I, on behalf of UKOUG have read the Open Letter to Oracle from The Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) and actually applaud the 7 steps as best practice, although do not necessarily see them as direct indictments against Oracle.
When CCL published their survey quoted in the open letter, UKOUG responded through the press pointing out that Martin Thompson of CCL had attended, and in fact addressed the audience at our Licensing event last year, and based on that and our wider experience the picture was not as black as he painted. The open letter does pick up on lots of more positive things from Oracle and I feel is better balanced.
UKOUG know that licensing is an important consideration to our members and something we are committed to constantly monitoring, so lets look at those 7 points more closely:
1. Strategic Focus – Customer satisfaction, relationship strength and strategic value should replace audit revenue as a key performance indicator.
Users are very passionate when they feel wronged and immediately after an audit there can be a lot of shouting, and we hear of audits that happen in the last quarter and are then seen as revenue generating. The discussions need to be outside actual audits, with less emotion.
Oracle License Management Services (LMS) are trying to engage more with customers. Mark Hurd recently talked about employing 10x more staff whose only role was to improve relationships with customers, this is something user groups have asked for repeatedly; so let's give them the chance to demonstrate the payback to customers.
2. Audit Clarity – Oracle needs to be crystal clear with audit activity and adopt the Campaign for Clear Licensing code of conduct
I smiled at this, the CCL want Oracle, and all software vendors to sign up to their Campaign for Clear Licensing code of conduct, of course they do, its not a bad thing but it isn’t a indictment of Oracle specifically either.
3. One voice please – Organisations want clarity over Oracle license management from one voice. They don’t want to be passed around between departments who don’t communicate with each other.
Yes as I said above, it is a very common request from our members to have a single account manager at Oracle, but not just for licensing, and let's see if Mark Hurd’s investment addresses this.
4. Knowledgebase – Oracle needs to invest in a well-organized knowledgebase to educate its customers
LMS are reaching out to customers to help educate them and most of what they are saying is available online, but this is a longterm exercise and UKOUG will continue to work at speeding this up for our members.
5. Re-engineer risk – As more organisations mature in their governance processes, more will shy away from Oracle as an unnecessary burden to manage. Oracle needs to engineer its products and license programs to reduce unnecessary risk. The focus of control needs to be placed in the hands of the business not developers.
I agree licence asset management is a business not a developer role, but a mature customer is less likely to leave Oracle, they will determine their vendor on the overall value to their business.
6. Software Asset Management Evangelism – Oracle needs to help educate its customers to assign appropriate resource for managing software and proactively assist with licensing training and management practices around Oracle software.
This is where UKOUG can continue our work with Oracle to ensure that their customers understand more about the audit process. Oracle have the right to audit a customer to ensure they are licensed correctly but the metrics are often returned wrong because of bad housekeeping by a customer, e.g. Not ending certain records correctly so count is higher than reality or the customer does not understand the actual metric, such as records they feel shouldn’t be counted but are legitimate. Education is needed to ensure asset management and audits are understood and a good representation of what is being used / paid for by customers.
We can encourage this education not just from Oracle but also by our members being open and sharing their experiences. In the past year we have had presentations from members and another blogged through their audit process; these stories help to dilute the myths.
7. Communicate – Oracle is not being invited to participate in key business conversations because of mistrust. Oracle needs to step up conversations and provide clarity to regain trust.
There is cautiousness rather than exclusion but again this is about account management and not specifically licensing. UKOUG facilitate sessions with our members and Oracle on all sorts of topics, which help in this area.
Licensing has risen over the last few years as a concern throughout the industry, and the existence of CCL is a direct result of that. In 2012 our members had questions, and by 2013 they asked at a roundtable discussion at our main conference for a specific initiative. This in turn led to the dedicated event last year, which we plan to follow up with a C level event this year.
We also know that customers who are user group members are happier customers, because they learn how to get more from their investment by sharing experiences with others. At UKOUG we are committed to this education and will continue to work really closely with LMS.
I have also read other commentaries today on the Open letter, CloudTech talk about Oracle being first in the firing line of OCL, and the other big boys needing to brace themselves, but they also talk about Oracle's positives mentioned in the letter.
The move to Cloud is great opportunity to ensure the clarity CCL promote and UKOUG have recently launched an independent forum, but with the full support of Oracle, for members adopting Cloud, to ensure their whole experience is understood. This includes forging links with Oracle Cloud Services.
Could Oracle do better? Yes, but they have made a great start. The need for clarity is not unique to Oracle, it is an industry concern but one Oracle has recognised. Oracle, as CCL tell us, were the first software vendor to meet with CCL, locally they introduced CCL to UKOUG; they did not hide.
UKOUG will continue to facilitate dialogue between Oracle and our members and continue to share our learnings with the wider Oracle User group Community until it is no longer a concern.