Oracle initiatives bridge troubled waters

Oracle has introduced a range of customer initiatives the company claims has bought an end to ongoing criticism over its pricing and licensing practices.

Jacqueline Woods, Oracle global pricing and licensing strategy VP, said central to the turnaround is the release of a 54-page software investment guide late last year designed to help avoid confusion over the way the vendor sells it database, application server, development tools and enterprise application software.

Woods said the guide means both the vendor and customer are "working off the same sheet of music", so there are no longer misinterpretations.

"I am amazed how much the guide has done for us and I think it has a lot to do with [the way] guide was put together to ensure it is readable. It's not a novel to read by the fireplace, but it is very user friendly, unlike most technie publications," Woods said.

Other initiatives to build bridges after a series of pricing complaints by Oracle user groups and analysts was the introduction of a global CIO pricing council which includes the end user community.

Woods said there is also constant flow of e-mails to its online pricing initiative that provides a direct link to the vendor to handle pricing questions at

During a visit to Australia last week, Woods also confirmed support will be extended to June 30, 2004, for users of its version 10.7 application suite.

This is an extension on the previous cut-off date of June 30 this year with Woods pointing out that by 2004 the suite will be almost 10 years old "which is like the 1970s in the software world".

The extended support will be provided at no additional charge and was made available after a request by the Oracle Applications User Group which has already succeeded in getting full support for 10.7 extended twice.

Woods said there has been an increase in the number of customers – about 75 per cent of the customer base -- upgrading to the current application suite 11i.

This is a huge increase compared to 12 months ago when only 11 per cent of its customer base had moved to 11i.

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