Oracle revamps software pricing yet again

Pricing for Oracle business applications, which has been a long-standing source of contention with its user base, has been revamped yet again.

The software vendor said it is attempting to simplify the pricing of its e-business suite 11i applications by introducing flat, per-user fees for power and casual users, but was unable to provide comprehensive details.

Speaking at Oracle's AppsWorld conference, CEO Larry Ellison said licence fees for the full suite will be $US4000 per power user and $400 per casual user.

Effective immediately, the full ramifications of the pricing change will be made clear locally by Oracle Australia which is planning a series of announcements this week. However, the spokesman was unwilling to disclose further details until that time.

Australia's Oracle Application User Group (OAUG) director Jeanney Dobney said "any attempt by Oracle to improve pricing is welcomed, because it has always been a source of contention for users."

"Oracle has justifiably sought to fix a pricing model which more accurately reflects how business actually works these days," Dobney said.

However, without the detail, Dobney said it is hard to assess the changes as benefits are likely to vary between users.

"Essentially it's hard to comment on this kind of announcement by Larry because the devil is often in the detail, for example what is a casual user?" she said.

"The impact on existing customers has sometimes meant serious cost increases which of course nobody welcomes.

"That Oracle appears to be listening to customers and continuing to seek the best fit for the pricing model is something we support."

A little over six months ago Oracle also revamped its database pricing after coming under heavy fire from users. The company eliminated Universal Power Unit (UPI) pricing to match models used by its rivals, IBM and Microsoft.

When announcing the software pricing restructure, Ellison admitted: "Our price list was very complicated. We had all these complex matrixes. I couldn't keep it in my head."

Looking into the future of the application suite, Ellison said he doesn't expect a version 12i to come anytime soon.

"The 11i framework is so robust that we think we can enhance and improve it without going to a next version of our software," he said, joking that there won't be a 12i until "the day after I retire."

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