New Patches, No Notice
But security is a newcomer to the list of Oracle customers concerns, Yuhanna said, and one that Oracle users arent necessarily used to dealing with. Oracle rolled out its first monthly patch set at the end of August. According to Craig Read, IT director at Toronto-based MTrilogix Inc. and president of the Toronto Oracle Users Group, many users were disgruntled at the lack of communication from Oracle on the patch set. Click here to read about the Oracle patch work that confronted DBAs recently. "Our user community was never informed," he said. "We canvassed members, and 90 percent said No, we werent informed. We had to inform them that Oracle was doing [a patch set] and we had to tell them why it was a good thing.""A lot of people want to do things specific to their business processes," he said. "Its not cheap to do that with Oracle. The markets really fragmenting, as well, and [businesses] want something that fits their business and maps onto it." But this all may add up to a puddle of unhappiness, rather than the ocean that Techtel believes is threatening to drown Oracle sales. "Over 50 percent of people in the IOUG run other databases in addition to Oracle," Niemiec said. "In over 30 percent [of IOUG members surveyed about one and a half years ago] where Oracle isnt the primary database, over 95 percent said Oracle had superior technology. Oracles literally at the top of their game from a technology perspective." Oracle is teaching its sales forces to play nice. Click here to read more. Users agree that, no matter how unhappy they may be at the core, Oracles technology is solid. "I see no reason or desire to move to [IBMs] DB2," Wessler said. "Theres simply too much invested in Oracle. A lot of projects are written for Oracle; your developers are trained in Oracle; your infrastructure and administrators are geared for Oracle." Oracle users growing unhappiness wont force large migrations from Oracle, users said, but it is already forcing small shifts onto, for example, open-source databases like that of MySQL AB. "What I see happening is small projects, those that exist in maybe an Access database that needs expanding, instead of moving to Oracle, you might move to MySQL or another freeware database like that," Wessler said. Forresters Yuhanna concurred. "Thats a trend going on with smaller databases," he said. "The fact is that just like Sybase [Inc.] announcing their free database on Linux for the SMB [small and midsize business] market, [the market for] open-source databases is heating up, with the penetration of open source in the entry level, which is the SMB market. Its obviously impacting all database vendors." But what matters is that loss of trust hurts companies in the long run, Techtels Kelly said. "What weve seen in the past, the kinds of things that make opinion go down are companies that lose touch with listening to the market," he said. "They become whats characterized as arrogant. Theyre right, were wrong. After a while, you have a lot of customers who dont agree with what youre doing and how youre treating them." And in Oracles case, this loss wont be papered over by, for example, the potential acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc., Kelly said. "If people dont like Oracle, what happens to the problem of not wanting to buy from Oracle [after the company has purchased PeopleSoft]?" he said. "Its a deep problem that even acquisitions wont overcome." Oracle declined to comment for this article. Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at http://database.eweek.com for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.
Where Read sees Oracle as losing ground to IBM in terms of customer loyalty is in the fact that its positioning itself as a horizontal platform, as opposed to IBMs dogged pursuit of vertical business processes.