I loved the “May Day! May Day!” ad IBM took out in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times last Friday and earlier this week.
In the ad, here in PDF form, IBM offers to “rescue” Oracle users from voracious Oracle sales reps as Oracle nears the end of its fiscal year. The season “usually brings constant calls from your Oracle sales team,” IBM reminds us in the ad.
“Come next year, Oracles current levels of support of 8i vanish, and youre relegated to second-tier support,” the ad continues, “which means limited support at a higher cost. As we speak, theyve already eliminated patches for this installed database. Any way you look at it, youre stuck. This is fallout from eagerness to shift you to Oracles new 10g database.”
The ad continues on in a delightfully snotty way, suggesting that now is the time to re-evaluate IBM DB2 Universal Database and IBM DB2 support.
Its so snotty, its like something that only a huge, arrogant database behemoth would think up—say, a few years back, before such a company might have launched, say, a campaign to swallow a rival and therefore attempted to clean up its bratty image and gain the affection of stockholders and judges.
Sound familiar? Sound like Oracle? Bingo! IBM has learned from the masters how to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt.
In this particular FUD campaign, IBM is trying to get at Oracle customers who are “in the throes of renegotiating software, software support, or thinking of augmenting” their current database.
Its a nice try, but the bottom line is that its easier to go from an Oracle database to an Oracle database than it is to go to IBM, regardless of what good tools IBM has in place to help with the migration.
As noted to me recently by analysts including Colleen Graham at Gartner Dataquest and Mike Schiff, vice president of business intelligence and e-business at Current Analysis, its tough to change databases.
Customers look at issues of cost and support before they buy, not at a point when support gets taken away for an aging database thats already been superceded by two major releases.
True, lots of customers still run successful Oracle8i implementations, but the fact that Oracle will desupport 8i next year hardly comes as a surprise. Weve seen Oracle9i, Oracle9i Release 2 and Oracle 10g in past years. As Schiff pointed out to me, “You cant expect a company to support something forever.”
Not surprisingly, IBM is relying on internal and/or commissioned studies to back up its assertions that Oracles support is poorer than its own, according to an IBM spokeswoman.
As for independent input, Gartners Graham noted that shes not hearing customers complain about spectacularly poor customer support from Oracle. Shes not hearing that the support is stellar, either, but her clients arent bellyaching excessively, she said.
As far as IBMs assertions that Oracle is more expensive, that assertion is true when youre looking just at the list price. But when you bundle in Oracles tools and options and take into consideration costs such as the training and rebuilding of staff skills that would be required by a database migration, the price picture gets decidedly murky.
Where Oracle gets really interesting with regards to price is, of course, with what Graham calls Oracles “Linux story.” Thats the one where enterprises run Oracle databases on a cluster of Linux boxes and experience huge hardware savings.
Of course, if you do run a cluster, you need Oracle9i RAC (Real Application Clusters), an option that comes at about a 50 percent premium. “So, its kind of like, yeah, youll save money on the hardware, but youll spend extra on the software,” Graham said.
The long and short of it is that you have to be leery about both IBMs and Oracles claims about their respective rivals support, price and everything else under the sun. That goes without saying.
What really needs to be pointed out is that May 28 is the last day you can lean on Oracles very hungry sales reps to get major discounts as they wrap up their fiscal year.
If you havent already, for Gods sake, drop everything and twist some Oracle arm on the last day before the holiday. Dont miss the boat—Grahams clients are reporting discounts of as much as 80 percent.
Thats right, 80 percent. As Graham so eloquently put it, “Up to 80 percent discounts. Thats, like, whoa!”
Or, as we might rewrite IBMs ad to read, “May Day! May Day! Rescuing Oracle users—from paying high prices!”
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eWEEK.com Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997.
Editors Note: This story was updated to correct the date for Oracles fiscal end of year, which is May 28.