Tall Tales from Redwood Shores

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-12-22 Print this article Print

Updated: Opinion: Oracle wants to lead the way in enterprise apps, but recent quarterly results do not bode well—and it's not going to get better if the company keeps making stuff up.

Oracle wants to be the market leader in enterprise applications. The companys most recent quarterly results show its not doing a very good job so far. More to the point, its not going to get there just by making stuff up.

Case in point: Oracle cooked some numbers in a Wall Street Journal ad that ran in November.
The ad spun the numbers to make it look like Oracle customers are gobbling up the easy-to-install, latest software revisions, while SAP customers are balking at its expensive, difficult upgrades.
"94 percent of customers run up-to-date Oracle Applications (Easy to upgrade at no additional cost)," the ad claimed. The ad contrasted that number to 4 percent of customers who run up-to-date SAP Applications, which, the ad claimed, are "so expensive and difficult to upgrade [that] 96 percent of SAP customers didnt do it." Gartner says its research was misrepresented in an Oracle ad. Click here to read more. Gartner cried foul this week, with its ombudsman chastising Oracle for not only comparing numbers for two entirely different time periods, but also for doing a little sleight of hand with the definition of what the term "business application" means. Apparently, when youre talking about Oracle applications, the term refers to all aggregated products shipped as Release 11i. Thats five distinct versions, shipped over a five-year period, mind you. When youre talking SAP, it just means one version, which became available to customers in March 2005. The ad was obviously meant to exploit SAP customers misery about their imminent forced upgrade. As eWEEKs Renee Ferguson wrote last month, there are still thousands of R/3 users out there. Under SAPs 5-1-2 licensing structure, introduced in July 2004, users on 4.6C and older are facing, by the end of 2006, either a shutout from SAPs Mainstream Maintenance or escalating support fees of 2 percent for an additional year of coverage and 4 percent for two years after that. And it hardly needs mentioning that thats a hell of a tight deadline when youre talking about ERP migration. Thats not a good situation. Its not surprising that those R/3 users are thinking that theyll keep an eye on what Oracle does with Project Fusion. The situation is a built-in boost for Oracle. Really, Oracle doesnt need to twist numbers around—the situation as it stands has positive potential for its Fusion plans. If Oracle just let things bubble along, it would probably wind up with some SAP converts when Project Fusion becomes tangible. But why let sleeping dogs lie? It would be unenterprising, to say the least. Next Page: Oracles spin gets exposed.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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