Oracle has been criticised for a database update and its effect on partners, which some channel figures have claimed is an example of it abusing its market position.
In September Oracle announced an update to its database products which saw the introduction of its new Standard Edition 2 (SE2).
"Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 (SE2) streamlines the existing Standard Edition (SE) and Standard Edition One (SE1) offerings into a single offering going forward that continues to provide an affordable enterprise-class database for SMB customers," a blog post said.
"Premier support" will be offered for SE and SE1 until 31 August, after which only "sustaining support" will be provided. According to Oracle rival TmaxSoft, the changes mean independent software providers (ISVs) are being "forced" to update their products from these previous versions, with damaging effects.
"SE1 users will reportedly be expected to pay nearly three times the current cost per socket for Oracle usage. In addition, the only alternative to SE2 on Oracle's services is the company's Enterprise Edition software, again a more costly product," a TmaxSoft statement said.
But it is not just Oracle competitors who are voicing criticisms of the changes. Anne Stokes, chief executive of independent consultancy Streamwire, said the updates are potentially harmful for customers and partners.
"I am concerned about the practice and if you look at business in its wider sense, there is a real push-back from the consumer about smoke and mirrors around pricing and cost," she said. "You only have to look at the petrol and fuel industry around what's happening with wholesale prices. [This is the] same principle and people don't believe what really makes up the cost of what they are spending. There is a natural cynicism that creeps in, and what's really disappointing is the pull on the consumer – and it's not easy for people to navigate through."
Stokes also said the way Oracle operates creates difficulties for its ISVs and partners, and "even the big organisations are finding it a little challenging to find out what's going on, never mind the smaller ones".
Streamwire claims to be vendor agnostic and helps customers migrate to a range of providers such as Oracle and also new players such as TmaxSoft. Stokes said that Oracle has previously dominated the market, but the industry is changing.
"It's a bit like new entrants to the car industry," she said. "Everyone was used to Ford and then new players came along like Kia and others. It's the same with the business applications [market]."
Martin Thompson, founder of the Campaign for Clear Licensing, said the changes are likely to be felt by ISVs.
"Many ISVs are going to have Oracle embedded in application offerings to customers so any repercussion on this upgrade is going to be passed onto them via complications and questions of price," he said.
He added that while TmaxSoft has its own agenda in its comments on the matter, the move is "typical of Oracle to push an upgrade and disregard the consequences".
"It boils down to market share, and if you have a dominant position, you are going to push the market where you want it to go and you are not too bothered about the intricacies of ISVs."
TmaxSoft, a direct competitor of Oracle, slated the vendor over the changes to its database updates, with its UK channel sales manager, Sanjeev Sanotra, claiming Oracle is "attacking" its partners.
"Historically ISVs have rightly or wrongly created their applications that run on the Oracle database and they will package that and sell it as a solution," he said. "And if the entry level for their applications was based on SE1, which allowed them to compete in the market, with SE1 not being available anymore and the price hike up to SE2, it means the ISVs have to either reduce their margins or stomach the difference themselves. And it makes it not really a competitive or viable solution compared with what they were used to pre-1 December.
"In terms of the actual software, it's not that dissimilar, but the other implications of it mean they have effectively attacked their partner base."
Oracle declined to comment on the matter.
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