Oracle plans to start a series of seminars on its pricing and licensing practices later this year in an expanded effort to clear up confusion about the topic among its US users.
But local Oracle representatives have suggested that at this stage there is no need for such seminars in Australia.
Oracle already publishes many details on its licensing and pricing on its Web site and last September released a 40-page software investment guide to better inform customers. Now the vendor will offer interactive seminars so customers can get direct answers to their questions.
"The software investment guide is great overall broad information, but I think the key for seminars is that people can ask questions that apply directly to their particular situation," said Oracle's vice-president of global pricing and licensing strategy, Jacqueline Woods.
"It is another step in the right direction to provide clarity on our pricing and licensing models," she said.
Oracle planned to offer the free seminars online, at various conferences and during a road show that would stop at any worldwide location where enough Oracle users had expressed interest, Woods said.
Oracle was already conducting an online user survey to assess interest, she said.
Local representatives claim Oracle has not yet received any expressions of interest from Australian clients and has therefore no plans for such seminars. However, the vendor would “definitely” hold a seminar if it received enough interest, the spokesperson said.
Oracle's pricing and licensing faces continued criticism. However, users and analysts welcomed the seminars as another way to learn more about an area that most software vendors like to keep mysterious.
"I think customers are going to attend the seminars. If I was the CIO (Chief Information Officer) responsible for managing my bottom line I certainly would attend," a representative of the International Oracle Users Council (IOUC), Karen Brownfield, said. "I hope Oracle will put the publicity out there that announces the seminars."
Pprincipal at Enterprise Application Consulting, analyst Joshua Greenbaum, said: "Oracle has done probably more than anyone in making its pricing policies as transparent as possible and they should get credit for that. This has been one of the great mysteries of the enterprise software space."
Oracle buyers were definitely still confused about the vendor's pricing and licensing scheme, Gartner Research Director, Jane Disbrow, said.
"Things go wrong especially when people have to change from an older licensing model to a current model. That's when they generally end up having to pay more money to Oracle," she said. "These seminars are a great thing and will really help their customers who really want to understand their licensing metrics."
Information guides and seminars are nice, but in the end real clarity would only come if Oracle comes up with a straightforward pricing and licensing scheme and sticks to that for a while, Disbrow said.
"Until they basically simplify their license model and stay with that simplified license model for several years they are going to run into this same trouble," she said.
Oracle recently launched a new pricing model for its E-Business Suite, just over a year after it introduced flat fee pricing for its enterprise applications suite.
Customers would have to keep complaining, because according to Oracle's Woods there was no such thing as a static pricing and licensing policy.
"I don't think we are in an environment where you can have a static pricing model. I don't think that is a paradigm that can exist," she said."As long as the computer industry keeps changing, to have a pricing model that never changes is not a realistic expectation. I think customers want more flexibility."