Oracle demystifies software pricing?

As my search on September 2 failed to turn it up, I'll take it on faith that you can now find Oracle's new 40-page Software Investment Guide at www.oracle.com/corporate/pricing.

The guide comes after months of criticism (particularly from analysts) about confusion and the potential for extra charges being foisted upon current licensees. Changes in March, for instance, saw Oracle varying its licence compliance interpretations with regard to multiplexing. This could involve a Web server using a shared pool of connections to a backend Oracle database and thus masking the actual number of users that are physically connected. Arguments occurred over matters such as shifting from named user database licensing to a processor-based pricing model. At the time, Meta urged Oracle users told that they are not in compliance with its existing contract based on the company's new interpretation to refuse to pay any extra licensing fees. To be fair, also at the time, one customer was quoted saying that Oracle 9.x licensing changes had lowered his costs by 41 per cent.

Leaving such confusion aside, some users and analysts who have already had a peek at the new Software Investment Guide have welcomed it, even though it has no new information. Gartner research director Jane Disbrow reckons it helps, but adds that the pricing and licensing is more complex than Oracle realised. It's a high level overview and does not have the detail somebody could use to price out a product, Disbrow said.

Meanwhile, Jacqueline Woods, Oracle's vice president of global pricing and licensing strategy, said the guide provides a comprehensive set of information and guiding principles that customers can use to manage their software investment, answering "probably" 90 per cent of customers' questions.

In a press release issued August 28, Oracle said it aims to give "customers a simple, flexible and transparent view of its pricing and licensing". Well have they? And are you paying more or less, or don't you know?

David Beynon is editor in chief of Computerworld. E-mail him at David_Beynon@idg.com.au.

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