Plans by Oracle to discontinue support for applications of its version 10.7 database may affect more than 50 per cent of Australian customers, who claim the move is too soon resulting in a significant cost burden for end users.
Gavin Stone-Tolcher, from Queensland University's infrastructure management group, said the withdrawal of support was "a very bad thing".
"Product lifecyles may be short but support should definitely extend beyond that," Stone-Tolcher said.
Customers worldwide, including Australia, have sent a signed petition to Oracle in a bid to reverse the decision and to continue support.
Oracle Applications Users Group's director for Asia-Pacific, Jeannie Dubney, said the petition had been signed by more than 50 global companies, including some of the largest organisations in Australia.
Users are arguing they have had Y2K and GST cost burdens to battle and are assessing a serious migration to 11I, which they are not "comfortable with due to quality issues".
Dubney said versions prior to 10.7 were not Y2K and GST-compliant, forcing companies to upgrade to 10.7 and those companies will not see ROI until applications stabilise.
She said the majority of petition signatories have stayed with the previous version because 11i is not stable.
"Users need continued support at this stage because many customers still run character-based applications, so migrating from quasi-mainframe applications up to a Java and HTML-enabled environment is a huge technological shift that requires not just upgrading, but re-implementation of the technology over a six to nine-month period," Dubney said.
"The migration will incur significant costs, not just in the upgrade, but in people time, as consultants are brought in to train users."
Oracle Australia's marketing director, Paul Rushton, admitted there were bugs in 11i, but said: "Because it is a major release of code with huge functionality improvements that embrace everything, there will be early bugs. But version 11i.5.4 is an elite version and a step forward in terms of reliability.
"It is in everyone's interest to move to the new version and Oracle does offer migration assistance; this is not a revenue-generating exercise," Rushton said.
The company said that almost all of its application customers are moving forward although a few are doggedly staying with 10.7.
The original discontinuation of support was set for June 2002, but Oracle extended support another six months and discussions are under way to extend that further.
Rushton pointed out that Oracle has supported 10.7 for nearly seven years.