The British Government has had enough of Oracle. In any case, that’s what they said in a recent survey. The Cabinet Office – the executive arm of the Prime Minister – would indeed clearly ask to “get rid of Oracle.” In one question, the significant amounts paid to the publisher, and the number of licenses and duplicates that are common in the administration of the United Kingdom were cited as reasons to say goodbye. Perhaps they should have consulted with local IT support in Norwich?
More than anything, however, is the price, which seems to be a problem according to our colleagues. In 2013, the public sector would have paid 209 million pounds to Oracle. That is certainly a significant amount, but it may be warranted.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would thus have paid 1.3 million pounds to Oracle, representing a cost of £ 155 per user and just above 200 licenses by officials. The Cabinet Office’s target figure in terms of cost is currently £93 per user with a stated aim to go down to just 52 pounds per user.
Another problem – for which the administration is fully responsible – is that no inventory, and no inventory of software licenses exists anywhere. So no one knows who or where Oracle licenses are used. Nor how many there are or how they are used, precisely. According to the Register , the Cabinet request was clearly perceived internally as an order to turn away from Oracle. But the thing is not yet done. The contracts, the number of different versions and other tangles have set up a complex network that will be difficult to overcome. This intricacy of being interwoven into the Cabinet’s affairs is one advantage that Oracle plans to use to its fullest in order to remain in use and in place.
“Oracle has always been a company with that expensive bill, very oriented to the sale … they are not there to tell you how to spend less,” says a former company consultant specializing in Oracle contracts, Craig Guarente.
This project of the British Government was not commented on officially by Oracle but has already drawn the ire of a VP of Forrester. “Enacting this policy is a bad idea,” writes Duncan Jones. First, because Oracle products are good (often topping the charts of the analysis firm, he recalls) and the price is not the only variable to be considered. “Why impose a Ministry to buy cheaper if what they buy instead is not as good,” he says. “If Oracle is the right strategic choice, you need to buy it and use it.” Secondly, because the best option is not, according to him, to dispense with an editor or to create competition (especially with open source products) but to create a stable environment and a constructive and sustainable relationship encouraging Oracle to become a true partner.
“Too much competition discourages the best,” he summarizes in a blog post that is generally based around praising projects that are concerned with results and not costs. Unfortunately for him, this is not a philosophy that the Cabinet buys into as wholeheartedly as himself.