however the program sounds a bit gimmicky, EnterpriseDB dreamed it up in direct reaction to the July 1 price increases. And the company is not releasing names of those who are interested in migrating away from Oracle. But the company’s timing could be just about right. So it is safe to say there isn’t a land rush toward the program.

The “bailout” essentially helps enterprise customers migrate any and all applications running on top of Oracle databases to the Postgres product, which is an open source based database with a built in Oracle compatibility layer. EnterpriseDB officials said they are guaranteeing no disruptions to an IT shop’s operation during a migration, truly a brave statement.

Enterprise officials may be going too far in saying the price hikes to the performance and tuning packs and other database options are indicative of what they will do with their newly acquired open-source bauble, MySQL. Only the good Lord and Larry Ellison know what they will do with MySQL, and I am betting the former is even a bit in the dark.

But if EnterpriseDB and other open source comrades can come up with some creative approaches that make financial sense, they could apply pressure on Oracle to lower pricing on its proprietary products and even force them to make a more obvious commitment to open source.

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